Monday, August 29, 2016

High Rockies Trail

Trip Date: August 2016

On a fantastic Saturday in August I finally got to experience the hype that is the High Rockies Trail in the Spray Valley area of Kananaskis. The trail is being advertised as a world-class destination trail through the heart of K-Country and after my first experience it's certainly living up to that lofty praise. As it stands right now only the first half of the 80km trail is open to users. Originating at the Goat Creek Trailhead and currently ending at Buller Pass Trailhead, the completed trail will eventually terminate at Elk Pass on the Alberta/B.C. border along the Continental Divide. When it's complete it'll be the longest continuous trail anywhere in Kananaskis and will be open hikers, mountain bikers, snowshoers, and cross-country skiers among other recreationalists. The multi-million dollar trail is being built by the Alberta TrailNet Society and is part of the Trans Canada Trail network.

A map of the northern section of the High Rockies Trail
The trail offers some great views of the Spray Lakes and surrounding peaks 
The trail is really well built even through these rocky avalanche chutes
We opted to ride a 10km section (20km roundtrip) from Driftwood Day Use Area to the Spray Lakes Day Use Area. The trail is superbly built and it's obvious the builders are avid mountain bikers because it flows gloriously through the forest above the Smith Dorrien/Spray Valley Trail (Highway 742). Despite its length numerous trail spurs allow users to attempt smaller, manageable sections instead of tackling the entire distance in one go. Don't let the name or the distance deter you from riding it. Despite it's name only a portion of the trail (thus far) is located in the alpine while the rest snakes its way through the forest and over flowing creeks. The trail has also been designed to accommodate riders of all ability levels as there are very few technical sections involved.

Jeff N. descending a section of the trail
A short climb on well-packed dirt
Spray Lakes down below
The High Rockies Trail is part of the Trans Canada Trail network
The small section we rode was not lacking scenery!
There are numerous bridges crossing the many creeks
After riding 10km it was really tough to turn around and head back. All three of us wanted to keep going and see what the rest of the trail had to offer, but we didn't have a shuttle vehicle at the other end, so we needed to make the tough call. At the end of the day it just left us wanting more and a reason to head back out to the Spray Valley to see what we missed!

On our way back to the car
We definitely didn't want to call it quits!
As I'm sure you can tell I was really impressed with my first experience on the High Rockies Trail and will definitely be riding it again, which is hopefully in the not too distant future. I really want to see the alpine section, which I'm told is closer to Mount Buller. From what I've seen online I'm sure it'll deserve its own blog post, so stay tuned!

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