A little more than two years after the massive flooding in June 2013 in Kananaskis Country, the hard work of restoring several of the region’s iconic trails is mostly done.
In the late spring of 2015 the Alberta Parks Bow Valley trail crew began seasonal work on the Ribbon Creek and Galatea trails, off Highway 40. Ribbon Creek probably had the worst flood damage of any of the popular K-Country trails – water and debris raged down this narrow creek bed, taking out all the bridges and piling up massive knots of dead trees, brush and boulders at every turn.
Work on Ribbon Creek in 2014 was mostly focused on re-establishing a connection between Kananaskis Village and the upper portion of the trail, repairing key bridges and rerouting several sections of trail so hikers and campers could access the backcountry campgrounds at Ribbon Falls and Ribbon Creek. In 2015, the crew was back at the site, replacing trail along the lower section of the creek bed and putting in a new, wider section on the bank above the creek, which will be groomed for cross country skiers.
By the end of this past summer, when all the work was completed, the crew had put in four new fibreglass bridges (flown in by helicopter) and two new wooden bridges. The experience on the trail is a bit different, for hikers and bikers accustomed to the “old” Ribbon Creek – the trail along the creek bed is narrower, and follows a different path overall. Try it out this winter with your skis or snowshoes, or visit after the snow melts in the spring.
A few kilometres down the highway, repair and rerouting on the Galatea Trail was another huge summer 2015 job for the Bow Valley trail crew. Although the big suspension bridge just off the trailhead survived, the crew replaced six additional bridges along the trail this past summer, three fibreglass and three wood, as well as building several reroutes and navigating one steep slope that had been completely eroded. In 2016, plans are underway for a rebuild of the popular Lillian Lake backcountry campground, which was directly in the path of the 2013 flood.
Kananaskis Region of Alberta Parks has three seasonal trail crews, and they were all kept busy in 2015 just repairing flood damage. They collaborate closely with trail crews from Public Lands, and with volunteer groups including the Friends of Kananaskis. Avid hikers, bikers, equestrians, skiers, snowshoers, and motorized trail users will see improved trail conditions throughout the region, including Big Elbow Trail, Boulton Creek, Sheep Trail, Etherington Creek, Paddy’s Flats, Fullerton Loop, and many more. But there’s still only one way to really experience the new, improved trail conditions: get outside!