Added by James Hueser
Mount Allan is a long ascent, but one of the best ridge walks in the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies. It takes you through various alpine environments - forest, alpine meadow, rock garden, and a nice scree slog to the summit. It's also a very attainable objective in winter for all elevation junkies out there!
Mount Allan is a 14 km hike that gains 1400 metres of elevation and was one of my favourite hikes when I first moved to Calgary. On a recent snowshoe, a couple I crossed paths with mentioned they had just done Mount Allan in December, so I knew I had to put it on my winter list!
The trail begins at the Ribbon Creek parking lot, near the Nakiska ski hill. The trail begins in the northeast corner of the parking lot and follows the cross country ski trail called Hidden Trail for about 15-20 minutes. Remember! When walking/snowshoeing on cross country ski trails, stay off to the side as to not tear up the groomed path - especially the tracks that are set! Keep an eye out for the trail signs as you pass by since there are a few forks that you need to navigate. Long story short, keep following Hidden Trail until you get to an intersection for Coal Mine trail. Take Coal Mine trail for about 100 steps and you'll see a small trail split off to the left.
After that turn, it's pretty straightforward. You'll walk through a forest for about 15 minutes and pop out to - what you'll think is - the most stunning view of the day. The lookout is in an alpine meadow (during spring and summer), but a snowy slope in winter. It opens up to Kananaskis valley is some great motivation to keep trekking!
The trail follows the ridge all the way to the south summit of Mount Allan. I had used snowshoes for my trip, but only used them about half of the time. There was one instance at the bottom of the second pinnacle where they were super useful, but other than that, I think some microspikes would have sufficed.
You'll pass a couple of weather stations and wildlife cameras as you walk along the ridge, and then eventually come across the rock garden - which is one of my favourite parts. The rock garden is a bunch of gigantic conglomerate boulders, not often seen in this part of the Rockies! The trail winds through the rock garden and drops down through the cracks in the vertical slabs -- a bit of hands-on downclimbing might be required. Once through the small rock garden, you walk through a tunnel of the same vertical conglomerate and eventually stand face to face with the Claw. I won't go into detail as you'll know the Claw when you see it.
After the Claw, it's just a solid push to the summit where you get some impressive views of Kananaskis valley as well as towards Canmore. Take a breath, take it all in. And keep your eyes open for different perspectives of the unique features of this hike as you descend!
- Hiking boots
- Hiking poles
- Traction aid -- could be snowshoes, microspikes, walking crampons
- Appropriate winter layers
- Water and snacks
- Bear spray
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