Nihahi Creek Trail is a great hike for beginners or anyone looking for an easier route. It is also a great hike for anyone who loves rocks and rock formations. The hike leads to a dry creek bed which you can explore.
Little Elbow is a popular campground in Kananaskis, down highway AB-66 from Bragg Creek. It includes a few lovely day use areas around Forgetmenot Pond and the trailhead along the water. Park in the day use parking lot, near the trail head. You will reach this lot before entering the campground, so if you reach the campground itself, you’ve gone too far!
Make sure when you embark on the hike, you follow the signs and trails to the creek, not the ridge. If you end up on the Nihahi Ridge trail, you will be in for some lovely views, but a much harder hike. Nihahi Creek Trail is a 5 km out-and-back hike, with about 240 m elevation.
The trail stays level as it follows Little Elbow Trail. Stay on Little Elbow at the junction with Nihahi Ridge. In about half a kilometre there is another fork in the path. Take the trail towards the right, here you will gain some elevation. The path leads through the forest, eventually stopping above the creek bed. You will need to pick your way down the hill (it is not too difficult, but there is no defined path). I recommend eating lunch or snacks here on the rocks if you want a break, rather than in the creek bed.
Take time to explore the dry creek bed, marvel at the way water has carved through the rock over time. Depending on the weather and time of year, there may be an abundance of bugs in the creek. When I did this hike in August 2020, there were many, many flies and a few distinct wasps nests. We did our best to avoid disturbing them and made it in and out without incident, but it added stress that wasn’t there on my first trip in June 2018. In the early summer, we did not have to compete with bugs for space. This is a potential consideration for timing.
This is a great hike to bring your pets on. My dog loved the smells of the backcountry, though I wouldn’t say he is a “hiking dog”. This trail was easy enough for his short legs to manage and he had a great time. Just remember when taking your animals out on the trail that you need to clean up after them, which could mean carrying poop out with you if they go. It is always recommended that you keep dogs on-leash in the backcountry, in case you encounter any animals. The distractions in the wilderness can be a lot greater than in the city, so your recall-trained dog may not respond as well as back home.
You hike the same trail on the way back down, retracing your steps. As there aren’t any particularly steep or dangerous sections, it is a quick return trip. But do take time to enjoy the views!
This has always been a quiet trail, when I have hiked it. Sometimes I’ve seen hikers doing different trips in the same area, but only one other group actually hiked the creek. So if you are looking for an easy hike that isn’t so busy, Nihahi Creek is a great fit!