Just because it’s cold outside and the ground is covered in snow doesn’t mean you…
The Moose Mountain hike in Kananaskis Country which tops out at 2,437 m (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 km return with an elevation gain of 473 m (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 7 km dirt road that takes off from Highway 66 just after the Paddy’s Flat Campground.
June 2020 update – I understand that the trail is closed past Moose Packers Trail until September 30th for construction.
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 m (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.
At the top of Moose Mountain there was a working Fire Lookout – that was also the home to the fire lookout ranger. He or she was tasked with looking after 5,000 square km of forest. I am not sure what has replaced the fire lookout.
A lunch stop with a view
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 is 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.
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?
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.
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 km on way. It could turn into an epic day in short order. If you hike in May, there can still be lots of snow in some years.
Further reading on hikes in Kananaskis Country
- Prairie Mountain – A Year Round Day Hike from Calgary
- The Fantastic Hike to the Summit of Ha Ling Peak
- The Cox Hill Hike in Kananaskis Country
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