Bragg Creek Provincial Park
Time: 5 hours
Distance: 8.8km (return)
Elevation Gain: 375 m
How To Get There: Drive west on Hwy 66 and then turn left into the access road for Little Elbow Recreation Area. Turn left at the "Trailhead Parking."
When plans fall through on a weekend, then there is no better time to go out for a hike instead! So I grabbed my sister and we headed out west towards blue bird sky. The temperature was calling for plus 9 degrees, the perfect time for a change of plans!
Once we reached the parking lot and finally figured out where the real trailhead began, we put on all of our gear (including toques and gloves) and headed out.
The first kilometre of the trail is a bit of a pain as it’s technically just the Little Elbow Trail braiding around the campground’s main road. As long as we continued to walk along the river, we knew we were going in the right direction.
Once we passed two separate blue gates, we walked along a fire road for about 0.5 km and then were faced with a trail sign, telling us that we had to turn left into the trees in order to make our way towards the ridge.
The trail ascends upwards until it reaches a three way crossroads where there is another trailhead sign.
This time, you go left, walking on relatively flat ground until you reach the last intersection. And instead of staying straight, you move to your right.
This is when much of the elevation is gained as you begin to make your way up through the forest until the trees start to thin and you are able to start to see a decent view of the surrounding mountains.
At one point, the trail levels off into a small meadow and you are faced with the sight of your ultimate goal- Nihahi Ridge.
Once we hiked back into the trees, the trail immediately ascends up into a series of switchbacks.
I knew we were reaching the top of the ridge once the trail began to look rugged and rocky. There is a short switchback right past the point where there is a small guardrail and then you pop up on top of the ridge.
This is when the fun part begins! The ridge itself is long and there are many up and downs along the way to the highest point.
It was at this point we realized our blue bird sky day was about to come to an end. Once we could see over the other side of Nihahi Ridge, we were able to get our first look at the snow-filled clouds coming through the valley. While it was still sunny where we stood, I knew we were going to get hit with the snow sooner rather than later.
Before we continued on, we made sure to take a few pictures of the valley that surrounded us! The ridge immediately moves upwards over a rocky landscape, providing beautiful views on both sides as we hiked along.
The trail mostly travels along the left side of the ridge, with trees on the right and the beautiful views of the valley on the other. Because we were walking along an exposed area, the wind was a bit hard to handle at certain times. A lot of people stopped just before the last long climb up the ridge in order to avoid the wind.
Kim and I kept moving upwards, following the trail to the right side of the ridge.
We ended up taking the steeper but quicker route up to the treed area.
There was already a lot of snow on the ground as we began picking our way up through the trees and then the clouds decided it wanted to send a little more down. It came down light so it wasn’t a problem and the wind was coming from the west so we were being blocked by the trees. The packed snow was a bit slippery to walk up such a steep ascent so I gave Kim my microspikes for added balance.
Eventually we got through the trees into completely exposed terrain. We walked along the snow covered trail which provided beautiful views of the east side of the vallley.
Eventually, we came to a small rock wall that we had to climb up in order to keep going to the very highest point of the ridge.
Once we reached this point, there was still a bunch of snow that we had to be careful not to slip on and only one or two trees. The climb to the top of the ridge was covered with scree so we had to be careful to take one step at a time.
Once we reached a fairly protected area, we sat down and ate a few snacks and then continued around the bend. At this point, there was even more snow and we made the decision that this was the highest we were going to go. We were only a few hundred meters below the summit, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. So we took pictures at the highest point we reached and then began to make our way back down.
The snow started to fall once again as we descended which made for a few more beautiful shots.
I was also able to capture a fairly cute picture of Kim as she moved down the rock wall.
It wasn’t easy so I definitely wouldn’t suggest it for younger children or people who are beginner hikers. There were quite a few people who brought their dogs along on the trail, which was fine, but none of them had their pets on a leash. PLEASE KEEP YOUR DOG ON A LEASH WHEN HIKING! Keeping them off leash is dangerous to yourself, your pet and fellow hikers!
Despite the snow fall and the wind, it ended up being a very nice day for a hike. Hopefully more of my plans fall through in the future!