Monday, July 22, 2019

Mount Kidd Lookout - Family Hiking in Kananaskis

I'd had this hike on my list for years after seeing some pretty photos of the lookout site. Once a fire lookout, the house has been removed, but the platform still remains high on the northeast shoulder of Mount Kidd.

The Mount Kidd Lookout makes you feel as if you've traveled to the Alps!

Why You Need to Add the Mt. Kidd Lookout Hike to your List 

  1. The lookout site is incredibly beautiful!! You might even think you've entered a magical portal to the Swiss Alps.

  2. Chances of having the lookout site to yourself are high. This is not a popular hike, despite its beauty, and so you won't be sharing the trail with crowds or hordes of tourists. This is definitely a "locals secret."

  3. The hike is short and sweet. It took us 6 hours round trip, but that's because we spent a good hour on top. At a good pace you could complete the trip in as little as 4 hours.

  4. The trailhead starts from Kananaskis Village, reached in an hour or less from NW Calgary.

  5. The trail is steep, but never technical, never overly difficult, and allows you to have a "summit experience" without any hands on scrambling.
Site of the former Mount Kidd Fire Lookout above Kananaskis Village

Stats for the Hike

Distance: 8.9 km return 

Height gain: 753 metres 

Time it took us to complete the hike: 6 hours round trip with a gaggle of kids ages 6-10.

Rating: Technically it is an easy trail. The All Trails website rates it as difficult, but that would be for steepness and effort exerted. There is also some route finding required and you are not on an official trail.

Best Guide Book: Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 1, Gillean Daffern - Amazon affiliate link

All Trails Link - Mt. Kidd Lookout Hike 

Mount Kidd Lookout Hike, Kananaskis 

Trailhead Information and Finding the Trail for the Mt. Kidd Lookout Hike 

The trailhead for this one is Kananaskis Village off Highway 40. (Google maps link.) And it's helpful if you have some experience with the cross-country ski trails here because you start off by hiking along the Kovach Ski Trail. 
Hiking along the wide Kovach Ski Trail 

I'm a huge fan of Trail Forks, so if you have this app on your phone, you'll easily be able to get on the Kovach Trail (Trail Forks Link)

Once you're on the Kovach Trail, you'll hike until you come to the Aspen junction (another ski trail.) There will be a map here so you'll know you're on the right track.

Carry on along the Kovach Trail, slowly climbing through boggy wet grass and mud, until you come to a faint trail on your left marked with pink and orange flagging. This is it. And as far as unofficial trails go, it's actually pretty easy to follow. You should not get lost once on this trail. 

If you're really concerned about getting lost, put the All Trails app on your phone and just follow the map all the way up to the top of the lookout site (which is what we were doing.) - All Trails Link

Our boys on the Kovach Trail 

Hiking to the Mt. Kidd Lookout Site 

Once you get on the narrow trail up to the lookout site, it's honestly hard to get lost. It's a good trail, it's been well packed down, and it was very easy to follow.

The trail was very dense at times

I will warn you though that it is VERY steep, and relentlessly so. You'll especially feel it on the way down. I've done a lot of steep hiking, but this trail definitely felt steeper than most trails I've been on recently.

The trail did not waste time with cute switchbacks! Straight up it went

Fortunately, you'll be rewarded with good views for much of the hike and so it's easy to stop and take frequent rest breaks.

We were rewarded with good views quite soon in our hike 

I recommend bringing bear spray on this hike because there are times when you'll be hiking through dense plants and it would be hard to spot a bear up ahead. Make lots of noise and travel in a group. There was no chance of us seeing a bear with the noise our group of kids was making.

Ever climbing up to the lookout site 

I love the next photo because it shows the Village way down below us, and it shows how steep the slope was that we were on.

Hiking up to the Mt. Kidd Lookout Site with Kananaskis Village below us 

Hanging out at the Lookout- The Highlight of the Trip! 

Once we'd climbed up to the platform, we chilled, ate lunch, rested, and explored the grassy hillside, the kids running around like little mountain goats.

Very happy to arrive at the lookout site!
Running around the Mount Kidd Lookout Site like little mountain goats
Site of the Historic Mt. Kidd Fire Lookout 

The Hike Back Down to the Village 

If we thought the hike up was steep, the hike down felt even steeper. I highly recommend poles for this one!!

A brief traverse where the trail leveled out for a break

We returned to the village in 6 hours round trip after spending a good hour at the top. At a steadier pace we could have done the trip in 5 hours for sure. Given how beautiful it is at the lookout site though, you'll want to spend some time up there to enjoy the reward you worked so hard for.

Hiking back down the Kovach Trail at the end 

Recommended Reading 

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