Old Goat Glacier - Hike

A light hike through the woods that brings you to the base of the mountain you must befriend. It requires effort, however as you climb the views behind you only become more and more rewarding!

Round trip: 10.5 km 
Hiking Time: 3-4 hrs
Elevation Gain: 620 m 
FitBit: approx 15,000 steps and 164 flights of stairs
Location: Kananaskis
Click Map for directions from Calgary in Google Maps

Marked: No
Facilities: No
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on HWY 1 to Canmore. Get onto the Smith-Dorrien (HWY 742) on which you will pass the Canmore Nordic Centre. At that point you can reset your odometer to 0 and at approximately 13.8km from there you'll come to a road where you'll turn right to cross the dam. At the end turn left and follow the road until your odometer reads approximately 15.5km. Look for the large sign that says 'trailhead parking'. It doesn't indicate which trail, but this is it. There is room for quite a few cars here. Begin your hike at the SW corner of the lot (kitty-corner to where you drove in from). 

The first half of the hike is beautiful and easy as you traverse through the forest with the creek on your left. It may take about 45 min at an easy pace. You arrive at a clearing which is an avalanche run-out with so many rocks, lots and lots of rocks! Then the reason why the trip warrants a strenuous rating becomes apparent quite quickly.
Enjoy the view of a tall but narrow waterfall ahead (W), but you now need to turn left (S) where among the many rocks you will see small cairns (piles of rocks) showing you the way. You may be deceived into thinking you need to head towards the waterfall if there are people up there, but that is not your trail. Rather, look for the massive boulders on the bare mountain side, you may see ants sized people along the path...yes that is where you are to go!
The avalanche run out
Do not be discouraged because as I have said before, if I can do it, you can do it! So follow the cairns a little ways, you'll come to a boot-beaten path through the trees and come out at the base of the hill. Begin your ascent on the path which is discernible amidst the rocks. One writer describes this path as "surprisingly merciful", but I might disagree and say what is surprising is the amazing view behind you that only grows better as you climb and what is merciful is the chance to stop and snap pictures in order to give your body a rest haha! If you have poles, this spot is where you will want to use them.
Your route is ahead to the right of the big boulders. See the little carins at the bottom of the picture?
Part way up you'll find some respite from the sun as you continue the ascent among the trees again, which means you're getting close! It was at this point where a lady that had been trailing us from the base of the waterfall caught up. Unbelievable! I had the feeling it was like the scene in Princess Bride where Westly is gaining on the Andre the Giant when climbing the rope on the Cliffs of Insanity. Every time we took note of where she was, she was closer than before, it was inconceivable! Finally, when she did in fact catch up, in a brief conversation she indicated this was her first hike of the season. *pick jaw up off the floor here* I mean she wasn't old, but she wasn't young either. Just super upbeat and super fit! I hope I can be like that in 25 years.

You'll come to the point where you are nearing the top and you can see a ridge ahead and you think "just over that ridge", but so you are not deceived, there are 2 small ridges. However, the end is nigh and you can do it! You'll come over that second ridge and though there are some trees in the way of the glacier (you can see it if you veer to the right off the path a bit), the grade levels and it's the home stretch.
Old Goat Glacier, Kananaskis
One thing I love about hiking is seeing how far you've come. It never ceases to amaze.
Panorama: Old Goat Glacier on the left


-This one calls for poles if you have them, the descent can be tough on the knees.
-Though you will be watching your footing on the way down, be sure to stop and glance up once and a while to enjoy that well earned view because it's magnificent!
-The ascent takes significantly longer than the descent so that is something to consider if timing is something you are noting (for us 2.5 hours there, 1 back).

Happy Hiking!