If you love a good waterfall hike, then put the Ribbon Falls hike in Kananaskis…
The Sugar Mama – Sugar Daddy hike is part of a loop that starts at the Allen Bill parking lot off Highway 66 near Bragg Creek, Alberta. It’s a great shoulder-season or winter hike that delivers a workout because of its length. But I’d give it a pass in the summer (unless you bike it) when you get up into the mountains at higher elevations.
The full loop is just under 14 km long and is made up of short sections of the Elbow, Snagmore, Strange Brew, and Bobcat trails along with 4.0 km on the Sugar Daddy trail and 3.3 kilometres on the Sugar Mama trail. There is an elevation gain of approximately 345 m of the Sugar Mama hike.
These loop trails are meant to be shared with mountain bikers. Even though the trail was quite icy in early March, there were plenty of bikers, especially on the Strange Brew connector. Be prepared to pull over at a moment’s notice.
Sugar Mama hike details
There is signage on the Sugar Mama hike but some of it sure is faded. Take a photo of any map you see as it can be a little confusing if it’s your first time in the area. We tried to do the Sugar Mama hike a few years ago and ended up doing the Fullerton Loop – which fortunately wasn’t a hardship.
From the Allen Bill Trailhead walk over to the obvious trailhead and hop on the Elbow Trail. Take it to reach the intersection to the Fullerton loop in 1.2 easy kilometres. The Sugar Mama intersection is next, just another 100 – 200 metres long the main trail.
We opted to continue another kilometre or so to reach the Sugar Daddy intersection with the plan to hike the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. Both directions would be fine as the elevation gain (345 metres) is not so dramatic that one way is better than the other.
You access the Sugar Daddy trail off of the Snagmore Trail. Although you only hike for about a kilometre on the Snagmore trail, it’s really lovely ridge walking with views of the Elbow River. Once we were on the Snagmore trail we didn’t see another soul for several hours. (No COVID-19 worries here.)
The Sugar Daddy part of the hike
The Sugar Daddy section of trail was the longest – and hardest, but that was only because we opted to do loop counter-clockwise and so did 95% of the climbing on Sugar Daddy. This section of trail was made up of lovely open forest. Just 100 metres shy of the intersection with Strange Brew, we found mostly dry outcropping with a view in the sun for lunch.
Then it was onto Strange Brew which I have snowshoed several times from the West Bragg Creek area; I highly recommend it. But I had never noticed the intersection of the Sugar Daddy trail before. It was more climbing than I expected to reach my favourite viewpoint. And then lovely ridge walking to reach the Bobcat Trail.
The Bobcat – Sugar Mama hike
Once we hit the Bobcat trail, most of the hiking was downhill so our pace quickened. The dogs bounced back too and seemed to have more energy.
You will eventually find signage on the Bobcat trail for the Sugar Mama trail. It took us about an hour once we were on it to get back to the car. It was more of the same – beautiful open forest, fresh pine scent and no one around.
When you’re looking for a trail that delivers a moderate workout in winter with no avalanche danger this one is a great choice.
Finding the Allen Bill parking lot
From the intersection of Highway 22 and 66 just south of Bragg Creek, drive 9.8 kilometres southwest on Highway 66 to reach the well-signed Allen Bill Trailhead on the north side of the highway.
For trail conditions and updates check out this link on the Alberta Parks website.
Further reading on things to do in the Bragg Creek area
- The Year Round Prairie Mountain Hike near Bragg Creek
- Snowshoeing the West Bragg Creek trails, Alberta
- The Fabulous Forget-Me-Not Ridge
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