Prairie Mountain has been on my list for a while and this past Saturday we finally hiked it! For over a month now, I’ve been stuck in the city; My practicum started and my life revolved around school, lesson planning and sewing for a few spring markets.
Less then an hours drive outside of Calgary, Prairie Mountain is worth the burning legs. With stunning views of the prairies on one side to the dramatic mountain scape on the other, it’s a great workout to start the hiking season.
We underestimated the ice, but were lucky to have at least one set of crampons between the both of us (that was the saving grace near the top of the icy, steep incline). We also shared a pair of gloves, which was crucial on our way down (we slid on our butts, toboggan style, the majority of way down).
Two hikers told us to start hiking up a faint path off the side of the road (before the winter gate, next to the parked cars) following up until a left turn that leads to the correct trail. Thank goodness we ran into them… we would’ve struggled to find the trail as there is no clearly marked trail head (that we could see), it levels out for a bit and then is a constant uphill until you clear the trees near the top. Bring layers, it is chilly and extremely windy at the flag!
Get outside, don’t be scared… Prairie Mountain is worth it.
5/52: Prairie Mountain
- Level: Moderate-Difficult
- Distance: 7.5km (in and out)
- Elevation: 726m
- Time: 4-5 hours
- Spectacular 360 degree views of the prairies and mountains
- Close to Calgary
- Year round hike
- Great hike to start the season
- Trail can be difficult to find and not clearly marked (ask for directions, hikers told us to start straight up the side (from the shoulder, about 100 meters before the winter gate, there is a slight path and then there will be a left turn onto the main trail)
- Icy during this time of year
- Extremely windy and chilly at the top
- Can be busy, a very popular hike
- Overall: If you’re up for a bit of a challenge this is your perfect spring hike. It is strenuous, but very, very possible (we ran into a gentleman who was 63 years old and had a record climb of 1hr and 50 minutes). Trees cover the majority of the hike, with great views at the beginning and halfway through at a small lookout, but the views at the top are well worth it! Pictures with the Canadian flag and the breath taking views adds this hike to the top of my list.
Directions: From Calgary, Head west on Highway 1 and merge onto highway 22 (towards Bragg Creek) then turn right on highway 66 west. Park on the shoulder of the road right at the winter gates (next to the Elbow Falls Parking lot).