If you have ever wanted to start backcountry camping, Mount Romulus is a great campsite to start at. The campsite itself has all the amenities offered in backcountry sites including picnic tables, bear lockers, prepared firewood and even toilets stocked with toilet paper (a rarity in the backcountry, you usually need to bring your own).
On July 30-31, my boyfriend and I embarked on his first overnight trip in the back country. I have hiked in the Little Elbow valley a little before, but it was his first time out here too! If you have read my Nihahi Creek post, that hike is in the same area! Little Elbow is a great section of Kananaskis that isn’t too far from Calgary (only about an hour, less depending on what part of the city you live/are staying in). There is a beautiful front country campsite in Little Elbow as well, but we hiked passed it along our 12 km journey.
The hike starts at the Little Elbow Day-use lot and passes the Little Elbow campground before joining up with Little Elbow trail. The trail is 11.9 km to Mount Romulus campground. The first 4.5 km are flat, as you walk alongside the river. Once you cross the bridge over the river, the trail begins to climb, then continues in rolling hills until you reach the campground. The total elevation is 466 metres.
We began the hike at 11:40 am, after picking up our tent from the UCalgary Outdoor Centre. This is a great place to rent gear as they have some of the lowest costs in the city and anyone can rent here, not just students!
We hiked for about an hour before we stopped to eat lunch. We sat by the river and roasted a little in the sun (it was a very hot weekend). After lunch, we continued on our way to the campground. We passed the sign for the Nihahi Creek trail and shortly after reached the bridge that marked our “almost” halfway point.
I had read on AllTrails some complaints about this trail no being as beautiful or picturesque as others, and I’d have to disagree. For a trail with not too much elevation, the views are very pretty! You hike beside the river the majority of the hike, and through forest throughout. The mountains on either side of the valley are gorgeous and we were lucky to be hiking in this year’s wildflower season (later than usual). You don’t need to do a difficult hike to get nice mountain views 😊.
We reached the campground at exactly 4 o’clock. The campground was empty, so we got our choice of campsite. After setting up the tent and organizing our things a little, we took a quick nap before dinner. When we woke up there were more people set up in the campground and others arriving. We noticed there were many families here, as the campsite is also accessible by bike. The equestrian campground is further down the trail.
We filtered water from the nearby river and made our backcountry fried rice with extra veggie protein. After dinner, we started a fire in one of the designated pits (in part to ward off the mosquitos) and I enjoyed some tea. I love being in the backcountry and having a well serviced campsite makes the experience that much easier. I’d definitely recommend the site if you a beginner, or even just looking for an easy weekend trip.
The next morning, we packed up the tent before preparing food. We had oatmeal for breakfast, along with our tea and coffee, before packing up and heading out. I prefer to pack up tents and sleeping bags before eating because I find it makes my morning more efficient. We didn’t rush out as quickly as we maybe should have to beat the heat, and left the campground at 11 am.
We hiked back more quickly than the day before, reaching the bridge before 1 pm. We took a short snack break in the shade here, dipping our bandanas in the river to keep us cool. Though the last 5-6 km were flat, they felt long due to the temperature. It was definitely above 30ºC.
We made it back to the parking lot at 2:45 pm, a good 35 minutes faster than the day before. Our feet were tired, but it was a great way to spend the weekend.
Note: Little Elbow does get very, very busy during summer weekends, especially around Forget-me-not-pond. Make sure to make a reservation in advance and you shouldn’t have any issues.