As the weather grows colder and snow begins to visit the mountains, we move from the temperate summer hiking to shoulder season hikes. Though some access roads and hikes are closed during the winter season, many are still accessible and the mountains are just as breathtaking in the winter months (if not more). The most important part about winter hiking is to bring many, many layers. As physical exertion will keep you warm while walking, you may feel like less layers are necessary, but it is important to have extra sweaters, toques and gloves just in case. And of course, always layer up as soon as you stop moving, to prevent getting chilled.
To take advantage of the long weekend in October, I embarked on an easy hike in Kananaskis. Edworthy Falls is a great shoulder season hike, as the relatively flat and wide trail provide easy navigation around puddles or in snow. I would recommend this hike to any beginner hikers in the summer, or hikers new to off season or winter hiking.
The hike begins with a steady ascent to Elbow Lake. At this point the trail levels off and becomes quite flat through the valley to Edworthy Falls. The total elevation gain, 383 m is gained in this first half hour of hiking. The trail is 9.7 km in total and took us about 3 hours from start to finish with a lunch break.
Elbow Lake also serves as an easy to reach backcountry campsite. The campsite wraps around the right side of the lake, while the trail continues on the left. After a short stop to admire the lake and surrounding mountains, we continued on our way to the falls.
The path to the falls is a narrow trail off the main path marked by a pile of rocks on the main trail. Be sure to keep an eye out for this, as we passed the rocks initially and carried on for nearly a kilometre before realizing our mistake. The path itself is not as well-defined, so be sure to take a look near the rocks and you will find it.
There is a steep descent to the bottom of the falls where you can venture to the shoreline, but if you are feeling less sure of your footing, you can also take in the view from the top of the path.
We sat near the shore and had lunch while watching the falls. Impressive icicles have already formed around the falls, giving the area a magical winter feel. After lunch, we made our way back up to the main trail and had only been walking for a few minutes when the light snow turned into more substantial flakes.
We hiked quickly back down, as the wet snow (perfect for snowball making) began to accumulate. We arrived back at the car covered in snow, but the hike was certainly worthwhile.