Highest Hiking Trail in the Canadian Rockies
Located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is the highest hiking trail in the Canadian Rockies. At the summit of Mount Allen the trail is 2840 meters above sea level. The trail to Olympic Pass, Centennial Pass and Mount Allen was built by the Rocky Mountain Ramblers over three years starting in 1966. There is a plaque in the rock garden commemorating this groups effort. See the post for the Centennial Pass to Mount Allen Trail for directions to the trail and some details of the route. The hike starts near the Nakiska Ski area. For some reason I had it in my mind that I would spend half the day hiking up a ski run and were it not for the fact that this trail is reputed to be the highest in the Canadian Rockies I would have convinced the others in my group to find a different trail.
After walking approximately 1.7 kilometers and crossing Coal Mine Trail for the second time you will be on Centennial Pass Trail. The trail goes through the forest to the tree line breaking into a couple of openings with views of Mount Bogart to the west.
Once the forest is behind you the trail climbs aggressively, 700 meters in elevation over approximately 2 kilometers, that is close to a 30% grade. The trail switchbacks on the grassy hillside. It is every bit as steep as it appears in this photo.
On the way, at 2250 meters in elevation I saw this grouse.
I was surprised because I usually see these birds in a valley not at higher elevations. I later saw several after climbing an additional 250 meters in elevation. At approximately 2300 meters is the first section of light scrambling. All of the sections are at most about 10 feet in height and not technical. Once you are above the Nakiska ski area (Olympic Summit) there are two weather stations on the ridge. This is the first of the two.
From this point the worst of the climbing is over but Mount Allen is still at least 2 kilometers in the distance. Mount Allen is a distinctive red colour in comparison to the other peaks in the area.
On the way to Mount Allen you will pass through the rock garden which is a worthwhile destination if you do not have the time or desire to tackle the final ascent to the top of Mount Allen.
This is the entrance to the rock garden and below that my picture of one of the pinnacles that line the ridge above the valley below.
Throughout this hike the trails are well defined. The final climb is on shale and scree to the peak. Once at the peak the views of the area are spectacular. To the west is Wind Mountain and Mount Lougheed.
To the northwest is a series of ridges that can only be appreciated in person. The ridge looks like a point at which the tectonic plates have been pushed up into a straight ridge.
To the east is another mountain, not important enough for Mapsource to include it in the topographical maps of the area. but it is called Mount Colembola. If you were looking to bag a second peak, from the distance this one looks like a non-technical climb.