The 80 kilometre High Rockies Trail, which connects Goat Creek at the Banff Park boundary to Elk Pass on the Alberta B.C. boundary, is the westernmost section of The Great Trail in Alberta. It caters to hikers, trail runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers and in some sections, skiers. The scenery is outstanding and there is a short, but beautifully built, boardwalk section just before Goat Pond.
It travels uninterrupted through three provincial parks, Bow Valley Wildland, Spray Valley and Peter Lougheed to finish on the Alberta – British Columbia border at Elk Pass.
The trail is easy to access from numerous parking lots and picnic areas along the Smith Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) but more than likely, you’ll want to explore the trail in manageable sections. There are no shuttle systems in place so you’ll have to arrange your own or plan on an out and back bike ride.
You can expect to come across a diverse landscape. Much of it is in the forest, yet there are plenty of open areas and views. Lakeside riding is very pleasant and mostly flat – while those sections with particularly great mountain views, like the Sparrowhawk Day Use Area to Buller Creek section, will test your aerobic conditioning.
Nature lovers will also enjoy the trail. There are wildflowers in season including fireweed, asters and arnica. In fall sections of the trail are ablaze with yellow aspen and to a lesser extent larch. Birding can be very good with close to 120 bird species nesting in Kananaskis Country. Watch that your lunch isn’t stolen by gray jays or ravens. Bear, moose and coyote sightings are common.