Kananaskis Fire Lookout

Kananaskis Fire Lookout

Hi everyone, 

I hope you had a fantastic week and that life, in the name of adventure, is treating you well. 

This week we wanted to try the last couple of hikes down Highway 40 in Kananaskis because it is the last few times we will be able to access those hikes for the next 6 months. The highway closes from December 1st to June 15th every year, and it's not hard to see why after this past weekend. The road south of the hike was almost like a sheet of glass in the afternoon. 

Trail to Kananaskis Fire Lookout

We left Calgary at our regular time of 9am. The sun was already rising, but the weather was surprisingly warm considering how soon it was since sunrise. It must be a Chinook. They are defined by the warm wind blowing from the mountains. They are fascinating phenomena if you want to look into them. However, since Chinooks only affect the prairies, the mountains would still be pretty chilly. I dressed for the cold, which was a good thing because it did end up being overcast and very cold in the mountains. I believe the weather apps were calling for about -10C when we arrived. 

We took the trans-Canada (Highway 1) out of Calgary as we were meeting some people at the petrol station that sits on the corner of Highway 1 and Highway 40. It had been a while since we had last headed out that way. It did seem quicker, but according to the maps, going that route was only 7 minutes faster than going south through Black Diamond, so there is no real difference if you take traffic into account.

On the way up to Kananaskis Fire Lookout

We got to the trail around 11am and took our time getting ready in the cold. There was a thick dusting of snow all over the place. I used my spikes that could be used as weapons again. I'm thankful that I did too. The trail started pretty flat to begin with, but after about 3 or 4 km, it started to rise pretty steeply. In the fairly thick snow, it became hard to walk uphill, which is why I was glad for the spikes. The trail was really wide and we only passed a few cross-country skiers. We tried to stay on the right side of the trail so that we didn't do any damage to the groomed cross-country skiing trails. I think we passed someone who didn't think we were doing enough though. I didn't hear exactly what they were saying, but it sounded like they were unhappy about something as they passed us. 

The friend we stopped to meet at the petrol station on the corner of Highway 1 and Highway 40 lives on a ranch and decided to bring one of his herding dogs with him. Zeus is a beautiful border collie. Since he is a working dog, he was left off the leash. There wasn't any concern though, since the dog would listen straight away to any command given, including walking at the heels of any one of the group. Watson, my dog, is definitely not nearly as well trained as I don't take him on the hikes, especially the cold ones in the snow, but seeing how well Zeus reacted, I am thinking I need to get back into training Watson. 

View from the Kananaskis Fire Lookout

We arrived at the fire lookout after about 2 and a half hours of hiking. The views were amazing and there was a picnic bench there, so we decided to stop for lunch. After walking up the hill, it seemed like a great place to stop for a while. That stop lasted about 5 minutes before people were trying to scarf down their food and put extra layers on. The wind picked up and, since we were no longer moving, the cold set in pretty quickly. 

As I said, the views were amazing; they just weren't easy to photograph as the tips of the trees sit right in front of the Upper K and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. Basically, I feel you just need to get a little higher. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to find any extra elevation. If drones were allowed in the park, this would definitely be a good spot to try, but they are not allowed in national or provincial parks without jumping through a lot of hoops. 

View from the top of the Fire Lookout

I would like to do the hike in the summer again, although I do feel like winter might be the best time to do this hike. Have you done this hike? What did you think?

That's it for this week. I look forward to seeing you soon. I also have some big ideas for this site, so stay tuned!


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