If you live in Bragg Creek, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking. Fortunately for those of us who live in Calgary, All of the starting points for the Bragg Creek walks described below are less than an hour’s drive away. All starting points can be reached via Highway 66. The Fullerton Loop and Sugar Mama walks are the first to be reached, just 15 kilometers southwest of Bragg Creek.
These seven Bragg Creek hikes are beautiful and offer a mix of tightrope walks and mountains. But for many, they will not replace a trip to Banff National Park or the hikes off Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country. They are still unmatched, especially from the Calgary area. Many are family friendly. All of them are dog-friendly (on a leash) and you can tee off in just half a day.
If you are planning one of these hikes at the beginning of the season, take ice cream sundae, as there is probably still snow at height. A pair of poles and additional clothing would also be wise. Mid-May 2020 a pair of snowshoes would actually be the best way to climb the mountain, as there is light, thigh-deep snow right at the starting point.
Don’t forget your credit card to get refreshment after the hike. There are several cafes in Bragg Creek This is perfect for gas stops (after kissing goodbye COVID-19), with the cinnamon spoon being the most visible of the freeway. There are also a few gas stations in the city.
Before you start hiking, read The 10 hiking utensils that everyone should carry. I haven’t seen a bear on any of these hikes, but I would still recommend taking a can of bear spray with you.
The Fullerton circular walk
The Fullerton Loop hike is the perfect easy, family-friendly half-day hike. I like it all year round, except in the summer when I personally prefer to be high in the mountains.
You experience over its 6.7 kilometers length a combination of hilly valley paths and some wonderful ridges. There are several ways to extend the hike to a full-day excursion by combining it with trails that start in the West Bragg Creek day use area.
The hike to the Fullerton Loop begins at Bill Allen’s parking lot, which is signposted from the freeway.
Read: The Fullerton circular walk in Kananaskis country
Moose Mountain – one of the best views of the Bragg Creek hikes
For a good workout and some of the best views in the area, do the 7.3 kilometer easy hike up Moose Mountain. The difference in altitude is a moderate 473 meters (1552 feet), which makes this hike a great first season. Ideally you want to do this after the gravel road to the starting point has been opened – usually in mid-May. Depending on the speed, wait 3.5 to 5 hours for the return hike.
Moose Mountain tops 2,437 meters (7,995 feet) with a 90 year old fire watchtower that marks the summit. (Respect the privacy of the people up here as this was a working lookout.) I heard rumors last year that you couldn’t walk the last few meters – but don’t let that put you off.
To get to the starting point, drive past the Paddy’s Flats Campground. When you come from Bragg Creek, turn right onto Moose Mountain Fire Road. Follow him to the parking lot.
Read: The Moose Mountain Hike in Kananaskis Country, AB
Prairie Mountain is my favorite hike from late autumn to early spring. I have never hiked it in summer because I know I can do it in deep winter.
The hike starts across the Elbow Falls from the winter gates. It rises steeply until you jump out of the trees and then moderates upwards. In total, the route climbs to 726 meters in just 3.8 kilometers. I think it’s the middle part through the trees that leaves you breathless. Once you’re out of the trees, you’ll be rewarded with views that stretch from downtown Calgary to Moose Mountain and more.
Wait 2.5 to 4 hours to complete the return hike. Ice and sticks in the snowy months (October – early May) make the difference, especially on the knee-knock descent.
Read: The year round Prairie Mountain hike near Bragg Creek
The Nihahi Ridge hike
The Nihahi Ridge hike offers some great views, beautiful meadow hikes, and some climbing frames that can get a little airy if you go all the way up. It is a round trip of approximately 10.2 kilometers with a modest difference in altitude of 412 meters.
The trail is difficult to find at first, as there is no signage until you get through the Little Elbow Campground, which is reached via a fork at the end of Highway 66. About a kilometer after the barricade at the end of the campsite is a sign of the Nihahi Ridge, which points into the forest. From there it is mostly easy to follow – at least until you get to a maze of paths along the ridge. I usually stick to the most used ones. Follow the base of the crest until you find an easy way to climb the crest.
The view from the ridge is great, although the last time we didn’t climb all the way up. Two hot, thirsty dogs continued to veto.
It only took us 90 minutes to return to the parking lot – and a cold river to cool us off.
Read: The Nihahi Ridge hike in Kananaskis Land
The Forgetmenot Ridge hike
The difficult part of the hike is not the initial steep climb, but finding the starting point. It took a lot of false starts before my friend and I were sure that we were going in the right direction. When we were on the Wildhorse Trail, I knew we were on the way.
It’s a very steep start on the Forgetmenot Ridge hike, but once you’ve cleared the trees and walked out on a ridge, the views begin to unfold. Follow the obvious, somewhat less steep path through trees mixed with some grass. There are steep side roads to Forgetmenot Ridge, but you can also continue along a well-trodden path to a pile of stones just below the ridge at some distance.
You have several options from the pile of stones on the ridge. Go left (north) and follow the crest up to a huge pile of stones (and windbreak) overlooking the Elbow River at 2,240 meters. This is the obvious turning point. Alternatively, you can continue south on Forgetmenot Ridge to Forgetmenot Mountain, a one-way street approximately 3.5 kilometers.
Once you find the way, the round trip takes about five hours. The vertical gain is approximately 700 meters over a one-way distance of approximately 10 kilometers.
(Read the blog below for detailed instructions on how to find your starting point.)
Read: The fabulous forget-me-not tightrope walk
The Powderface Ridge hike – one of the steep Bragg Creek hikes
The Powderface Ridge hike feels like Prairie Mountain at first. In the first two kilometers you climb 400 meters. As soon as you reach the meadows, the path becomes more moderate, although it is still around 700 meters to reach the Col. From the Col, turn right to reach the Canadian flag and cairn – along with great views of Mount Glasgow, Cornwall, Outlaw, and Banded Peaks.
There are several additional options to handle the full Powderface Ridge. However, I would recommend a map and prior planning as you may have to hitchhike or arrange an auto shuttle. (For a better description, see the blog below.)
The regular starting point is at the intersection of Powderface Trail Road at the end of Highway 66, just before you turn off to Little Elbow Campground
Read: The Powderface Ridge hike near Bragg Creek
Sugar Moma – Sugar Daddy hike
The Sugar Mama – Sugar Daddy hike is part of a loop that has the same start as the Fullerton Trail in the Allen Bill car park. There is a lot to recommend as a low season or even as a winter hike that provides training because of its length. You can also bike it.
The entire loop is almost 14 kilometers long. with a difference in altitude of 345 meters. It consists of short sections of six trails – the Elbow, Snagmore, Strange Brew and Bobcat trails, as well as 4.0 kilometers on the Sugar Daddy Trail and 3.3 kilometers on the Sugar Mama Trail.
Read: The Sugar Moma – Sugar Daddy Hike near Bragg Creek
The Cox Hill hike
Although Cox Hill isn’t one of the real Bragg Creek hikes because it’s not on Highway 66, I wanted to record it because you can get there from the Powderface Trail.
Most people reach this hike from Trans-Canada via the Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68). It becomes a dusty, unpaved road and eventually the Powderface Trail, which eventually connects to Highway 66. The starting point for Cox Hill is on the left when you come off the Trans-Canada Highway and is signposted.
The Cox Hill Hike is a 12.4 kilometer loop tour with a difference in altitude of 914 meters. You will reach the highest point on the Trans-Canada Trail.
The path is easy to follow, although I would recommend reading my blog post on it to get precise details on how to start the path. In summer there are some nice sections full of wild flowers. And when you get to the top there are beautiful slabs of rock where you can laze around and enjoy a picnic with a view.
This hike is not that well known, so you probably won’t see a lot of people. Above you can enjoy a great view of Moose Mountain. When you feel energetic Drive from the summit another 3 kilometers to the Jumpingpound Ridge Trail.
Read: The Cox Hill hike in Kananaskis Land
Which of these Bragg Creek hikes would you most like to do?
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