Distance: 6 km
Elevation gain: 700 mView mapDownload GPS track
Aching to get out after a weather and work-induced hiatus from hiking, we decided on a short snowshoe trip up a ridge behind (to the west of) Kananaskis Village. As the ridge abuts Mt. Kidd and once housed a fire lookout, it is commonly referred to as Mt. Kidd lookout.
There are two general routes up to the former lookout. The preferred summer route heads steeply up the grassy eastern slopes, but this should be avoided when snow covered as the avalanche risk is significant. However, viewing from the parking lot it was clear these slopes were nearly devoid of snow and thus we decided to leave the snowshoes in the car and simply hike up. Were they snow covered, the preferred route ascends further to the north, sticking to the trees and for the most part following the spine of the ridge. For descriptions of this route, in particular the bushwhacking involved, see reports by Vern Dewitt
and Bob Spirko
Under snow cover there is no actual trail to follow, but in general follow the snowshoe and ski trails (don't mess up the tracksetting!) from the lodge parking lot as high as they will take you, then begin ascending through the trees. We lucked out and found a well-packed snowshoe trail that lead up to the grassy slopes. Once you emerge into the open, simply continue ascending. We stayed to the right of the minor gully as it was clear there was enough snow to avalanche in that area. When trees are encountered near the top, angle to the left (southwest), ascending above the aforementioned gully. While the ascent of the grassy slope is straightforward, it is grueling due to the steepness and it took us over 2.5 hours to reach the former lookout, despite a one-way distance of less than 2.5 km! The main problem is that the terrain is highly uneven which necessitates taking unnaturally large and awkward steps that frequently result in twisted and strained muscles. While this may be less of a problem in the summer, the patchy snow and ice made things quite difficult this time around.
From the former lookout site - now just a few concrete pads - we hiked along the ridge to an obvious high point about 500 m from the lookout. The views don't really change much along the way, but after the struggle to get up the ridge we didn't much feel like turning around and heading down right away.