Cross Country Skiing to Skogan Pass From Dead Man’s Flat
I don’t think many people think about cross country skiing to Skogan Pass from Dead Man’s Flat.
But last weekend that’s exactly what John and I set out to do. We wanted a trail that was reasonably close to home and this one fit the bill. Access is via an easy one hour drive from Calgary. The trailhead itself is just a kilometer up the road from the Dead Mans Flat exit off the Trans-Canada Highway – before you even get to Canmore.
I didn’t read much of the route description until after the fact. Stupidly we’d left the trail guide in the car and didn’t have a map either. But fortunately the trail is a snap to follow. What I hadn’t appreciated is that the guide did say to allow a full day. Starting at 11 am doesn’t exactly allow for that.
It was a glorious spring like day and there was a touch of fresh snow on the ground – luckily as this trail has a reputation for thin snow cover.
The view from the parking lot of Mount Lougheed
The trail took off from the far end of the parking lot. It started easily enough with a few hundred meters of flat skiing through the trees. Then you reach the powerline.
That’s where you’re going.
The trail weaves its way under the powerline and into the trees for a total of roughly 4.5 kilometers. Then it turns sharply left and continues to climb – but away from the powerline. I chose to skin up here as my wax wasn’t behaving.
Looking down towards Canmore from the not so pretty start to the trail under the power line
After three long switchbacks you break out of the woods into a meadow.
And the views from here are superb. All the huffing and puffing was worthwhile.
Out of the trees and into this open area
Landscape above the trail just after you emerge from the woods
Me – resting in the snow
One of the few skiers we say all day
It took another 30 or 40 minutes of climbing to put us at the spot where the group of Japanese skiers we bumped into stopped for lunch. By then we’d climbed for 2½ solid hours. The views from here were so incredible that I was tempted to just call it a day.
But John was keen to continue. And so we did. From here on in it was back into the trees with some peek a boo views to the distant peaks. It was much slower going as we had to break trail and the snow was DEEP – but the grade was far more gentle then it had been all day.
Breaking trail from here on in
Beautiful section of trail with loads of snow
We continued for about another hour but still didn’t reach the pass. We were close, perhaps a kilometer away but I figured it would take us quite a while to ski back down and voted to turn around.
Our turn around point
Once out of the woods on the return, we were greeted with this view. The drop-off suggested a small waterfall come the summer.
Fantastic views of Mount Lougheed
Close-up view of the distant peaks
The descent ended up being far faster and actually easier than I anticipated.
I put skins on for part of the descent to slow me down. John didn’t but he’s a more accomplished skier than I am. It took us only 90 minutes – including a late lunch break on the way out – to ski back down to the parking lot.
We’d had the trail to ourselves for most of the day. The only people we’d seen were the group of about 10 Japanese skiers.
Once down and back in the car I had a look at the guidebook. It turns out you can ski to Skogan Pass from the Ribbon Creek area over in Kananaskis – and as one friend later told me that’s what most people do.
Despite skiing under an ugly powerline for a good hour, I loved this trail and the views it offered. It’s not often that you get a trail to yourself for most of the day so close to home, especially when it’s a blue sky kind of day.
In total we skied for five hours – 3½ hours up and 1½ hours down. If we’d made it to Skogan Pass we would have skied 19 kilometers in total. I figure we did about 17 kilometers and climbed about 610 meters (2000 feet).
Have you cross country skied to Skogan Pass? Did you do it from Dead Man’s Flat or from the Ribbon Creek area in Kananaskis Country?
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