Distance: Just under 15 km (loop)
Elevation Gain: 605m
This is an amazing hike!
We did this hike July 2021. It was a bit hazy but it didn’t smell overly smoky so we decided to continue our plan of hiking up to the lookout. With my asthma, hiking in the smoke is not very easy so I tend to avoid it if I can. (I usually use Fire Smoke as well as weather stations to determine how bad the smoke is out at a location I am planning on visiting.)
This trail starts at Barrier Lake in Kananaskis. You start on a gravel road before hitting the forest.
I went with my friends in K and M. We started early in the morning (which I always recommend!) so we could get a good parking spot, start the hike in cooler temperatures, and avoid the crowds. This trail started quite wide and rocky so it was an easy one to walk with friends. There weren’t too many people out yet so we only saw a few other people on the trail.
You gain elevation steadily on this hike. The views are worth it! We stopped at a view, thinking this was the top.
It was not.
But I mean, can you imagine what it would look like without the smoke?! Mount Baldy was just visible through the haze.
This ridge is fairly unprotected so we didn’t have a lot of shade but we enjoyed the sunshine, view, and a few moments of quiet reflection.
This snack view was definitely filling my soul with happiness! Lots of rocks to sit on, a beautiful unobstructed view, and warm sunshine. After we had finished taking in the view for the moment, we packed up and continued on.
A short distance later, we discovered that we hadn’t reached Prairie View like we had thought.
This look out spot was a 270 degree view of mountains. Although the haze was threatening to obstruct our view, it was clear enough to get the idea of the expansiveness in front of us. Being out on the ledge was a highlight – you felt free.
Our lunch spot was on this ledge. We had our sandwiches and watched the world go by. Hikers came and went. A few ground squirrels wanted some of our lunch but we kindly reminded them that they would not get anything from us. The haze stayed with us but it didn’t smell smoky.
From here you can continue up a bit farther up the mountain to Barrier Fire Lookout but we choose to bypass that for now. Another day.
From this point you can either turn around and continue back down the trail you just came up, but we chose to continue on Jewel Pass instead.
From the ridge, we descended into forest again. The trail narrowed significantly and has more roots than before.
Heads up, I fell twice. Slightly embarrassing but nothing serious. Watch out for those roots!
One of the reasons we chose to take Jewel Pass was because of a waterfall that was said to be on the trail. When we got to the spot, the waterfall was almost dried up.
This just reiterated how dry the summer of 2021 was. The waterfall was a trickle. Barely a spray.
This part of the trail was downhill for us which took us through some incredible forest trails with impressive rock formations. I always enjoy this part of trails. The forest, the smells, the crazy rock structures – I love looking at the diversity that a forest can have.
The last 4kms of our hike was along Barrier Lake. While the view of the lake was pretty, it was the most unremarkable part of the hike. The trail is very well marked and was wide enough for the three of use to walk side by side.
At the end of this hike, taking your boots off and dipping them in the lake was heavenly. The cool water was refreshing on your toes.
Overall, this was a beautiful hike with great friends. I would definitely do it again!
Have you done this trail before? If so, how did you like it?