Here’s a throwback to this summer when we had an opportunity to get some hiking in. We have to give credit to our patients for recommending this hike and my only regret is that we did not listen to them earlier!
WHO can do this hike? You have to be reasonably physically fit and I recommend having hiking boots or shoes at minimum. We did see some kids along the trail and even a 5 year old at the true summit, although that was quite impressive for that age! It is 13.8km return. We had a steady pace with about a half hour for lunch at the summit and it took about 2 hours up and 1.5 hours back.
This is a fantastic hike and, best of all, it’s not that far away. Only 40km away from Calgary, take Highway 22x which becomes Elbow Valley Trail (Hwy 66). Take the exit for Moose Mountain Road which ascends about 7.5km straight up (rough gravel road). There is a parking lot, but the entrance to the hike is past a double gate which will be on your right. The entrance to the hike is BEFORE the parking lot, not IN or PAST the parking lot (we thought we wouldn’t miss it either but we did!).
The hike starts with a slow easy ascent and then descends deeply for 1km. That all seems fine and dandy except that you have to climb this at the very end when you return and are dead tired! It goes through the woods on a fairly wide path for most of it, and the inclines are not that bad. You will definitely know when you break out of the trees because the trail will open up into beautiful and wide plane, the false summit ahead with the true summit hidden behind. Even when you start climbing to the false summit, the views will be amazing.
The false summit climb can be done via switchbacks, or, if you have good boots, straight up to cut down some time. We went straight up for the most part but did some switchbacks where it looked too steep.
The switchbacks are fairly easy but make the hike longer. If you are so inclined and have good boots, you can mountain goat your way straight up, which is what we did. You get a great workout and you save some time.
Once you reach the top of the first summit, you will feel accomplished. You will enjoy your time there, take in the amazing views, and be happy. You will feel like you have conquered the mountain. But you haven’t done that quite yet. Many people make this the final destination and then turn around and descend after having lunch or a snack. You just feel that good!
But then you see it. The true summit, in the distance. There is a precarious pathway (as you can see in the picture below) that leads you all the way to the true summit. You first may feel a hint of fear, but then you tell yourself “go for it!”
After the false summit, you descend for a short period to wear the pathway to the true summit begins. When you look upwards, you wonder to yourself “where does this pathway go?” It is very hard to see from the bottom where it leads and it is also very deceivingly narrow and dangerous from a distance, but as you start hiking it you will realize that it’s not as bad as it looks. And it will be worth the trek, trust me.
You are literally walking on the side of the mountain with a sheer drop off to the side, however you are on the calm side of the mountain so there is no wind to make you unsteady. You proceed along the side of the mountain at a fairly steep grade for a short period of time.
And after a hard and solid climb up the side of the mountain, you finally reach the true summit! And is it ever spectacular!
Moose Mountain is an active and fully operational fire lookout. It comes with a lookout tower and a helipad which is perfect for sitting down for a while and eating your lunch while enjoy 365 degree viewing. The man who works the fire tower came out a few times taking measurements and chatted briefly, but realistically he has a job to do and does not spend much time with the public. You’ll stand at the top and marvel at your accomplishment and realize that not many people get to stand where you are. You should make sure to sign the guestbook at the top. I always find it neat to look back in the book and see what people wrote and where they’re visiting from. Then you step back one more time and realize that this hike, this amazing view, is right in your back yard, and didn’t cost you a single thing except a bit of time and a bit of energy. But it’s all worthwhile!
Life is too short. Enjoy it ALWAYS.
Please feel free to visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/accesswellness! Dr. Jacqueline Boyd and Paul Bajor are the only husband and wife chiropractic team in Airdrie, Alberta. Their practice, Access Chiropractic and Wellness, is located at #120, 52 Gateway Drive NE in the north of Airdrie. They have been in practice in Airdrie since 2004 and in practice since 2001. They have two kids named Liam and Julia and have a large family based practice. With these doctors, you get what you see because they practice what they preach.
Drs. Jacqueline Boyd and Paul Bajor are also both registered and active members of the ICPA (International Chiropractic Pediatric Association).