Time: 3 hours
Distance: 6 km
Elevation Gain: 600 m
How To Get There: The trailhead can be found after you park at Beaver Lodge parking just past the winter gates on highway 66 heading west.
Back in June of this year, Kim and I attempted to climb Prairie Mountain but ended up getting on the wrong trail and then realizing it too late (we ended up on Prairie Creek trail). So when Matt said we were going hiking in the Bragg Creek area for my birthday, I knew exactly which trail I wanted to try. Luckily, this time we were able to find the correct trail right off the bat (which is a rarity for Matt and me). After parking, we walked across the highway and backtracked a few hundred meters (going past the Kananaskis trail sign and across the creek) before heading upwards. This trail doesn't give you any time to warm up as it starts going straight up right away. After about fifteen minutes of picking your way upwards, it starts to get a bit easier as you level off at the top of a forested ridge.
There was a small clearing in the trees where we could see back to the highway and got a fairly good view of the mountains. We took a few pictures and then continued on. It didn't take long before we were met with another uphill climb. It was a bit difficult for both Matt and I to climb up since there was so much snow on the ground. Luckily, the trail is popular so there was already a well defined trail leading the way. Unluckily though, Matt and I were pretty much the only ones on the mountain that day without microspikes. I am definitely going to have to buy some!
Once we managed to climb up the two sets of really difficult hills (there were a few clearings on the way up where we were able to get another few good pictures), we reached the tree line. After this, we started the long trek towards the summit, walking across a ridge that dropped off into a cliff on the east side. It's a gradual climb but the views are definitely worth it. You know you've made it to the summit when you reach a cairn with a Canadian flag sticking out of it.
It was awesome to finally reach the summit of a mountain, even if it was just Prairie Mountain. Out of all of the hiking I have done in the last few years, I had never reached an official summit until this day!
The views were amazing on both sides (one side having the view of the prairies and the other was the mountains) and we could see for miles because the sky was so clear and blue.
There was barely any wind that day and the temperature was pretty decent for winter time. There was a family up there when we reached the summit so we each took turns taking pictures for each other. Then Matt and I chowed down on some cliff bars and trail mix and enjoyed the view.
I wanted to take more pictures but unfortunately, my phone chose that moment to die on me. I could have stayed up there forever! Sadly, we couldn't as we had more stuff to do that day. So after another moment of looking around, we headed back down. That's when things got interesting! Since we didn't have microspikes, we ended up sliding down most of the way. We both ended up on our butts twice but it was kind of fun! I definitely loved this hike and want to come back in the spring since it's a good shoulder season hike. Maybe next time my phone won't die on me…