Alberta Parks Office, 800 Railway Ave, Kananaskis, AB, T1W 1P1
This short but invigorating climb has a height gain of 230 metres to a hanging valley above Highwood Pass.
|Closed for the winter|
Profile Last Updated: May 07, 2009
The 4.5-km return journey can be done in just a couple short hours, and is perfect if you don’t have a lot of time, because it is not as far from Calgary as a lot of the bigger, more popular trails in Banff. Located in Kananaskis Country, this trail circuits around a high mountain bowl atop the Highwood Pass, one of the highest points in Canada that you can actually drive to. Keep in mind though, it can be a bit chillier up on the pass than lower down the mountain, so you may want to bring along a sweater.
An interpretive trail, Ptarmigan Cirque lets you learn a little as you go. In addition to finding out more about the area itself, you will have the opportunity to observe plenty of alpine flowers, a number fossils and of course the Ptarmigan themselves, a ground bird with great camouflage both summer and winter that makes them hard for hikers to spot.
The climb through a forest of fir and spruce leads to an alpine meadow and is back-dropped by the cliffs of Mount Arethusa. Although the first kilometer of the trail is a little steep, but then it levels off and you come to some of the best and easiest accessible views in K-Country. There are also two falls in the creeks running by the trail which loops its way back to the starting point in the first trees of the forest.