Added by James Hueser
Distance: 10 km (6 miles) round tripDuration: 3.5 hoursElevation gain: 700 m (2300 feet)See Old Goat GlacierSnowshoe through difficult winter terrain
The trialhead is found on West Side Road on the west side of Spray Lakes Resevoir. In winter, West Side Road is closed to vehicles due to dogsled tours, but is still open to walking - it's a pretty neat experience to get passed by a dozen sled dog teams. Since the road is closed, it adds an extra kilometre or two to the day, but it's an easy walk so not very noticeable.
There's an open space that's used as a parking lot in the summer, the trailhead is not there! Keep walking south and the trailhead is marked by a chain gate and signs. The trail follows the drainage channel through the forest. Further along the path, the channel breaks down and becomes less defined out of the trees. Keep moving along the path and the river valley turns into a fully fledged debris field.
A waterfall/icefall/15 m cliff face is in front of you and this is a great point to look back and and around. The peaks of Old Goat mountain loom above you and Big Sister can be seen to the east. Do not continue to the right of the waterfall, continue to the left. In winter, this is an avalanche zone and should not be attempted when conditions are anything less than favorable. However, if it's safe to continue, it's the path that takes you to Old Goat Glacier.
Hopefully your pre-hike preparation included boning up on glacial geomorphology so you'll be able to identify the lateral moraine that has been deposited by the glacier as well as being able to appreciate the small - but eventually formidable - processes that created the glacier and landscape.
The day ends with a walk back to your car down West Side Road and it's something to behold. Spray Valley is one of my favourite places to spend time in the Rockies, so I highly recommend going off the road and down to the shoreline to be able to see as far north and far south as you can, while still being totally surrounded by peaks.
- Hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Winter layers
- Bear spray
- Avalanche report
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