Distance: 14 km
Elevation gain: 540 m View map Download GPS track
With school (work) starting tomorrow for both Sandra and I, we couldn’t afford to do anything big today, but we also couldn’t spend the day sitting at home. We thus set out towards Kananaskis with a few objectives in mind, eventually settling on what we knew would be an easy and mostly boring hike to the former Hummingbird Plume Fire Lookout.
Hummingbird Plume Lookout is located on a forested bump to the north of Nakiska ski resort and to the east of Skogan Pass. This area is one enormous network of criss-crossing ski and hiking trails and old and new roads, and there are at least two places at which you can begin a hike to the lookout. We opted to start a bit lower and further away than we could have so that we could also visit Troll Falls. I hoped this short detour would make the hike a bit more interesting.
We parked in the huge Stoney Trail parking lot and started hiking around 8:30 am. The trail, and all other trails in this area, are truck-width and very well maintained and hiking was super easy. It’s more of a walk than a hike, actually. Its proximity to Calgary, however, means it’s a bit of a mecca for douchebags, unfortunately, and we passed seven bags of dog shit on the trail to Troll Falls and encountered many inconsiderate trail hogs on the way back. [As a side note, the fact that we were counting bags of dog shit is a bit indicative of how interesting the trail is.]
Thankfully we’d started early enough that Troll Falls was deserted when we arrived and I was able to explore the area around the falls a bit. The falls were nice today and would presumably be much better in a non-drought year.
After our visit to the falls we backtracked a few hundred meters, then started up a ski trail/road heading for Hummingbird Plume Lookout. The ascent was steady and gradual and we were able to keep a very good pace, and the many intersections we passed along the way all had a map that made navigation easy.
We reached the dilapidated lookout building, currently in the middle of viewless forest, after just 1 h 45 min of hiking. To get an actual view we continued a very short distance past the lookout on obvious trail to a rocky overlook of the Kananaskis valley, then returned to a nice picnic table by the lookout building to have a very early lunch. After lunch I spent a few minutes exploring the old building. Built in the 1930’s, its most interesting feature are some initials and dates carved into its walls by people from internment camps in the Kananaskis valley during WWII. Unfortunately, the walls have also been defaced by graffiti over the intervening decades, and many wall boards have been broken off and taken, presumably those with the history carved into them. Perhaps this is what douchebags did before they could put poop in bags to leave on the trail?
On the way back we took a slightly different route signed as the “Highline Trail”. Like the rest of the trail it offered no view whatsoever, but it was worth exploring for the sake of exploring. This trail connected up with the one we’d followed on the ascent well above Troll Falls, and up to this point we hadn’t met a single person all day, but from the turnoff for the falls back to the car the trail was as crowded as those at Lake Louise. The short hike to Troll Falls is very popular indeed!
I’d been saving this hike for a rainy fall day, but it had just enough variety and was long enough that it didn’t feel like too lame of objective for today. It was certainly better than sitting at home, as hiking always is!