Thursday, November 21, 2013

Early Winter Snowshoeing at Highwood Pass

Highwood Pass is located on the highest paved road in Canada and offers incredible adventures between June and November each year.  Every season offers new sights and experiences. To reach Highwood Pass, take Highway 40, which loops through the heart of the Kananaskis Country park system. You’ll cross over the pass as you drive through Peter Lougheed Provincial Park heading south towards the town of Longview on the Cowboy Trail. Trails found on both sides of the pass present opportunities for everything from backcountry camping to hiking or even early winter snowshoeing. In the spring, cyclists flock to the area for a chance to bike the highway before it opens to traffic mid June.

Snowshoeing on Elbow Lake

Winter comes early to this part of Kananaskis. By late November you can pull out your snowshoes and make your way up to either Ptarmigan Cirque or Elbow Lake to discover a stunning winter wonderland.  Because Ptarmigan Cirque often has early season avalanche hazards, families seeking a safer trip will want to visit Elbow Lake.  The lake is also popular with backcountry skiers. A circuit of the lake can be made on either snowshoes or skis once you arrive.  Visiting Highwood Pass before the road closes on December 1st is an experience that should definitely go on all Rocky Mountain bucket lists.

Snowshoeing with Kids on the Elbow Lake Trail

To read the rest of this story on hiking, backpacking, and cycling at Highwood Pass please follow this link to the full published story:  From Flowers to Snow:  Four Seasons of Adventure at Highwood Pass  on the Experience the Mountain Parks website. 

This is Highwood Pass in September! (snow comes early!!)

Our family makes an annual pilgrimage to Elbow Lake the last weekend of November and we're planning an adults only trip to Ptarmigan Cirque this weekend as well.  There is no area in Kananaskis that I'd rather snowshoe, and it's special to get out as early as late November to often find waist deep snow already.  If you plan to bring children, you can often bring sleds, Chariots with ski attachments or ski pulks as long as the trail has been well packed down up to the lake.  Note that some years however, if the trail has not been packed down, you would have a very difficult time pulling any kind of sled.  Fortunately, you won't have to go far to find out if you'll be breaking trail and you could always go back to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to snowshoe there.  For a complete map of all official snowshoe trails in Kananaskis, print out a copy of this Kananaskis snowshoe trails map.  You can also follow this link to read my guidebook review for A Beginner's Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies.  (great Christmas present)

Snowshoeing at Elbow Lake when our son was just a toddler

To read about last year's family snowshoe trip to Elbow Lake and see the photos, follow this link to Family Snowshoeing Adventures - Elbow Lake

Hope to see you on the trails!


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