- See more at: http://www.jetseotools.com/free-meta-tag-generator/output#sthash.UfVEJ6sq.dpuf Prarie Mountain Hike - Knitting is the new Nintendo

Prarie Mountain Hike

Summit view panorama
This last weekend a friend and I went on a hike in Kananaskis. It's called Prairie Mountain. She'd done it several years ago and when I looked it up online I wasn't so sure I could do it after reading how one reviewer ranked it in the 'difficult' category of hikes, but she was sure I could and so off we went! And we did complete the hike and it wasn't so bad. Not that it was easy by any means, but I am more capable than I thought :)

Prairie Mountain
Difficulty: moderate*
Round trip: 7.6 km
Hiking Time: 2.5-5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 726 m
FitBit: 13,000 steps and 230 floors
View from the summit of Prairie Mountain
The trail begins very close to the Elbow Falls Parking lot so it's a nice short drive from Calgary. The hike itself is not very long, only about 3.8km one way, but the majority is on an incline because in that distance we climbed about 726m (or according to Fitbit 230 flights of stairs). To say there are switchbacks would be deceiving, however do not be discouraged if you are thinking of trying it, because at a steady pace and with a few breaks we still made it up in 2 hours. The initial part of the ascent is in the trees, but there are a few places where the treeline opens up and the views are amazing!
Hiking straight up through the forest.
It was overcast, but the views part way up were worth it to continue.
We felt like it would be fitting to see sheep up here on the bare land.
Nearing the top and when the treeline breaks the grade is not as steep and the scenery makes for a good incentive! Unfortunately for us the sky to the east was completely whited out where otherwise we might have been able to see Calgary, but the west was mostly clear and it was magnificent!

The final ascent!
Above the trees and apparently the clouds too! Sadly not much view to that side.
Eerie and beautiful
You'll know you've reached the top when you are congratulated by our patriotic flag :)

After a short lunch break the rain clouds moved in on us and it began to sprinkle so we began our descent. The precipitation on the rocks made it slippery, however with due caution it still only took us 1 hour to make our climb down.

Would I do it again, yes! Do you think you can do it? If you are in reasonable health and have the determination to, I'm sure you could! I was pleasantly surprised at the different ages of hikers we saw out there. In particular there were two older ladies, perhaps in their 60s, and they were making a go of it so I knew if they could do it, I could do it! If you do not have the stamina of hikers who go out every weekend, it just means you take it a bit slower, like me. Do note that poles would be highly recommended for those with knee issues, or just for extra support if you feel you might need it. The day after I definitely felt that my calf muscles got a work out, but a good stretch before and after would help that.

Don't forget to stop and admire what's below your feet too!

Apparently this is a hike that's good to do all year round so perhaps next time I'll have to try it in the winter!

Finding the trailhead
I found our after we actually didn't hike from the official trailhead because we parked in the Elbow Falls lot, crossed the road and went straight up. There were about 3 forks and we just guessed them right! If I remember it was right, left right, but if you don't trust my memory you can follow the directions of this hiker:

"The trailhead is across the highway from Elbow Falls, just before the winter gates. There is a parking lot that holds about 15 cars on the south side of the highway, just past the entrance to the Elbow Falls parking lot. It’s free. To get on the trail, cross the highway, cross Prairie Creek and look for the trail going up – just up on the left in the bottom photo. The Prairie Mountain trail climbs immediately. There is another trail that follows the Elbow River Valley, paralleling Highway 66. You do not want that one. There are no trail signs once you’ve begun your climb." Click here for her site.

Happy hiking :)

*The difficulty is relative of course, but I'm comparing it to a similar hike I did last year and matched the ranking of it in the book I have (because it's not in the book).



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