Windtower Ridge Resort
aka The Mineshaft
Any fine collector of armchair literature should easily be able to find his copy of the Calgary Mountain Club newsletter from the 90s with a front page story about this shelter-hut-contraption along the ascent to the Windtower. Climb into it and have lunch but be very aware of dodgey construction material like nails peering down! After hiking an hour from the Smith-Dorien to the Windtower-Rimwall col(a much better place really to snack than inside the hut!) continue up the shoulder to the Windtower closer to the edge than away from it and within about 200m you should find it tucked beside some boulders. And the wood got here how?!
Feng Shui Photo Stop
A perfect spot to set up the camera and kiss longingly as the shutter snaps leaving an image with a most pleasing, romantic backdrop that a BW image here will not do justice so we won’t try – just go check it out yourself. To find this pristine wilderness shot, drive the Smith-Dorien south from Canmore to where Spencer Creek meets the road and Mt.Sparrowhawk towers above. Find a cairn on the left side of the wide creek/meadow and hike up for only a short, easy five minutes plus. The forest darkens up and a bubbling creek emerges upon you and the bright green mossy woods which have a enchanted Robin Hood aura. The area is truly remarkable and you have only about 50m square to find the right angle for the perfect photo.
As you drive west of Cochrane, you will soon either have the chance to get onto Hwy#1 via a short-cut through the town of Morley, or, you can continue along the curvy Hwy#1A to Yamnuska. At the turn south leading through the hamlet of Morley, peer up north onto a bumped grassy hill to witness the red statue of the man on the horse. Be very careful of traffic, the road is very narrow.
Oldest Trees in Kananaskis
On an off day, this point of interest can be hiked to any time of the year however, summer may be the finest when the forest floor is visible. This small group of trees are the oldest known stand recorded thus far in K-Country and date back to 1696. All of the park has burned down at some point in history and this mystic area has held on the longest. A grizzly hangs out here keeping the trail shut down many months of the year typically.
Park at the south lot of Upper Kananaskis Lake. Hike along the easy graded Upper Circuit Trail for about 5.5km. These trees are at the north end of Hidden Lake, there is no sign, but their size/foliage will give it away. Only 5% of pines in Kananaskis Country have survived longer than 200 years.
Apparently this is the name, officiallywe are not too sure, but a sign of this tiny island on Lac Des Arcs west end calls it so. From the large car pullout on the west end of Lac Des Arcs along Highway #1, go down scree to the water’s edge. Float on out. Or start from the massive tourist pullout near Heart Creek and cruise along the interesting rocky shoreline and out to the island. There is a Canadian flag and picnic table on the island. Best to dock on the west side.
A popular local attraction and hike to this old manmade cave on the east facing end of Mt.McGillvary just a 20 minutes hike from the large pullout along the Trans-Canada. Follow a trail up near the roadcut into the forest which comes out onto part of the Cross Canada Trail. Follow a trail up to the cliff. Should be obvious. Take some headlamps in for a direct 100m, then turn left into a few chambers that have had many parties over the decades. In the past few years some yahoos have spray painted some ‘pictographs’ on the walls.
Prairie Creek Homestead
An odd fort.
This structure is large enough for a few hikers and has good views of downtown Calgary which can be seen through the cutline that lines up with the hut.
Finding the hut can be difficult but your best chance is to hike up the White Buddha climbing cliffs. Walk to the far right(east) end and scramble up the hill above to the top of the ridge. From here walk along the treed ridge west for about 10 to 15 minutes but may be more. As the ridge dips down, watch for a narrow cutline heading back north-east. From here the hut is only a seconds down the cutline. Any guess why it is here? If you hike the trail to the Prairie Creek sport crag and look up to the backside of where the White Buddha would be situated you should see a large open scree slope. This shack basically sits 200m right of the scree slope in the trees along a cutline.
This is not KCountry! but as close as you can get: it’s southern Saskatchewan and where one can conquer the province’s highest peak or so they say. It is a beautiful landmark near the town of Coronach which offers tours or do it yourself. Scratch your way up the south gully to the top. Magnificent views. Drive Highway #6 south of Regina about 2 hours and go west on highway(used loosely) #18 until the peak is obvious. Bring oxygen.
Wind Ridge North Cave
If you park at that old boarded up wooden teepee at Dead Man’s Flats where a historical sign talks about how the hamlet got it’s name, look up and south to the heavilly wooded ridge – Wind Ridge. If you park in this general area and hike up the left gully(Cairn Creek) and then depart it somewhere – which is the key, somewhere – to the left or east, you will come across a dank cave. It is lined with rock and is not very wide, but a headlamp will help uncover any forgotten details to those whom seek out caves. Be very careful there are no bears inside! Wish someone would turn that thing into a coffee shop!
Aged Kananaskis Sign
An antique of the park, you could carbon date it to find out how old it is, but chances are you can drive the entire park and you won’t find a Kananaskis Country sign this old. If your interested in relics, this is worth a photo. Take Hwy#22 south of Longview and turn west onto the gravel #532 for 20+km to the winter gate closure near Plateau Mountain Road/Wilkinson Summit. That’s a Yukon Cornelious plush doll at lower left of the photo.
Not much to see but history buffs may enjoy a photo of a very old wooden water aquaduct found about one kilometer down the road from Bluerock near an high opening in the trail trees. Look on the south side, it can be hard to spot!
Upper Kananaskis Lake Chimney
Park as for the Everest Expedition Trail and follow it for five minutes to a fork. Go left and follow it out onto the peninsula; you will pass the remnants of an old chimney that was once a homestead, continue out onto the photogenic peninsula to relax.