I finally made it around Elbow Loop. Can someone tell me what the structure is below that I came across at the highpoint of the trail? Maybe if I know its purpose I will understand why someone would haul it into the middle of the backcountry.
The sign as you enter Bragg Creek claims that it is the Gateway to Kananaskis. If you are from Calgary this is probably the most used access point to K-Country. I thought I would do a quick post on the top hikes in this area along highway #66. My hands down favourite is Nihani Ridge. This was probably the first hike I did when I moved to Alberta and it remains my favourite. If you include the scramble to the top the hike is probably a total of 10 kilometers and it is every bit as steep in the final sections before the scrambling begins as it looks in this photo.
The difference between this hike and the others in this area is that the scenery is unmatched.
A close second is Moose Mountain. This hike is extremely popular. For the most part you walk along a fire road which I find less enjoyable than a trail that winds its way through the forest. When I first heard about this hike, all of the descriptions included the fire observation post which is the highest in Alberta. As I walked along Moose Mountain I was wondering where the lookout was located. The trail goes from the right side of the picture and up over the top of the mountain on the left
It seems that you traverse the peak on the left of the photo, do a quick descent and then climb a second which is directly behind the first and out of view in the photo above. Through the clouds here is a poor photo of the lookout from the gully in between the two peaks. I would call it extreme living.
Finally, I also really liked Prairie Mountain for the view of Calgary on a clear day but until you get to the top there is little to see and it felt to me like a continual climb with little reward until you reached the peak. For this reason I would recommend Prairie Creek over Prairie Mountain. Prairie Creek allows you to see the backside of Prairie Mountain. The Prairie Creek Trail is a nice relatively gentle hike through the woods which only has a total elevation gain of 300 meters over 12 kilometers. The views are not overly spectacular but the trail seems less popular than others so you come across fewer people. This can sometimes make up for the lack of sweeping views of the mountain valleys. Even still, as seen in this photo from one of the spots where the trail climbs the side of the valley, not the worst scenery I have come across.