High Rockies trail near Buller mountain

What a magnificent biking trail! You could spend a good portion of your summer weekends checking out the different sections. I’ve only covered about 27K(plus 2.4K of access trails), and that’s not even half of it’s full length of 80K.

I biked two sections of it last year and posted about them here Part 1, The first 9K of the High Rockies

and Part 2, Goat Pond to Spurling Creek.

About 800 metres into the ride, you’ll cross this bridge over Sparrowhawk creek.

I don’t know if die-hard mountain bikers would enjoy this trail because it’s relatively easy, but for sissy mountain bikers like me, it’s fantastic. The only vexation I encountered on this section were numerous steep dipsy-doodles where, if taken at speed, would give you quite a jolt, but that was easy to avoid by slowing down and simply getting off the seat for a second or two. 

Spray lake was visible for a good portion of this bike ride on the High Rockies trail

The section I biked today has a net elevation gain of about 120 metres, but with numerous ups and downs, the total ascent was at least double that. 

The trail starts out at Sparrowhawk day use area, with a trailhead and sign right in the parking lot. After crossing the road(the Smith-Dorrien), you bike on the Sparrowhawk Tarns trail for 750 metres with a significant elevation gain. 

High Rockies trail

At 750 metres and an elevation gain of 65 metres, you’ll come to an intersection with two benches where you can relax and catch your breath. From here,  you have 3 choices: left is the High Rockies trail north, middle is the hiking trail to Sparrowhawk Tarns, and right is the High Rockies trail south, which was my route.

High Rockies trail map

Spying on you from a nearby tree is an Alberta Parks trail camera. Ostensibly the camera is for observing wildlife, but I can’t fathom any wildlife coming near this busy intersection, except, perhaps an opportunistic Whiskey Jack, looking for handouts from hikers, which is totally illegal.

I ended at Buller Mountain

For the next 10K you will experience a wide variety of trail features and conditions: Pleasant up and down biking through thick forest with welcome shade on a hot day. Magnificent scenery while crossing wide, rocky avalanche terrain. A grassy trail on an old fire road. Burnt timber from a recent fire. Numerous creeks and bridges. 

Moss Campion, which only grows at high elevations, brightens the landscape alongside the High Rockies trail

As I was nearing the Buller Pass trailhead, I spotted the next section of the High Rockies trail as it continues its southward route. It is only shown as proposed trail on the map, but it looked ready to go, and there were no signs indicating that it wasn’t open. 

Cruising through burnt timber on the High Rockies trail

I then did something I thought I’d never do: bike on the Smith-Dorrien. I’m not fond of eating dust, but I took a chance and rode back to Sparrowhawk on the gravel road. It was my lucky day, I didn’t encounter one vehicle in either direction. It only took me 27 minutes to cover 8.5K, whereas the High Rockies trail took me well over an hour of moving time. 

Flowers and spectacular scenery along the High Rockies trail

As usual in the summer, the Smith-Dorrien is at its washboard worst. I’m sure it took a year off the life of my car. It was a lot easier with the bike to find a reasonably smooth lane, but a few places shook my teeth even so. 

The first junction where you can go three possible directions. Can you spot the trail camera?

Of the 27K of trail which I’ve now biked, I would consider only one short section of it to be challenging. A 2K section of the trail between Driftwood and Spurling Creek has lots of loose rock, and plenty of steep hills. 

I’ve yet to fill in one gap, the 6.3K between Spurling creek and Sparrowhawk. 

When I pulled my bike out of the trunk at the start, my front tire was completely flat. I pumped it up and it was holding air, so I hoped for the best. I had to pump it up one more time along the trail. Probably a slow leak which I will have to get fixed. 

When complete, the High Rockies will be the longest continuous trail anywhere in Kananaskis, starting from the Goat Creek parking lot just outside Canmore all the way to Elk Pass.

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Alf still skiing

June 23, 2017
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While I was out biking another section of the High Rockies trail today, Alf Skrastins was keeping his streak alive by skiing for the 189th consecutive month.

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Wildflower paradise

June 19, 2017
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The flowers are in bloom on Pigeon mountain. I saw at least 20 species, some which I knew the names and some I didn’t. I even saw a pink Forget-me-not

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This golf course ain’t for golfin’

June 15, 2017
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When I moved to Canmore in 2007, I remember hiking past the new, gazillion-dollar Three Sisters golf course as they were putting the finishing touches to it.

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Wildflower walk

June 12, 2017
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This evening was an opportune time to go for a walk around Many Springs lake in Bow Valley Provincial park. Numerous wild flowers are in bloom

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A peaceful, unique resting place

June 10, 2017
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I recently had the pleasure of visiting a charming and quaint old church and cemetery located in the scenic Cypress Hills of Alberta.

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The consequences of not carrying bear spray

June 6, 2017
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I was out 4K on the Spray River West trail in Banff when I met Pedro. He’s from Spain, and is enjoying a vacation in Banff.

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Adventures along the Highline trail

June 4, 2017

The above video shows the beautiful, cascading secret waterfall which is about a 2-minute walk from the Highline trail.

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Eventful day on Skogan Pass

June 3, 2017
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-Brendan, Saavannah, and Xander on Skogan Pass- I bike to the top of Skogan Pass every summer, but I need to get in better shape to make it to the summit. It’s been two months

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Goat Creek in nice shape for biking

May 31, 2017
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I dusted off my bike today, filled the tires with air and headed up the Spray Lakes road to Goat Creek. Unlike my skis, my bike doesn’t get much respect.

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Chuck skis to Lake O’Hara on May 2

May 2, 2017
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-Pine Marten at Lake O’Hara. Photo by Chuck- It looks like Chuck might stretch this ski season out to 7 months. His first ski trip was on Oct 15. This is today’s report from Chuck:

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This bison calf has no idea how special it is

April 26, 2017
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Banff National Park posted this birth announcement regarding the first bison calf to be born in Banff’s backcountry in over 140 years…

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Ending on a positive note

April 17, 2017
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What a lovely day it was as I set out one last time to ascend Whiskey Jack. Last night’s tracksetting looked fantastic and inviting. I enjoyed the climb with excellent grip

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The final day is here

April 16, 2017

The PLPP Live Grooming Report indicates that tonight will be the final grooming of the season: April 16 It was a slightly colder and mainly clear night in PLPP and as of 6AM, no fresh snow has fallen in at least 12 hours, leaving the fresh grooming snow free for the time being. Barring any […]

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Bear chases kicksledder on Spray River West(with video)

April 15, 2017

Update April 19: Story in the Crag and Canyon newspaper Grizzly pursues woman, dogs on Banff trail This was posted by Annette Young on Facebook… Completely shaken but safe, untouched and unharmed….

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Unique Photos

April 13, 2017

The above photo was posted in the Castlegar, BC newspaper.  Below are some outstanding, unique photos from this blog’s readers: Read more: The Lynx Photos I met Kevin and Dauminique Dowler on the Kananaskis Village

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“The soul-mending rhythm of cross-country skiing” My Top 10 of 2016 – 2017

April 10, 2017

Top 10 These were 10 ski trips where I had exceptionally great conditions(chronological order).

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The life-blood of this blog

April 8, 2017
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-Thanks to Chuck and all the other skiers who have submitted trip reports.- It’s no mystery to me why this blog has become so popular and well-read. It’s because so many of the readers are willing to give

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Thanks for the tracks

April 7, 2017
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Where would we be without the guys and gals who spend hours on their snowmobiles and snowcats, grooming the trails for us, at ungodly hours, sometimes exposed to extreme cold?

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Typical spring skiing – 20% slower

April 6, 2017
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In mid-winter on cold snow, I can ski the Tyrwhitt loop at an average speed of 9 km/H on my waxable skis. Today, with waxless skis(zeros), on wet snow, I averaged 7.3

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