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Traffic between Canmore and Whiteman's Gap will be seriously compromised by major construction in Summer 2018.

Park Planner Thea Mitchell has recently provided important information about major construction on the big hill which connects Canmore with the Ha Ling trailhead and Goat Creek parking.  Advisory text follows.

The Spray Lakes Road (Highway 742) connects the Town of Canmore to the recreational opportunities in the Spray Valley.  Over the last 25 years, use on this road has substantially increased and the infrastructure supporting the road surface requires repairs.  Alberta Transportation will begin major road construction on the north end of the Spray Lakes Road in July of 2018.  Construction work involves repairing the gabion wall that helps support the road below Whiteman’s Pond.  The Spray Lakes Road will be open during construction, however, traffic will be reduced to single lane alternating traffic.  Expect substantial traffic delays.

The section of road under construction is located directly above the Grassi Lakes hiking and climbing area. To ensure safety of recreational users to Grassi Lakes, Alberta Parks will enact a partial area closure including Upper and Lower Grassi Lakes and all climbing routes.

Beginning July 3rd to September long weekend:

Upper and Lower Grassi Lakes and climbing area are closed.

Hiking trails from the Grassi Lakes Day Use Area trailhead to the northeast shoreline of Lower Grassi Lake are open.

Access routes to Ryders of Rohan and the front of Ha Ling Peak via the Whiteman’s Pond dam are open.

Updated information on the Grassi Lakes day use area partial closure is available at: (https://www.albertaparks.ca/advisories/).

Thea Mitchell | Park Planner

Kananaskis Region | Alberta Environment and Parks Suite 201, 800

Railway Avenue, Canmore, AB T1W 1P1

C: 403-679-8416 | W: albertaparks.ca<http://www.albertaparks.ca/

Just to add an option for travel along the Smith-Dorrien Trail, it is common practice to enter Kananaskis Country via Hwy 40 at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino and drop down to the gate at Kananaskis Lakes Road for the right turn and fairly short jog to the bottom of Smith-Dorrien Road (Hwy 742) for another right turn.  Even though the drive is a bit lengthy and time consuming, the scenery is breathtaking and always an amazing start to a hiking day with an earlier start.  There are many spectacular day hikes along Smith- Dorrien too numerous to mention but many are on this blog.  Enter Smith Dorrien in the Hiking With Barry search argument space and see what comes up.  Please purchase a hiking guide and a quality Gem Trek map of the area to improve your chances for experiencing another spectacular and well planned day.

Happy trails and stay safe.  Please wear proper footwear which is different than what is currently being marketed.  Injured ankles  are reluctant to heal.

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Edworthy Park offers excellent hiking opportunities featuring dramatic views and fascinating history.

Edworthy Park is located in central SW Calgary.  For this excellent inner-city hike access can be achieved by vehicle via Sarcee Trail, then east on Bow Trail, to well-signed turns for Edworthy Park and north on 45th Street noting the speed-reduced zone past Wildwood School.  A left turn onto Spruce Drive heads west past cell phone towers at Woodcliff United Church to the right turn onto narrow, twisting road descending slowly and carefully past hikers and cyclists to a sweeping left turn near the bottom for angled parking on the approach to a restricted-access, private dwelling adjacent to the expansive Edworthy Park picnic and playground area.

Access can also be achieved by parking on the north side of the Bow River near the bottom of Shaganappi Trail and walking south across the Harry Boothman Bridge (Edworthy Bridge) over the Bow River near Angel's Cappuccino and Ice Cream into and through Edworthy Park, past the railway tracks on the south side and through the picnic area/playground to the trail-head at the southwest corner.

From the angled parking area, a short walk to the end of the road reveals a cul-de-sac with well-signed, gated and restricted access road continuing to a private property adjacent to an informal, public, gravel trail heading uphill near a tiny stream.

The well-trodden trail gains modest elevation over a short, wooden platform bridge where a mirror pond subdues the progress of more aggressive drainage with pooling water beneath a large, mysterious and colorful drum laying on its side.  Two trail junctions offer uphill access to the dog walking park near the top of this Broadcast Hill slope following a robust and extended ascent while the lateral trail through forest proceeds west above an older and private dwelling below.  The main structure appears to be an old heritage dwelling with well-weathered, wooden roofing shingles whose presence will soon be hidden by new spring foliage on dense surrounding forest.  The private home oversees large groomed fields framed by the privacy of dense surrounding shrubbery.

A short trail branch to the right provides a viewpoint with a memorial bench overseeing the heritage dwelling below as well as long views across the swelling, blue-green Bow River to the colorful Alberta Children's Hospital and beyond to the Calgary Downtown skyline.

Continuing west, the hike navigates a large patch of, soon to be gone, winter ice and introduces a bit of off-trail adventure.  As this mildly undulating trail section descends gently beneath power lines towards the railroad tracks and Bow River level, a triangular intersection features

1.) an important historical feature,

2.) a trail returning east along the railway tracks and

3.) today's choice to swing left on old, gravel road heading west over ground showing evidence of crushed red brick from pioneer times.  

The old road heading west parallels railroad track for a short distance before single-track trail eases left and gains gentle elevation into forest.  Old fencing and the occasional trail-side oddity stands testament to past industrial activity.  Developing spring foliage permits surrounding views as undulating trail crosses runoff creeks in the valleys between high points providing sweeping city views across Shouldice Park to the Calgary Skyline in the far distance.  Occasional patches of open landscaped terrain on the left reveal large, isolated private dwellings perched above and surrounded by forest on these lower slopes of Broadcast Hill.

Following an excellent forest section featuring a stand of Douglas Fir, the trail opens to grassland beside an old post fence with remnants of historic telegraph cables still clinging to intact glass insulators from more comfortable, and less frantic, eras past.

Dirt trail descends gracefully to bypass a larger drainage for a short walk, on comfortable margin, to adjacent rail lines before a short return ascent to trail along fence line beneath telegraph line continues west above the railroad tracks.  An explosion of subtle lavender crocus poke through tall wheat-colored grassland.  Sweeping vistas across grassland and over the Bow River reveal recreational facilities and the popular dog park south from the river-adjacent picnic area.

Shouldice Aquatic Centre resides near the sharp bend in the Bow River which hosts the TransCanada Highway traffic bridge over the Bow River and the historic John Hextall Bridge beyond in Montgomery near the demarcation line between the communities of Montgomery and Bowness.

The continuing trail stretches straight towards the small community of Bowdale, encased by the sweeping exit from Sarcee Trail to the TransCanada Highway as the roar and rumble of a passing freight train interrupts the serenity and shakes surrounding ground.

On the far side of the river, secluded parkland compressed between Shouldice Athletic Park and the beautiful Bow River hosts the daily dog walkers entertaining their partners with sticks thrown into the river for immediate and enthusiastic retrieval.

Although continuing informal trail complex provides the opportunity to walk the short distance home, the car remaining at Edworthy Park invites a return on trail initially taken predominantly through field and forest above the railway line.  Familiar features present new perspectives as trail eases through lush evergreen forest occasionally dipping into gullies still servicing winter thaw.  Along the way, subtle side trails meander into short sections of moss-covered rock alcoves which undoubtedly entertain those seeking fantasy and solitude.

Back at the triangular intersection, the opportunity presents itself to become more familiar with the Brickburn historical presence.  A historical marker tells the story.  What began as a quarry and modest brick plant became the Calgary Presssed Brick and Sandstone Company which serviced burgeoning city development between 1905 and 1931Calgary's original City Hall used sandstone blocks from this quarry.  Many Calgary brick buildings constructed from the plant's product include the Mewata Armory.  An archival photo is available here from Glenbow Museum Archives.

At it's height of activity, the original facility was churning out 80,000 bricks per day and occupied nearly 100 people. The complex at this location hosted dormitories, a small school, a post office, and a small church.  Much of the brick was shipped by rail to other cities.  Some of these bricks are at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta.

Touring the flat terrain between stands of trees reveals little evidence of prior occupation beyond the occasional depression in the ground which may or not indicate previous industrial activity.  A mound of brick debris at the west end has largely grown over or has been consumed by nature and subsequent development over time.

Return to Edworthy Park is achieved via old and heavily traveled road between the Brickburn archival marker and the railway tracks.  Passing private land adjacent to the well treed, private dwelling is protected by high chain link fence, shrubbery and forest augmented by many 'No Trespassing' signs justifiably pleading for privacy from surrounding public land and traffic.

A loop around the end of the chain link fence adjacent to the railroad line enters the well-appointed playground and group picnic area for easy return to angle parking near the trail-head.  There is huge hiking potential within Calgary and surrounding communities for physical conditioning opportunity and gear acclimatization prior to tackling trail in the mountains and gaining elevation as the snow line recedes.

The nearby Douglas Fir Trail, a short distance east in Edworthy Park, which was heavily damaged by water runoff and closed for safety and repair, has now reopened and is another excellent inner-city hiking alternative featuring trees marginally older than I am.

Photographs for this Calgary inner-city hike were captured on informal trail between Edworthy Park and Bowdale Crescent, along the railway line and the Bow River on Tuesday, May 8, 2018 following a lengthy and challenging 2017/2018 winter season.

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A series of educational presentations, day hikes and a backpacking trip are available throughout 2018 summer for hikers interested in learning new skill sets and becoming more comfortable in the magnificent wilderness of Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Please discover an overview following of summer opportunities provided in 2018 by Norseman Outdoor Specialist.  For additional Information, and to register, contact Norseman Outdoor Specialist by phone, website or personally at:

4655  37th Street SW

in Calgary north off Glenmore Trail on 37th Street west of Mount Royal University

or 

Phone:  403-249-5451 or

Email:  info@NorsemanOutdoorSpecialist.com or

Consult the website at Norseman XC Ski, Hike and Climb

under Education - Lessons and Outings

The schedule for in-store educational sessions follows,

beginning Tuesday, May 22, 2018 

Following is the schedule and cost for professionally guided outdoor opportunities.  Substitutes may be required to manage unforeseen circumstances like spontaneous trail closures or unsafe weather.  Brochures are available at the store.

These opportunities will be of interest to new hikers or anyone eager to increase important back-country knowledge and skills.  Like any personal activity, the objective is to manage risk and increase awareness of the benefits provided by the wilderness.  Learn to safely enjoy the cumulative benefits of spending quality time in the outdoors.

There are enrollment maximums, so best to avoid procrastination.  Happy trails and stay safe.

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Bull Trail Park occupies west Oldman River Valley near High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

There are many entry points into Bull Trail Park along the west side of the Oldman River Valley.  One opportunity begins by hiking north from the dyke junction at the south end of Elizabeth Hall Wetlands past the popular par 3  Bridge Valley Golf Course.

The trail gains modest elevation on slightly rolling terrain which soon passes beneath the impressive High Level Bridge (Lethbridge Viaduct).  

Continuing on gently rolling single track trail follows the curl of the west bank of the Oldman River with giant construction cranes visible in the distance above the prominent University of Lethbridge.  Scenery and ambience are stunning.  Evidence of the Helen Schuler Nature Centre and Indian Battle Park are well camouflaged behind forest along the far-side, east bank of the Oldman River.

Hard pack trail beneath impressive banks reveal significant evidence of past coal mining activity.  Brief stretches of trail are black over crushed coal with the occasional remnants of ancient slack heaps nearby. 

The Galt Museum is clearly visible crowning the top of the Oldman River Valley east side.

This hike is through rich history and open ground soon transitions past a major drainage through lush and dense forest of mature trees.  The variance in terrain adds significantly to the quality of this hiking experience.

North Bull Trail ramps out through grassland to meet Coal Banks Trail crossing the river over multi-lane Whoop Up Drive Bridge.

South Bull Trail continues south on the other side of the tunnel passing beneath Whoop Up Drive Bridge to create a continuing hike through Bull Trail Park South before turning right to ascend bluffs and meeting University Drive.

On this overcast day, the return hike is via the same route used for access.  There are many options and side trails to extend and enhance the quality of the experience.

Light, intermittent drizzle accompanies the final couple of kilometers and actually enhances the experience as increased humidity enhances the intensity and presence of natural aroma from the surrounding, diverse variety of plant life.

The final short stretch past Elizabeth Hall Wetlands to parking is a fitting end to a spectacular day hiking experience.

This hiking tour through southeastern Alberta in the fall of 2017, which includes day hiking experiences in Brooks, Medicine Hat, Cypress Hills, Milk River and Lethbridge, is predominantly motivated by smokey conditions from massive forest fires in the mountains west of Calgary.  On this fascinating tour there were huge opportunities to experience unique cultures and historical diversity, hiking on well-developed trail systems, often within river valleys, badlands or near lakes.  

Photographs for this hike in Bull Trail Park along the Oldman River Valley near High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada are taken on September 21, 2017.

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Elizabeth Hall Wetlands occupy a section of historical terrain north from High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

The exit from Highway 3 West over the Oldman River Valley is not signed, (at this time), for Elizabeth Hall Wetlands, however, signage for the exit to the Bridge Valley Golf Course will lead to the exact location.  At the end of the road, Bridge Valley Golf Course is on the right and the gate to parking for Elizabeth Hall Wetlands (originally known as the Oxbow Lake Nature Area) is clearly signed on the left.  Can't miss it.

A clearly defined, short, gravel link leads from the parking area beneath mature trees to a reddish brown, crushed brick loop trail circling the picturesque pond in the center of the interpretive pathway around the outside edge of the 15 hectare (37 acre) parcel.  Soon, deteriorating wooden pilings along pond banks hint of past activity.  Interpretive signage along the path introduces a wide variety of plant, avian and small animal occupation.  Dogs and bikes are not allowed here for obvious reasons. 

On warm, sunny days, painted turtles basking in the sun are abundant.  The main trail loop is about 2 KM (1¼ miles) long with options to lengthen for special wilderness experiences spanning an hour or more.  This is a great place to sit, ponder and become absorbed by the special beauty of the minute detail.

Hiking north along cinder trail adjacent to the fenced-in, par 3 golf course, and towards the prominent High Level Bridge in the distance, passes a well constructed beaver dam whose occupants, on this day, are out and about within the company of a wide range of large and small birds.  The cool air encourages discovery beneath heavily overcast skies desperately doing their best to avoid raining down on this idyllic location.

The crunchy, red cinder trail continues to curl north past wetlands alive with life and sound accompanied by the rich, pungent aroma typical of wetlands.  Past the golf course, and in closing proximity to the High Level Bridge, the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands trail turns left across the flat top of a well constructed dyke controlling water flow from the adjacent Oldman River.  Trail also continues straight ahead over gray-white crushed rock trail into Bull Trail Park travelling south past forest and beneath the High Level Bridge.  This additional opportunity will be investigated following completion of the Elizabeth Hall Wetlands loop.

The far side of the dyke ends at the west bank of the Oldman River.  Following the left turn, several nearby trail opportunities provide access to trails descending into wetlands surrounding the pond.  The most prominent, signed entrance descends wooden stairs to excellent trail through forest to the Wildlife Viewing Blind.

The Wildlife Viewing Blind provides the opportunity to view and photograph surrounding terrain hosting abundant wildlife within relative anonymity.  Portals within the high wooden walls of the blind permit excellent photographic opportunities.

Dry path through forest departs from the blind and continues south through the lower section of the wetlands.  There are several opportunities to take trail branches up to the higher periphery trail level but the quiet forest walk provides an excellent alternative and more wilderness-like hiking opportunity until wooden stairs provide return to the Oldman River level.

Further south past the forest section hosting the viewing blinds, another opportunity near the north end of the pond provides steep path, or stairs a bit further along, to floating platform surrounded by marine growth.  The viewing platforms offer close range observation of avian and amphibian life near water level.  Exit from this special experience returns to the main tail which continues north to loop around the floating driftwood gathered at the end of the pond within imperceptible water flow.

Narrow, alternative path skirts the top of the bank as a superior experience alternative to less intimate formal path.  Eventually they combine near the return to parking.  Surrounding terrain fascinates at every observational level.  This is a special place which is likely best appreciated at the most quiet times.  On this day, I have this beautiful place virtually to myself.

This adventure will continue south along a repeat of the west side of the pond adjacent to the golf course.  The hike continues south past the dyke into Bull Trail Park North for the enjoyment of trail beyond and beneath High Level Bridge and above the Oldman River along the steep, formidable banks of the Oldman River Valley.

Photographs for Elizabeth Hall Wetlands are captured on the overcast day of Thursday, September 21, 2017 on the west side of the Oldman River in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

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Brewery Gardens provides an entry point to spectacular vistas near High Level Bridge in Lethbridge, Alberta.

This beautiful garden was originally a dumping site for coal ashes generated from nearby Sick's Lethbridge Brewery which operated between 1901 and 1990.  The garden was created in 1950 to stabilize the slope and horticulturally enhance immediate and surrounding terrain.

From this city access point curling beneath the High Level Bridge, the garden occupies land behind where the Brewery once stood.  In the past, a small bridge beyond parking accessed a Tourist Hut since removed.  Colorful gardens beneath majestic evergreen trees create impressive landscape stretching westward along the slope.  A rock garden waterfall features stone steps and the predominant welcoming sign beneath imported evergreens dominating views west and south.  From the viewpoint, visitors can absorb spectacular river valley vistas and hike into the matrix of trail opportunities within the river valley, view the University of Lethbridge, or the infamous and impressive High Level Bridge constructed in 1909.

On paved path past Brewery Gardens, the bridge cairn at trail side and the time capsule behind Brewery Gardens are also nearby.  This time capsule was placed during the City’s centennial celebrations in 1985.  The capsule was opened in 2010 and is scheduled to be reopened in 2035 and 2085.  It is highly unlikely I will have a shot at either of those but I hope you are able to take the opportunity to participate.  Brewery Gardens is an ideal place to enjoy a short (or longer) hike within the area of the Oldman River Valley and the Helen Schuler Nature Center.

Brewery Gardens photographs are captured in early morning light near the High Level Bridge at Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada on September 21, 2017.

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Coal Banks Trail is a wandering 30 KM+ trail system throughout Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

Coal Banks Trail is an interconnecting pathway system accessible from many locations throughout the City of Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.  The major trail system is largely paved and also a valuable resource connecting an amazing array of unique historical to modern day attractions.  The Lethbridge Visitor Center can provide a useful map which will aid substantially in navigation.

An example entry point for the pathway system begins near Fort Whoop Up within Indian Battle Park just south of High Level Bridge crossing the Oldman River Valley.  A short walk from Fort Whoop Up towards the Oldman River leads to good signage and a map board where the Coal Banks Trail pathway continues south beneath formidable Whoop Up Drive Bridge.  The busy multiple-lane bridge also has a walkway which is accessible nearby with stairs to link the Coal Banks Trail to additional trail in Buck Trail Park South and Buck Trail Park North to Elizabeth Hall Wetlands along the other (west) side of the Oldman River.  This hike will continue south along the river's east side.

Paved pathway proceeds through forested sections along a picturesque canal and past a concealed police firing range to the signed trail junction where Coal Banks Trail continues uphill on the left.  Riverview Trail continues straight ahead and the short loop, with river adjacent alternative trail, is worthy of the time to include in this Coal Banks Trail hike. 

The clearly-signed and paved Coal Banks Trail heads left on a gentle uphill rise past river valley forest into golden prairie grassland embellished with colorful blooming wildflowers and sweeping vistas across rolling prairie.  There is waning evidence of past mining historical significance and narrow, unofficial pathways on the coulee bottom and over ridge tops providing a heightened wilderness experience.  Construction for expansion of the University of Lethbridge crowns the far-side, west bank of the Oldman River.

The return route is via the same path taken.  Prickly Pear cactus, well camouflaged in the grassland, require sturdy footwear or significant caution.  The barbed spines are sufficiently robust to penetrate soft shoes and can be difficult to extract.  The route back to parking at Fort Whoop Up in Indian Battle Park is a reverse repeat of access.  There are many substantial opportunities to extend hiking on the Coal Banks Trail along both sides of the Oldman River.

The Coal Banks Trail offers significant opportunities to explore the Oldman River Valley and to link into other trail alternatives within the city.

Photographs for this short hike at day's end are captured Wednesday, September 20, 2017 on a portion of the Coal Banks Trail which meanders along both sides of the Oldman River Valley within Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada.

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Full Circle Adventures offers the opportunity to enhance the hiking experience.

The natural world provides many opportunities to satisfy nutrition and healing needs.  The learning experience provides a lifetime of opportunity to become more knowledgeable about the application of practical natural solutions to common maladies.  Generations of civilization have been successfully applying these practical solutions.

Julie Walker provides leadership for a series of hikes which reveal the knowledge required to pursue your own initiative while enjoying the benefits of the outdoors.  Julie is also a knowledgeable and certified guide for year round opportunities to hike and cross country ski within and near the majesty of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

As well as contacting her on her website at Full Circle Adventures, Julie is often resident and sharing her expertise at Norseman Outdoor Specialist, XC Ski, Hike and Climb located at 4655 - 37th Street in Calgary, north off Glenmore Trail West from the Grey Eagle Resort and Casino and west of Mount Royal University.

Phone Norseman Outdoor Specialist at (403) 249-5451

Contact Full Circle Adventures at info@full-circle-adventures.com 

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Ha Ling Peak, the poor old thing, desperately needs some tender, loving care.

The view to the north face of Miner's Peak and Ha Ling from Quarry Lake above Canmore, Alberta Canada

Kananaskis Region, Park Planner, Thea Mitchell, advises there will be access interruptions for popular Ha Ling Peak including complete closures of major portions, or the entire mountain, throughout 2018.

Ha Ling will periodically be unavailable for the popular hike to the Ha Ling Peak summit and Miner’s Peak or for climbing on the vertical north face.

From Thea:

Ha Ling Peak, located in the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park portion of Kananaskis Country, can be accessed via the Spray Lakes Road (Hwy 742) just beyond Whiteman’s Gap between Ha Ling Peak and the East end of Mount Rundle (EEOR)  above Canmore.  Ha Ling Peak appeals to hikers and climbers by providing a number of routes on the south and north sides of the peak.

Ha Ling Peak hiking trail is one of the most popular trails in Kananaskis Country. Over many years, the popular hiking trail has degraded substantially due to erosion from weather combined with very heavy pedestrian use.  To prevent further trail degradation, Alberta Parks will realign the trail during the 2018 summer.

To support construction of the new hiking trail alignment, rock blasting and tree removal are required. To ensure safety for hikers and climbers on Ha Ling Peak, Alberta Parks will implement occasional full mountain closures.  Alberta Parks will not permit access to hiking and climbing routes on Ha Ling Peak during these scheduled, announced and published closures.

The view to Ha Ling Peak across Whiteman's Gap from EEOR

Closures will begin in early April for tree removal and the bulk of trail construction will continue throughout July to October.

Updated information on Ha Ling Peak closures is available at Alberta Parks Public Service advisories.

And from  Lindsay Collins, B.Sc., Dip. Env. Tech.| Project Manager, at Kananaskis Region | Environment and Parks, this Construction Advisory concerning the Closure of Ha Ling Peak.

Please be advised of construction activities taking place on Ha Ling from

April 9th through April 13, 2018

when a full mountain closure will be in place.

Alternate trails are nearby to enjoy time in the mountains.  Consult your hiking guide or Gem Trek Map for alternatives.  Have a great day.  Happy trails and stay safe.

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This popular hiking blog can benefit from a western Canada writer with a passion for hiking and photography.  Please fwd credentials to hiking@hikingwithbarry.com .

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