Hiking Kananaskis – Mount Lipsett

We tried to hike Mount Lipsett in late August, but we failed to read the hike description in detail before heading out to K-country and ended up parking in the wrong area, couldn’t find the trailhead and then got rained out before we got reorganized to try from the proper parking area.

Since we’ve never done this hike before and we were hoping to find some larch that had turned colour for some fall photographs, Mr. and Mrs. GeoK decided to tackle Mount Lipsett while the GeoKids were in school on Wednesday. We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day…the sky was blue, the sun was out and it reached about 27 degrees Celcius.

We had much better success finding the correct parking area, but not so much on finding the trailhead. There’s a whole mishmash of faint trails leading from the west end of the parking area, so it wasn’t until after a bit of a circuitous wandering and drifting way too far west that we finally found the main trail.

Things didn’t improve much from there…we tried following the Calgary Trail Maps route for a good half hour before finally turning back, heartily sick of bushwhacking, to take the old logging(?) road for a few km. We eventually reached the intersection point between the old road and the faint trail through the forest and the finished the last half of the hike without incident, spotting only a couple of songbirds and squirrels along the way.

According to “Where Locals Hike” by Kathy and Craig Copeland, this is a 12 km (return hike) with 740 meters of elevation gain. Via the old road, the elevation gain is very gradual; anyone who is in reasonably good shape should easily make it to within about 1/2 km of the summit. The last bit is steeper, but if you take your time you should be fine. Most of the old road is through the forest, so there’s also lots of shade to keep you cool on hot days.

We enjoyed our packed lunch up at the summit while we watched a lazy herd of 10 mountain sheep. On our way back down we detoured a bit to explore a couple of small ridges a little below the summit and to place a couple of new geocaches.

Back at the intersection of the road & the forest trail, we opted for the trail through the woods, anticipating a quick 1 km trek back to the lower intersection. Instead, we found ourselves burning a lot of energy as we encountered some of very heavy bushwhacking as we made our way from faint game trail to faint game trail! Next time, we’ll definitely stick to the old road…it may be longer but it’s probably quicker and we’ll still have some energy left when we get back to the parking area.

All in all a good shoulder season hike. We enjoyed the views of the Elk Range, Mist Mountain, Mount Arethusa, Gap Mountain from the summit and the views down the Highwood Valley on our return trek.

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