Prairie Mountain Hike

Avatar

Prairie Mountain Hike

Yearly Panoramic Mountain, Prairie and City Views

Distance
7.6km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
666m

Level
Moderate to hard

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by ↟Vienna (@viennhay)

A Short and Challenging Hike to Reset and Enjoy Nature

A 45-minute drive from downtown Calgary, the Prairie Mountain hike offers a family-friendly half-day hike featuring steep, gradual climbs and open views of prairie and mountain landscapes. Trek through this beautiful outdoor setting with the adrenaline of a good workout. Add summer birdwatching to your adventure or snowshoeing in the winter. After a rewarding climb, Kananaskis Country boasts sweeping valley views that connect the sights of the foothills with downtown Calgary. Providing easy path-finding, Prairie Mountain trail focuses on spectacular views, refreshing atmosphere, brilliant sunlight and wonderful memories.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by @curtmudgeon._

Where Is It?

Drive to Bragg Creek from Calgary. At Bragg Creek, travel past the 4 way stop on Highway 22. Drive south to a “T” intersection and turn right on Highway 66. After reaching Elbow Falls, the Beaver Lodge parking lot is on the left-hand side. If you plan on parking in the parking lot, space is limited. Cross the north side of the highway after reaching the parking lot. Next, cross Prairie Creek back east and take a left. The trailhead starts on the east side of Prairie Creek.

Trail Highlights

After passing the winter gate, the first route trailing off the road is the quickest to reach the summit, but also the steepest. In the winter, this main trailhead is the most reliable; if you’re tackling Prairie Mountain in winter, the snow adds extra resistance to the steep hike, and the wide paths are a welcome benefit. However, in the warmer months, a gentler incline to Prairie Mountain can be accessed by walking along the road until you see another trailhead. Cresting inclines as you hike through dense pine and spruce forests, the trail forks ahead to gain elevation. Meeting the base of the ridge, the pine forest thins out and opens to clear blue sky. Reaching the treeline offers your first glimpse of the reward for your efforts with a spectacular horizon of jagged peaks.

At the treeline, turn right, trekking over dashes of wildflowers growing in crevices of the weather-worn rock. Follow the ridge until you spot the summit marked by a Canadian flag and a cairn. The Prairie Mountain summit features an alpine meadow perched above the masses of trees flanking the mountains. Plentiful views of rolling hills and the protruding mountain ranges stretches to the limits of one’s line of sight. Opposing the warm breezes of summer, winter provides new views as the snow covered scenescape creates its own magic. To the north, Moose Mountain Fire Lookout is nestled amongst the green thicket and in the winter, the entrance to the Elbow Ice Caves shines against the sun. Views of Moose Mountain, Banded Peak, Mount Glasgow, Outlaw Peak and Mount Cornwall are visible across all directions from the summit. Reward yourself for the climb and rest along the rocks for lunch!

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Igo Tan (@igotan)

Return Trip

Descend the northwest side of the ridge. Take out your hiking poles as you navigate the loose rock, remaining aware of slick surfaces in any season. Stay close to the trail to avoid taking a different route. Following the trail back to the clearing, either return to Beaver Lodge or take an after-hike snack and cool off at Elbow Falls. A 2.5-4 hour hike depending on the season, Prairie Mountain trail provides spectacular forest, plain, slope and city views throughout the year, as you take a step away from the busy workweek to enjoy the peaceful embrace of nature.

Tips

  • Check the weather pattern, avalanche warnings, and trail reports for Elbow Falls and Prairie Creek area before you leave. 
  • Bears are active in the area. In the warmer months hike in larger groups and bring bear spray.
  • Plan your available daylight hours according to the season. Ensure you’ve provided your hiking group enough time to return to the parking lot before dark.
  • The ridge provides little protection against the wind, pack an outer shell layer.  
  • When hiking Prairie Mountain in the winter, ensure you’ve packed all of your hiking essentials and plan accordingly.
  • Hiking poles are recommended for the mud and ice during all seasons as well as microspikes in the winter.