Perhaps one of the easiest summits in the area Pigeon Mountain is still not an overly busy place – nearby Mt Yamnuska and Heart Mountains see much more traffic. That’s good for us though since we never really care for crowds anyway. The trail up, except for the first bit, is a real delight.
The trail head is located at the oddly named Dead Man’s Flats, near the base of the old Pigeon Mountain ski hill, just south of the village. Just before he condos there is a pull off.
From the parking lot we start by following the power line access road, not a particularly nice trail visually. It dips in and out of the trees and it’s always mundane. Angling into the trees yet again, the road switch backs a couple times and from a spot marked with a cairn, you head left into the trees on lesser trail. The road you just left, always following the power lines, heads up to Skogan Pass, later dropping down to the Naksika ski hill.
Heading up now, almost immediately we break out into Pigeons Mountain’s famous meadows. At this time of year they are blanketed with flowers and are simply stunning. Quite a change from the ugly power line road we just left.
From here we follow the rolling meadows the whole way up on an easy trail. Ahead of you there are no confusing junctions, no technical bits, no challenges what so ever (well, it’s a physical workout, that’s a challenge). Once at the col you can choose to go to the south summit, or like us to the north. The later has much better views IMO.
At the top you can see down the Bow Valley heading west into Canmore, and on a good day, to Banff further beyond. To the east, past the last of the front range peaks, you can see more of the Bow Valley and the prairies extending to the horizon.
There are many well known mountains to be seen from here, include the giant Grotto Mountain just to the southwest. The huge scar on its side, from a quarry operation, is a well known landmark. To the immediate east is Mt McGillivray. Behind us (to the south) Mt Collembola and Mt Allan are large grassy summits. On the back side of the latter is the Nakiska ski hill.
To the west, the Three Sisters dominate the skyline and just to the south of it is a favourite mountain of ours Windtower. We’ve been up it but from this angle it looks all business and near impossible to climb. From the back side though it’s easy. On one side of Windtower is the huge Mt Lougheed on the left, and Rimwall on the right. Directly in front of us is the grassy summit of Wind Ridge.
The quarry scars of the Exshaw cement plant are right below you and they hard to miss. The terraced hill they are tearing apart gets smaller and smaller each time we see it and before long what was a hill will become a pit.
Just in front the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline is almost always busy with lots trains passing by. The Trans Canada highway, on the opposite of the Bow River, is even busier yet again. And noisy, and when the wind is still it’s easy to hear the traffic almost directly below us.
We return the way we came, but not before enjoying some lunch and wine about half way down. Wine, without a doubt makes a good hike better.
I highly recommend this summit. In spite of the ugly start, it’s nothing but fun and the views from the summit are quite rewarding. I’ve heard it’s possible to bushwhack directly down from the summit and intercept the old ski runs. This would make an interesting alternative.
Nearby is another summit we’ve documented, and to see a report on it, click this link…
Barrier Lake Lookout (2).
If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: September 2007
Location: Kananaskis AB, Bow Valley area.
Distance: 16km return.
Height gain from start: 1000m.
Height gain cumulative: 1000m.
Technical bits: None.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.