Elevation Gain: 700m
Summer, Spring, Fall, Winter
GREAT HIKE! All season!!!
We did this hike as the loop, but it can be done and an in & out if you want to shorten the distance.
If your looking to do the hike as the loop (the full 17km) you will begin by crossing the barrier lake dam going up a short section until you hit a fork in the trail than begin the trail by heading left so you are completing the loop clockwise. From here you will go about 5km on flat terrain until you reach your second map sign. You’ll take a right and start heading up! Elevation if pretty mild considering the distance, so its a pretty easy trek! You’ll reach a couple bridges, one that crosses a pretty waterfall (frozen in the winter, but have seen pictures in the summer!). This hike is long, and a couple times we debated if we were on the right trail, but its so well marked it would be hard to be on the wrong one!!
Once reaching the last stint, you will come up the back side of the ridge offering amazing views down the valley and over barrier lake! Its absolutely amazing! The feeling of walking for 11km and then heading straight up into the clouds makes the trek totally worth it!!!
This hike is great for beginners and dogs, as theres minimal scrambles and exposure. But long. If your looking for a shorter hike, you can head RIGHT at the fork in the trail, and go up to Prairie View Lookout, than walk less than a km, up to barrier lookout. This section is the most challenging part of the trail, still mild, but a good intro for beginners. If your still feeling ambitious – head up to the fire lookout from Barrier lookout for 360 views over the foothills/Kananaskis valley! Trail is very well marked, and popular, someone will be there to point you on your way if your feeling lost!
We did this hike early March, with some gaiters and water proof hiking boots, as the trail is pretty packed down, the only time snowshoes would have came in handy is a couple little sections heading up the backside. But honestly they probably would have just been extra weight.
Overall, this hike was awesome. Perfect way to spend the day. I will definitely do this again. As its not always about conquering the difficult terrain or doing a new summit each time. Its about getting outside, and taking in that crisp mountain air!
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