I returned to Kananaskis last weekend to do a spot of biking with some of the guys I grew up with and have biked with for years. Ryan mentioned back in early June he wanted to head out to go biking in the mountains and really spearheaded the idea. Braden and Vic were able to coordinate and make the trip with us.
We planned to camp at the Canyon Campground which is right near the lower lake and use that as a starting point to bike from. Ryan called ahead but was unable to book a site for some reason but given that it was the last weekend of the Calgary Stampede we both figured there wouldn’t be too much of a problem finding a place to put a tent. We rolled into camp about 11:30 pm which apparently is to late. A small British man drove up on a golf cart and was looking us up and down like we were shit disturbers ready to raise Hell and fire and brimstone all weekend, when all we really wanted was to set up the tent cook some hot dogs and sleep in preparation of the two rides we had planned. We ended up snagging one of the two sites left and judging by how it was set up it was perfect of our needs but very poor for the RV crowd, which was about 90% of the people there. While Ryan and I got the camp set up Vic and Braden went to get some wood for a fire, But the local curmudgeon would not sell us any wood, telling the boys that the chopping of wood would cause to much of a disturbance and wood sales stopped at 10pm. Long story short we found some logs in the woods that had been cut long ago and burnt them before turning in.
In the morning we were greeted by a beautiful blue sky and bright sunshine. and when the old man rolled around on his golf cart he was cheery and pleasant showing no inkling of his bitterness of the night before. After a great breakfast minus some forgotten eggs we set out to the information office to find a map and a trail. Part of the reason we picked Canyon was that it was very easy to find trails and there was a half dozen trailheads in our vicinity. I mentioned that when I was at Logan’s Bachelor Party a biker passed through out site and after a quick check of the map we found that the pocaterra trail would be a nice 10 km trail to ride. Pocaterra trail was nice, but mostly uphill. On the government website it said it gains about 1000 feet of altitude but its deceiving because you in the trees for most of it. There are a few short down hills and after regrouping we bombed down one two abreast. At the bottom there was a bit of a swampy section and while Braden and Vic took the left side Ryan and I took the right. the log that was put in on our side was a bit high and the holes on each side were more pronounced so Ryan ended up taking a ride over the bars and when I saw this I grabbed all the front brake I could and ended up doing a endo so high my arms were shaking and I was right at the balance point for what seemed for eternity. Unlike the last time I did this I kept the rubber side down and we continued on.
When we reached the end where it meets with a trail called whisky jack trail and lookout trail which heads up to the fire lookout. We chose to go up and we went up, and up and up, and up. It was like a non stop climb that made me want to give up. For most of the ride I was with Ryan and Braden was with victor. Our pairing was mostly due to the fact that they were riding light hard tails while Ryan and I were rocking more down hill style bikes. At some points it was frustrating because of the switchbacks. The way it seemed to work was that as soon as the guy in front of you is around one you feel like you were on your own. When we met up with Vic and Braden again Ryan and I were almost positive they had been waiting for at least a half hour, but they only made it up about 10 minutes before us. In the end this is what we were met with when we reached the lookout at 6800 feet.
After signing the guest book, taking in some the view and having a water and snack break we set off on the single track pictured in the end of the video. This quickly turned into more of a fire road and was super fast and rocky enough to make you really hold on. Braden got a pinch flat on the way down a very rocky section and after a quick pit stop we descended the remaining 200 meters to the Boulton Creek crossing. While crossing we talked to some hikers who informed us about the Hydroline trail and after another short but steep climb we reached the power lines and bombed the trail in between the power poles.
All in all the ride that was supposed to be the morning turned into a full day. In all we probably rode close to 25 kms with all the switchbacks and trails put together. Victor described it as a real “big boy ride” and he was “definitely not expecting that big of a climb”.
Those who don’t mind a lot of climbing but love steep down hills, amazing views and varied terrain should consider this one. I brought three liters of water for the trip and had maybe a pint left when we left the lookout so don’t skimp on it. I felt dehydrated with even that amount when we got back to camp, so drink water before, during and after the ride. With any ride in the mountains make sure you carry tubes, Braden had a blow out probably 8 kms from camp and pushing a bike back would really suck given the terrain. The trail to the lookout should definitely be avoided if it has been raining or if it is muddy. Some of the trails are simply to steep and pitched to ride them safely under wet conditions.
See you out there.