Category Archives: Alberta Campground Directory

Campgrounds and Hiking Trails of Alberta, Canada

Northover Ridge in Kananaskis

I found interesting information on Northover Ridge from a couple of websites. I am hoping to complete the backpacking trip sometime and am adding Northover Ridge information as I find it.  View part one of this Best Hike in Canada series.

Here is the best free description about the Northover Ridge Backpacking trip. http://snow.prohosting.com/bennettw/hikes/northover_ridge/northover_ridge.htm

The following two images are from the above url.

Mount Northover

From http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=d33b6763-45d8-4609-953f-3aa200fa8c9d we have this excerpt:

This Regular cache is located at the Northern extent to Northover ridge on the Defender Mountain Mount Northover Col.

On bivouac.com:
Club group dayhikes the Northover Ridge route, finishing two hours after sunset.

When the guidebooks use words like “operatic vistas,” “affords an ecstatic sense of exploration,” and “sustained high-elevation route” (Copeland and Copeland), or “magnificent” and “best . . . trip in K-country” (Daffern) along with “thrill ride,” “alarmingly steep,” “shoulder-width and outer space airy,” (Copeland and Copeland), “scree slopes poised above cliffs,” “tightrope of scree and shattered rock,” “slopes plunging over 1200 m,” and “vertigo-inducing” (Daffern), you know you want to go there, but you’re not sure you should. Northover Ridge is for experienced and self-confident hikers…

Here is a quote from one of the guided trip itineraries at the Canadian Rockies Hiking website.

“Day 2: Kananaskis Lakes – Three Isle Lake
We will pick you up after breakfast, deal with last minute gear issues and food packing then drive to the trailhead (1hour) along the spectacular Smith-Dorrien highway to the south of Canmore. The trail leads us first around the Upper Kananaskis Lake then into the forests following the Kananaskis River. After reaching the Forks, we continue to hike up the Three Isle headwall to camp for the night at Three Isle Lake (2175m.). Distance 10km. Elevation gain 300m.

On Northover Ridge

Day 3: Day hike to Northover Ridge
We are never far from treeline now and the scenery begins to expand exponentially as we rapidly gain height above the Lake carrying only light packs. From Northover Ridge (2800m.) and west into the Royal Group and beyond. Distance 10km. Elevation gain 600m, loss 600m.

Day 4: Three Isle – Turbine Canyon
Today is pass crossing day and the most challenging we face! After breakfast we make our way to the Continental Divide at South Kananaskis Pass (2306m) and cross into British Columbia. Passing Beatty Lake we contour into Leroy Creek on rough trails to re-cross the continental divide at North Kananaskis Pass (2368m) where we can stop to enjoy the views surrounding Maude Lake. Another 2km and we arrive at Turbine Canyon. Distance 14.2km. Elevation gain 730m., loss 650m.

Day 5: Turbine Canyon – Forks Campground
Turbine Canyon Camp (2200m) sits on a bench near treeline above the confluence of Maude Brook and the Upper Kananaskis River, it is named after the impressive and narrow canyon just downstream from the campsite. The views are tremendous and it’s also a great place to do a side trip. After a leisurely morning spent exploring this fascinating area we hike across the meadows to Lawson Lake and then it’s all downhill as we descend to the Upper Kananaskis River valley bottom and Forks campground. Distance 7.8km. Elevation loss 400m.”

Northover Ridge pictures here.

Mount Northover is located on the border of Alberta and British Columbia on the Continental Divide. It was named in 1917 after Northover, Lieutenant A.W.[1][2]

Mount Northover located at 50°34′57″N115°00′58″W

Here is an excerpt from http://waputik.tripod.com/gdt_meadow.htm#NOR

At an elevation of 2,591 m (8,500′) on the Continental Divide, the unnamed col provides a clear view of the next objective, the col (grid ref. 242054) just west of the summit of Mt. Northover. The trail is well-defined, but even when it is snow-covered, the route is obvious. Northover col (2,804 m (9,200′) is the start of the highest maintained hiking trail in the Canadian Rockies, and for the next 2.5 km the route is right on the divide. To begin, head left from the col and scramble up a short scree slope to find the first cairn on the ridge. The ridge is comfortably wide at the beginning, but it gradually narrows as you approach the high point. The drop-off to the Palliser valley is quite precipitous, but I wouldn’t rate any part of the route as exposed. However, there are one or two points where one must be cautious; it would be easy to lose one’s footing due to the strong winds that often sweep the ridge.

The high point, at 2,845 m (9,332′), offers spectacular views in all directions, especially of the Royal Group, Mt. Joffre, Three Isle Lake and Mt. Sir Douglas. This picture from the guide was taken from near the summit, looking back to Mt. Northover (centre-left skyline) and the glaciated north face of Mt. Joffre (right skyline). There are some excellent pictures of the Northover Ridge trip onBennett Wong’s site.

Here is another Northover Ridge intinerary and very good warnings etc from a calgary backpacking club:
Northover Ridge is described as the best hike in Kananaskis! The trip will be just over 32 km (20 mi) long with an elevation gain of ~1180 m (3871 ft). This trip will be technically difficult and extremely strenuous – NOT FOR BEGINNERS!!! There have been fatalities on this route and I don’t want to add to the statistics. Be sure to read the COMPLETE event description CAREFULLY before signing up. I would also urge you to look at Illustrated Hikes of the Canadian Rockies to see if this event is appropriate for your ability and fitness level.
Read the full itinerary here:http://www.calgaryoutdoorclub.com/events/details.asp?eventid=10376

Maligne Lake and Spirit Island in the Alberta Rocky Mountains

Maligne Lake has been said to be one of the most beautiful spots on Earth. Some call it Paradise and others, Heaven.

Spirit Island on Maligne Lake is probably one of the most photographed islands in the world. The view takes your breath away and leaves you speechless.

Trailpeak has some great directions and photographs.

And for very nice photo’s of Spirit Island on Maligne Lake check out Flickr

Free Camping in Alberta

With todays constantly raising camping fees many people ask – “where can I camp for free”?

The good news is that, for those who are willing to do without some of the luxuries present at paid campgrounds such as, running water or flush toilets, there are many free camping options and below I’d like to shed some light on some of these free camping sites located throughout the province of Alberta, Canada.

Camping is an awesome way to experience the outdoors and free camping is permitted on Public (crown) lands is permitted in Alberta. The Sustainable Resource Development (SRD) department of Alberta recommends following some basic rules and guidelines while camping and using public lands. They encourage the practice of “no trace camping”

Plan ahead and be prepared.

  • Contact lease holder prior to travelling on leased land.
  • Know what the terrain and ground conditions are like and your planned route.

Respect the right of other users by limiting your stay to a maximum 14 consecutive days

Lave what you find and don’t disturb.

This includes to rocks, plants, crops, lifestock or archeological artifacts you might encounter.

Manage food and waste.

  • Dispose human waste in outhouse or at sewage disposal site and if not available dispose all human waste in “cat holes” dug 6-8 inches into soil, at least 100 metres (300 feet) from water, camp, trails and drainages.
  • Don’t litter and pack out everything using sealed bags.

Minimize your impact by sticking to established camping areas and camping surfaces.

Be careful with Campfires. Keep the fire small and don’t leave it unattended.  Put out your fire with water before leaving.

Camp at least 30 metres (100 feet) away from any watercourse.

 

For a summary of all of the guidelines that should be followed while recreating on public lands check out this guide: (click image below to read pdf file)

Camping Free in Alberta

Camp for free in Alberta but Respect The Land

 

Did you know camping is permitted in Forest Land Use Zones (FLUZ)?

“A Forest Land Use Zone (FLUZ) is an area of public land to which legislative controls apply under authority of the Forests Act, Forest Recreation Regulation (343/1979) to assist in the management of industrial, commercial, and recreational land uses and resources”.  At the time of writing, there are 19 FLUZ zones covering approximately 11,200 square km’s (4,324.34 square miles) of public land in Alberta.

One of my favorite FLUZ zones is found in the Kananaski’s Contry area located about 45 minute drive west of Calgary in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.

Check out the forestland use zone you would like to visit at http://www.srd.alberta.ca/RecreationPublicUse/RecreationOnPublicLand/ForestLandUseZones/Default.aspx

Looking for a good deal on high quality tent, sleeping bag or other camping supplies?

The guys at BC25.com handpick backcountry gear deals from top on-line retailers and post them daily. They promise savings of 25% or more.  Check out their hiking & camping gear deals.

Camping and Hiking with Dogs in BC and Alberta

A Tracks And Trails visitor, or ***warning: this is a pun*** maybe this will be a Tracks and Tails visitor, had a great question today;

“I am trying to search for hikes I can do this summber BC or Alberta
where I can go for a few days camping and hiking but where I Can take
my dog with me… any suggestiong on hikes or where I might find this
info?” 😛 😛 😛

Camping

My 4 month old Australian Shepherd cross, Sydney wants to go hiking to!

My first thought is if your planning to hike and camp in British Columbia or Alberta this summer, you will probably be travelling through the Rockies which would include Banff, Lake Louise Rogers Pass, Glacier National Park etc and if that is the case I would check out the respective Park websites for the individual loacation restrictions – I don’t think there are any (aside from keeping your dog on a leash around campsites). Having said that, I will be checking myself and find out if there are any blanket statements that can be made and will update this post asap.

Now if you are interested in Free Camping in BC, you can use the Forest Recreation Sites and pets are allowed, even Black Bear Pets so just be sure to treat them kindly if you see them and post a picture of them here please! If you are on any backroads in BC they are generally on Crown Land – Hiking and Camping is free and pets are allowed! 🙂

As for suggestions on hikes well, you have come to the right place. I could list my favourite hikes and camping areas below and encourage others to as well but there are a few listed here – Favourite Camping Areas but to really help your trip be memorable, I encourage you to leave a comment below and state your experience in camping and hiking and what features you would most like to see.

Best Hike in Canada - time to plan the trip

The trail is about one meter wide and winds along a knife like ridge with abrupt cliffs dropping into nothingness on either side. The view exposes magnificent peaks of the Rocky Mountains that surround you. The above has been an image that has intrigued me for several years. Where is it? I didn’t know but last winter I met up with a couple who are Rocky Mountain experts. They are Kathy and Craig Copeland, publishers of unique hiking guidebooks and some very cool eBooks, and I asked them where do I find a hiking trail that brings you to a knife-like ridge in the Rockies? Here is there answer!

To answer your initial question, we know precisely the trail you’re looking for: Northover Ridge, in Kananaskis Country, which is the provincial park area of the Canadian Rockies immediately south of Banff National Park. Northover is the SUPREME  arete ridgewalk.  We have a guidebook that
covers that region and includes that hike. The book is titled “Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies” and is subtitled “The Premier Trails near Canmore and Calgary.”
You’ll find it on this page of our site: http://www.hikingcamping.com/hike-locals-rockies.php

If you are interested in this adventure please see this informative Northover Ridge and GDT post as well: http://tracksandtrails.ca/2010/04/northover-ridge-in-kananaskis/

I haven’t purchased the guide book yet but as I begin to plan the trip it is definitely on my to-do list. I started a little search thus far and here are some great pics and info from others who have been there.

A member of ClubTread.com with the alias northernalberta writes:

“Kcountry, myself and four others spent friday to sunday slogging up Northover Ridge from south to north, on what Andrew and I have since voted the Most Spectacular Hike in the Canadian Rockies.

We weren’t able to leave the trailhead till 7:40pm on the friday night, which I thought wouldn’t be a problem since it’s *only* 10 km up to Aster Lake. What I failed to realize was the tortuous path over deadfall around Hidden Lake and the ascent up 600 vertical metres of scree and slippery wet rockbands would add a little time. Aster Lake campground is amidst mounds of barren bedrock, scree and raging waterfalls so the fact we were able to find it in the dark, at 12:30pm, still amazes me. It wasn’t without a few heated exchanges in frustration over which direction to hike.”

NorthernAlberta also posted several great photo’s at this link.

If you are interested in planning a trip with me, comment below.

Please read Part 2 of the Best Canadian Hike series.