Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 1000 mView mapDownload GPS track
With Sandra nursing a cold and me aching to get out for a birthday weekend hike, we had to find something that would be both easy and scenic. Complicating matters was the foot of fresh snow blanketing most of Kananaskis and southern Banff National Park, but after a bit of investigating I discovered that it hadn't stormed further to the northwest. That drastically shrunk the list of possible excursions and we quickly settled on Paget Peak.
Paget Peak is a very common and easy scramble in Yoho National Park. It shares the same trailhead as Sherbrooke Lake and Niles Meadow
, branching off to the right of this trail at about the 1.4 km mark. The trail is in excellent condition and well graded to an abandoned fire lookout at the 3.6 km mark. As evidence of just how easy this section is, even with Sandra's clogged lungs and sinuses we took just 70 minutes to reach the lookout. Views are great from here too, so even if this is the end of your day you'll still feel a sense of accomplishment. It's a great beginner hike in that respect.
To continue to Paget Peak, pick up the trail entering the forest just behind a big boulder on the door side of the lookout (north). The trail is initially quite obvious. Five minutes or so from the lookout enter a boulder and scree field. The trail begins ascending much more steeply now and is less distinct, but cairns can help guide you from this point forward. There are three obstacles between you and the summit at this point: Some rock bands, a steep ascent, and a short downclimb.
The rock bands are encountered first, but can be easily skirted on the left (on decent trail, if you didn't lose it). The steep ascent of the false summit is next, but isn't that challenging if you chose your route carefully. I preferred larger rocks to the small lose scree of the trail over this section. The most challenging, or at least unnerving part, is a short 2 m downclimb at the north end of the false summit. It's easy, but there is a real sense of exposure here and if you get bad vertigo you'll feel it here! After this, however, it's a short walk to the slightly higher summit to the north. You'll be 1000 m higher than your car at this point!
From the summit it is possible to continue further north along the obvious ridge to a higher point, but as it was a bit miraculous we'd made it this far with Sandra's sniffles we instead called it a day. Descending was quick and easy, especially from the lookout down, and we even made it back to Calgary in time for dinner at a reasonable hour!