Today the weather was +13 Celsius (We’re in Canada, its Celsius here) which is the warmest it has been this year so far. The snow is melting and its starting to look like spring is around the corner. The whole city of Calgary seems to have come alive all at the same time. Charlotte and I decided to get out and get some vitamin D much like the rest of the city. We figured we would do Beaver Flats trail as we have done it a couple of times before and its a nice short hike with great views. Its a great little starting hike to get back into it or to start taking it up.
The hike starts, or has its trailhead, at the Elbow falls parking lot. You follow the trail upstream of the falls for about 2 or 3 km’s so its not exactly a long or strenuous hike but that’s not what you are looking for when you try to get back into hiking. The trail winds between the extension of Highway 66, which is currently closed, on one side and the river on the other. The highway is closed from Dec 1st until mid-May usually but it is closed right after Elbow falls recreation area which means the trail is always accessible.
As a photographer, one of the reasons why I love this trail so much is that every time I have gone, its been relatively quiet. Not quiet enough to see any of the beavers or other wildlife in the area but quiet enough to escape from people if that’s your goal.
I mentioned before that the trail follows the river and as you go further up, you walk past numerous beaver dams. These are great partly because they are old dams, so parts of them are covered in moss which makes for great shots but they also work to slow down the flow of the water tremendously. This means that on a calm day (like today) the water is very still and you can get some fantastic reflection shots.
Today, it was Charlotte, her brother Nick, his 2-year old Lexton, Charlotte’s two dogs Sybil and Oliver and myself. Lexton, being so young gets carried on Nicks back in a backpack, then since both Sybil and Oliver are fairly large dogs, Charlotte took one pup and I walked the other. Since I was walking one of the dogs I didn’t take out my big dSLR until a lot later on in the hike so I only took a couple of shots on the big camera and used my phone for most of it. All of the pictures in this post except for the main image at the top are all phone pics.
We walked the trail until we reached the campgrounds which seems to be the end of the trail. It might only seem to be the end of the trail because that is where we lost the trail. The campgrounds are currently closed due to covid so you cannot use the washrooms if needed so make sure you take that into account. It also means that there are few trails within the campground which is where we ended up getting turned around. We ended up following on the way back which forced up to make our own trail at the end. We ended up having to push our way through knee-high snow and that was surprisingly tiring. Probably more so for Charlotte than Nick or I since she was at the front because that’s where Sybil insists to be. Both Oliver and Sybil were jumping to get through the snow which is great as they are both high energy pups and it tired them out quite nicely. They have been sleeping for the last few hours.
The entire hike took us about 2 hours even with going off trail and pushing our way through the snow. I would definitely recommend using microspikes at this time of year as there were some icy patches. There is one steep hill that's not a long hill, I guess its more of a tall embankment but it was really icy. I am looking forward to doing this hike again in the height of summer when there is no snow and the ponds are fully thawed. I think that will make for some spectacular shots. If I come during late afternoon I should be able to get some fantastic reflections on the water.