Goat Creek; Skogan Pass

Curiosity got the best of me, and I finally had to see for myself what the conditions were on Goat Creek.

Skiers on Goat Creek in Banff National Park. Dec 21, 2009

I set out from the trailhead at Canmore at 2:45 pm, hoping I’d make it to the end, 18K later, before dark. Maybe it wasn’t the most prudent thing to do on the shortest day of the year! I wasn’t sure what to expect on this trail, as I had no information from anyone who had skied it.

The first 13K was pretty good from Canmore to the Spray River loop. After that, the final 5K to Banff was very thin with many exposed rocks. It was skiable but you’d have to be very cautious on the downhills, but still guaranteed to to gouge your skis.  The entire trail has been packed but not trackset.

The steep, winding hill down to the bridge at 7K over Goat Creek, the one I fondly call the “widowmaker” bridge, had 19 exposed rocks. I counted them on the way down. I managed to avoid 18 of them! It’s quite a feat to dodge the rocks and slow down for the sudden turn which you need to make in order to get on the bridge(rather than in the creek).

The middle section of the trail was in the best condition. From the Goat Creek bridge to the Spray River loop there was good skier-set track and it was smooth gliding with few exposed rocks. I’ve often seen cougar tracks in this area, but not today.

This is not a trail for novice skiers, and especially not right now with the poor conditions. There are a number of steep downhills, and just when you’ve bult up your speed, there’s a sharp turn.

The snow was fast – I arrived in Banff a lot sooner than expected, with a bit of daylight remaining,  and had to wait a few minutes for my ride to the hot springs.

More photos

Skogan Pass
This comment on Skogan Pass was sent in by Alf Skrastins:

“Hey Bob,
Thanks for the news, information and sheer excitement for skiing that your site provides.  Who knows, it may have even helped K-Country management realize the mistake they make by initially deciding not to groom the Ribbon Creek trails this season.  I want to thank the trail crew who put in a great effort to groom these trails on Dec 19 & 20.  I spent the day enjoying the upper trails in the Skogan Loop – Sunburst Lookout area on Monday.  The trails were in superb shape and the snow just got better as you gained elevation.

Lots of great skiing here, with half the driving time of PLPP or Mt. Shark Trails!”

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