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The Moose Mountain Hike In Kananaskis Country, AB

The Moose Mountain Hike in Kananaskis Country, AB

The Moose Mountain hike in Kananaskis Country which tops out at 2,437 metres (7,995 feet), offers some of the premier vistas in the area. It’s a popular day hike for those living in the Bragg Creek and Calgary area. From the parking lot the Moose Mountain hike is 13.8 kilometres return with an elevation gain of  473 metres (1,552 feet). Allow 3.5 – 5 hours depending on your speed.

Moose Mountain can be approached by a number of routes. Most hikers do it via the trail that is accessed from a seven kilometre dirt road that takes off from Highway 66 just after the Paddy’s Flat Campground. 

September 2019 update – The final part of the trail leading to the summit is now closed.

The start of the trail via a fire road to Moose Mountain
The start of the trail via a fire road to Moose Mountain
Moose Mountain is the distant peak in the background
Moose Mountain is the distant peak in the background

Route description

The hike starts off on a fire road with the first few kilometres offering only the odd peek-a-boo view. But in roughly three kilometres the landscape opens up and the destination becomes obvious.

It’s a bit of a slog to the top as you switchback 473 metres (1,552 feet) up the mountain in fairly short order.

Fortunately the views just get better and better the higher you go. The landscape also changes, becoming rockier and more desolate the higher you climb. Don’t forget to include warm, wind-proof clothes as you may need everything you’ve got near the summit.

The trail is well-trodden and easy to follow. It’s a popular one so you can expect company.

The approach to Moose Mountain
The approach to Moose Mountain
Nothing but rock as you get closer
Nothing but rock as you get closer
A scree filled path to the top of Moose Mountain
A scree filled path to the top of Moose Mountain
Looking back down on our route
Looking back down on our route
It's a very steep hike as you get close to the top
It’s a very steep hike as you get close to the top

At the top of Moose Mountain there’s a working Fire Lookout – that is also the home to the fire lookout ranger. He or she is tasked with looking after 5,000 square kilometres of forest. Everyone is asked to respect their privacy though I do understand that on occasion they will give a tour of the lookout.

Enjoying the view just below the summit of Moose Mountain
Enjoying the view just below the summit of Moose Mountain
The Fire Lookout at the top of Moose Mountain
The Fire Lookout at the top of Moose Mountain though I understand in 2019 it was being rebuilt

A lunch stop with a view on Moose Mountain

Sitting and eating lunch on the helicopter landing pad or at one of the picnic tables with a 360 degree view is the reward for the two to three hour hike to the top.

Be sure to bring lots of water as there’s nowhere to top up a water bottle along the way. Some people might like hiking poles on the steep sections as well.

Th summit area is no place to be caught in an electrical storm, with so much exposure and nowhere to hide. If a storm is threatening, either turn back if you’re on your way up or beat a hasty retreat. I have been caught in one too many lightning storms and know it’s not worth taking a chance.

Read: The 10 Hiking Essentials Everyone Should Carry

Moose Mountain is a popular spot in the summer
Moose Mountain is a popular spot in the summer
My friend taking in the vista
My friend taking in the vista
Wildflowers at the lower levels of the hike
Wildflowers at the lower levels of the hike
"wildflowers on the Moose Mountain hike"
A blast of colour at the bottom of the trail

For the crazies who like trail runs

For the lover of tough adventure runs, Moose Mountain plays host to an annual Moose Mountain Trail run and the Iron Legs 50 Miler. I think I’ll stick with the hiking?

More information

The best time to hike the trail is from May until October.

It is dog-friendly but keep your dog on a leash. Rangers are happy to ticket in this area and fees run upwards of $150.

Finding the Moose Mountain trailhead

Take Highway 66 from Bragg Creek and follow it just west of the Paddy’s Flats Campground. Turn north (right if coming from Bragg Creek) just past Paddy’s Flat onto the Moose Mountain Fire Road. Follow it to the parking lot. The access road to the trailhead is usually closed until mid-May. 

The hike is often done as a snowshoe in the spring – appreciating you have to add the time to hike up the access road – which I believe is 7 kilometres on way. It could turn into an epic day in short order. If you hike in May be prepared for lots of snow in some years. 

Further reading on hikes in Kananaskis Country

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterset boards.

The Moose Mountain Hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. We’ve hiked a few times to a fire look out in the Methow Valley of Washington State (the area recently devasted by fire then flood) and always had a joyous visit with the Ranger “Lightening Bill”. . .the lookout however isn’t quite as fancy as this one appears but the views you showed made me think it is time to go visit Bill again and take in whats left of our scenic vistas.

  2. I’ve never been to Alberta, but your photos are quite an enticement. My most ambitious hike was in Fiordland National Park in New Zealand on the South Island (the Milford Track). Amazing scenery can quickly make one forget the pain of a slog up hill—assuming one can still breathe and walk. Since I’m a United Stateser, I find it odd that I’ve hiked in New Zealand, but not in the land of our friendly (and apologetic) northern neighbors.

  3. Is it wrong that I was hoping for a moose picture in this post 🙂 Those panoramas are definitely worth the climb even if the trail is rocky and not as scenic as your other trails. Love that photo of you at the top! I can’t believe how much responsibility those fire lookout rangers have.

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