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Posts categorized “Hiking/Trekking Canadian Rockies”.

Premier Canadian Rockies trails

Craig and I recently hiked a few of our favourite trails in the Canadian Rockies. If you haven’t done them, do your best to make it happen.

  1. Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis Country.  It’s Trip 29 in Where Locals Hike in the CDN Rockies. Drive Highway 40 south to Highwood Pass. You gain about 550 m over 9.3 km one way. If you don’t want to hitchhike to set up your vehicle at the end of the hike, then hike out to the summit of the ridge. Return the same way.
  2. The Iceline. It’s Trip 14 in Don’t Waste Your Time in the CDN Rockies. If you do the full loop, dropping into Little Yoho Valley, then ascending the Whaleback, you’ll gain 717 meters over 19 km.
  3. Mist Ridge in southern K-Country. It’s also described in Where Locals Hike in the CDN Rockies. You’ll gain 1200 meters, over 23 km. Or just ascend to the first high summit, and return the same way. The week of July 17, the smoke from BC forest fires was so thick that we didn’t want to hike in the parks. But we had clear skies way down here. This trail is also available early summer and into late fall.

Before you plan your hikes the rest of this summer, study this excellent website to check where the smoke from B.C. wildfires is blowing:  http://firesmoke.ca/forecasts/viewer/run/ops/BSC-CA-01/current/

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Colorado Rockies vs Canadian Rockies

Click on photo to enlarge, click again to enlarge fully.

Prior to immigrating to Canada and living next to the Canadian Rockies, our home for several years was Grand Junction, Colorado. Back then, we were enamoured with the Colorado Rockies, particularly the San Juan Range. Every weekend we bolted for the mountains—hiking in summer, skiing in winter. Mentally, we resided in Durango, Ouray, Silverton, Telluride, Aspen, and Crested Butte as much as we did Grand Junction. It was a satisfying and often exciting time for us. But…

While twice visiting the Canadian Rockies, we saw that the range is grander, sharper, and much more alluring. We were awed by the glaciers, intimidated by the grizzlies, and enthralled by the vastness. This, we realized, was wilderness. Whereas the Colorado Rockies suddenly seemed underwhelming: softer, gentler, more rounded, less peaky. They also felt uncomfortably civilized: riddled with roads, beset by 4WDs, ATVs, and motorcycles, and far more crowded. After moving to Canada, we felt no desire to return to Colorado. And we didn’t. For 28 years. Until last week.

We’ve recently been working in southern Utah: revising our guidebook titled “Hiking from Here to WOW: Utah Canyon Country,” and guiding hikers in Grand Staircase—Escalante National Monument. When smoke from a nearby, out-of-control wildfire wafted our way just as our workload eased, we thought: “Durango’s only a five-hour drive. Let’s go see how high the snowpack in the Rockies will let us hike.”

We drove through Moab and continued south: past the La Sals, Canyonlands, and Mesa Verde. Then we turned north into the La Platas—an outlier massif of the Rockies, separated from the main range by the Animas Valley. We soon found ourselves in a dusty parade. Every kind of motorized off-road vehicle you can imagine was clawing its way up to the crest. And every one of those vehicles seemed to be stuffed full of people who—judging by their corpulence—had no intention of walking once they topped out.

When we could no longer drive faster than we could hike, we parked and re-entered the parade on foot. Every vehicle ascending past us soon descended past us. Most didn’t spend more than 15 minutes admiring the view at road’s end. 

Where the motorheads turned around, we continued on the Colorado Divide Trail (CDT), through alternating patches of snow and mud, until we reached the crest of the La Platas, where the CDT rolls along through the alpine zone near 12,000 feet. The views were constant and impressive. The striding was enjoyable now that we were no longer menaced by incessant traffic. But the scenery here moved us far less than it does from ridge crest trails in the Canadian Rockies.

Yes, we proceeded into the heart of the main range. But the Canadian Rockies had raised the bar too high. The Colorado Rockies left us emotionally unmoved. And the ORV onslaught reminded us how fortunate we are up north to be ORV-free in the Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks.

Hoping for better, we studied our topo maps. But it was obvious we’d be hiking roads as much or more than we would trails. We’d be ascending for hours below treeline, which in the San Juans is approximately 11,500 feet. Whereas in the Canadian Rockies, treeline is generally at 7,700 feet. And our scenic reward would be… ? Nothing like the soaring, serrated summits and crenellated cliffs that distinguish the Canadian Rockies.

Sapped of motivation, we returned to Utah canyon country. In a couple weeks, we’ll be on our way back to the Canadian Rockies. We suggest you follow us. If you’ve not yet hiked in our home range, you’re in for a life-list experience.

From paved Trans-Canada 1 Highway, and the Icefields Parkway Highway 93, Canadian Rockies trails are easy to access. You drive less, hike more, and you don’t have to punish your vehicle as is often necessary in Colorado. Come on up in your 2WD car. All you need is your hiking gear, and our book: Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies—the Opinionated Hiking Guide. It’s the most-highly evolved hiking guidebook you’ve ever seen. It’ll ensure you make the absolute most of your precious vacation time. Even before you actually use it, you’ll find the writing and photography inspiring. Watch a video about it here:


And check out these reviews:




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Canadian Rockies Guide Books

Vacation time is like cash. It’s easily misspent. But if you’re coming to hike in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, there’s a sure way to invest your precious time for the greatest possible return. Get the Canadian Rockies guide book “Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide.” It’s your guarantee that you’ll hike only the most scenically rewarding trails.

Our Canadian Rockies guide book is for hikers who don’t have forever. It rates 145 hikes “Premier,” “Outstanding,” “Worthwhile,” or “Don’t Do.” Essentially, it puts all these trails on trial, then provides you with insightful verdicts for each one. The authors’ opinionated descriptions illuminate the highlights of every trip, allowing you to quickly visualize the experience before you commit to it. As a result, it’s quick and easy for you to choose the right trail for your interests, ability and mood.

Guidebooks are not a commodity. Some are bad. A few are good. This one is great. The authors have devoted themselves to hiking the Canadian Rockies year after year after year. And every few years, they re-invented their already unique book, making it a more complete and efficient resource, rewriting and reformatting it to be more inspiring and beautiful, and filling it with the most current and accurate details. The all-new 7th edition of “Don’t Waste Your Time In The Canadian Rockies” is now ultralight gear. It’s the first hiking guidebook actually designed for adventure, not just the armchair.

For 25 years, hikers have relied on the discerning opinions and insightful facts provided by the Copeland’s Canadian Rockies guide book to make the most of their vacation time. You should, too.

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The all-new Ultralight Gear 7th edition of “Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, the Opinionated Hiking Guide”

Hiking Guidebooks have always been hiking gear. They just haven’t fulfilled their mandate until now. Play video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dv3PyKzZ1rU

The Canadian Rockies

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The Canadian Rockies’ Supreme Crest Walk near Calgary: Pocaterra Ridge

IF this current blast of cold and snow in the Canadian Rockies is merely an early warning from the Weather Gods, IF blue skies, sunshine and moderate temperatures return, and IF you can arrange a day off with a couple friends and two vehicles, we urge you to hike Pocaterra Ridge (Trip 30, page 164, Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies) within the next few weeks. Otherwise, give it high priority on your hikes-to-do-next-summer list. Because Pocaterra is the supreme crest walk in Kananaskis Country.

While re-hiking as many Kananaskis Country trails as possible (checking for flood damage), we hit Pocaterra on a perfect day. Midway along, we agreed this is one hike we’ll eagerly repeat every year. As for flood damage: none here. Sure, we noticed a few places where the effects of voluminous, swift water were evident, but the flood left no impact on Pocaterra Ridge that hikers need be aware of. Even the final, short, bushy thrash between the north end of the ridge and the highway is much the same as it’s long been: the route remains evident.

Why the need for two vehicles? Because the ideal way to hike Pocaterra Ridge is one way: south to north. Pre-arrange a shuttle, and the trip ends when the hiking ends. If you’re willing to hitchhike, you can do it with one vehicle. Bear in mind, hitching is much easier on weekends, when more people are hiking in K-Country and driving over Highwood Pass. Our preference is to hitch in the morning, so our vehicle is waiting for us at day’s end.

This time we felt lucky, came with only one vehicle, and didn’t even consider hitching in the morning. Midway along the ridge, we met two women hiking one-way, in the opposite direction. We chatted, recognized our mutual need, and offered to exchange keys. After dismounting the ridge, we delivered their car to the other trailhead and picked up ours. Challenge overcome. And the day’s perfection was burnished by an act of mutual trust between mountain folk.

Walk on!

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Hiking and camping in the wilderness can be dangerous. Experience and preparation reduce risk but will never eliminate it.

Information published in a book or on a website—regardless how authoritative—is not a substitute for common sense or sound judgment. Your safety is your responsibility. The unique details of your specific situation and the decisions you make at that time will determine the outcome.

When hiking, threats to your wellbeing are unpredictable; you must always be aware. In the backcountry, risk is subjective; you must gauge it for yourself. Away from civilization, small mistakes can have severe consequences; you must vigilantly prevent injury and avoid becoming disoriented.

Never hike alone. Before setting out, check the weather forecast and current trail conditions; adjust your plans accordingly. Always carry a map and compass, a first-aid kit, extra clothing, a personal locator beacon, plus enough food and water to survive an emergency.

If you doubt your ability to negotiate rough terrain, respond to wild animals, or handle sudden, extreme weather changes, hike only in a group led by a competent, licensed guide.

The authors and the publisher disclaim liability for any loss or injury incurred by anyone using information published on this website or in the books presented on this website.