Friday, July 24, 2020

Mockingbird Lookout - Family Hiking in Kananaskis

The Mockingbird Lookout is an active fire lookout with a house perched at the top. This means you'll be rewarded with a great 360 view in all directions and you can expect easy hiking on the same road that the lookout attendant drives to reach his house.

The Mockingbird Fire Lookout in Kananaskis

Why you Need to add the Mockingbird Lookout to your Family Hiking List

  1. You only gain 355 metres of height on this hike, making it a great option for young children or for the whole family to enjoy together.

  2. Hiking to a fire lookout gives you a "summit" type experience and most children will feel like they've reached the top of a mountain.

  3. The hiking is easy on a wide gradual road the whole way to the lookout. It's also perfect for physical distancing (plenty of room for passing other groups.)

  4. The lookout is located in the Ghost Public Land Use Zone, a lesser visited area of Kananaskis. As long as you stay away from the random camping areas and leave your ATVs at home, hikers can expect a greater degree of solitude on hiking trails in this area than you would in other areas of Kananaskis. 

  5. This is a great opportunity to explore a new area of Kananaskis. Leave the hikes along Highway 40 for another day and enjoy checking out a more remote corner of Kananaskis.
Great views from the Mockingbird Lookout

Stats for the Hike

Distance: 5.8 km return

Height gain: 350 metres

Time it took us to complete the hike: Approximately 3.5 hours including a stop for lunch at the top.

Rating: It is an easy trail.

Best Guide Book: Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Volume 3, Gillean Daffern - Amazon affiliate link

All Trails Link - Mockingbird Lookout

Mockingbird Lookout, Kananaskis 

Trailhead Information for the Mockingbird Lookout

I suggest downloading the All Trails route for this one to help with finding the trailhead. You'll have to purchase the premium version of the app to do this, but I'm finding it very useful these days as we go in search of more remote (less crowded) hikes.

Without the app, here are my best directions to find the trailhead:

  • From Calgary, take the Highway 1A past Cochrane until you come to Highway 40 North. Turn right here.

  • Drive through Waiprous Village and keep going.

  • Turn left on Waiprous Valley Road (Google maps can help you here)

  • Drive past Camp Mockingbird (which shows up on Google maps and is reached in approximately an hour of driving from Cochrane)

  • Continue past Camp Mockingbird following signs for Camp Chamisall. Turn right just before the final stretch to the camp, staying on Waiprous Valley Road. Here's the google map route from Cochrane to Camp Chamisall.

  • Once you've made that final right hand turn, start watching for the fire lookout road on your right hand side. There should be other vehicles at the trailhead. 

If you don't want to download the All Trails route before you go, I suggest at least looking at the route before you leave cell coverage and you'll have a good idea of where you're going

Total driving time will be just over an hour from Cochrane and know that you'll be on gravel roads. Have a spare tire, know how to change a flat (trust me on this one,) and be prepared for some rough driving at the end once you turn onto Waiprous Valley Road. It's doable in a car if you drive slow.

Following the easy road up to the fire lookout

Hiking to the Mockingbird Fire Lookout Site 

There's not much to say here other than to follow the wide road all the way to the lookout. You'll know you're getting close when you see signs reminding people that somebody works/lives there and that you should not be firing guns.

Then you'll see the actual lookout sign and the short trail up to the top.

Note that the lookout attendant has a dog and he's often off leash (just letting you know in case you have children scared of dogs.) It's a lovely dog, but he could be scary to young children if they aren't prepared to have a dog running down to greet them on the trail.

Since this is an active fire lookout, please respect the lookout space. The outhouse is for private use only and you should ask permission to approach the house or the helicopter pad. There is a picnic table that is open for the public to use.

The attendant up there is very friendly and will often come out to chat with hikers.

Reaching the official lookout sign

Recommended Reading 

First Summits for Families in the Canadian Rockies - a complete guide from easy lookouts and viewpoints to intermediate challenging scrambles. I update this guide annually. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for posting this hike! We did it today with my 4 year old and 8 year old. It was a perfect day and the perfect hike for them. Beautiful view at the top and easy to get to from Olds, AB.