It’s become a tradition in early July to take a hike along porcupine creek. The days are hot, so it’s refreshing to constantly be near running water.
The wild flowers are in bloom and there’s usually a good variety to see at this time of year. It’s off the beaten track, so odds are you won’t be seeing too many other people. Best of all, with all the creek crossings, you can get your feet wet and not have to worry about it. I took Tessa here for her birthday hike many years ago, and have been back every July during Stampede week.
There are two possible places to park. Along highway#40, soon after you’ve passed Barrier lake, and immediately before you come to the porcupine creek bridge, drive into the ditch on the east side of the road, where you’ll see a trail that goes down to a makeshift parking area. Alternatively, Wasootch day use area can also be used. I prefer the ditch.
You can hike along the creek for a long way before there is any significant elevation gain. I can’t say this is an easy hike, however, because of the many creek crossings, and narrow ledges where you have to hug the canyon wall.
If you started at Wasootch, you’ll come to a bridge at about 1.5K which you’ll need to cross to the north bank. If you start at the highway, there’s a clear and easy trail to follow along the north bank. At 1.2K, the creek splits into north and south branches. I prefer the north, as the south can have some pretty difficult creek crossings.
According to the Gem Trek map, you can go a total distance of 4.8K along the north fork, and according to Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, you can go 7K to Boundary ridge, which would entail a major elevation gain of 783 m.
I don’t think I’ve ever gone more than 4k, which I am perfectly content with considering I have Tessa with me, where the north fork opens up into a wide valley that is very scenic and peaceful. Quoting from Daffern’s guide, “Perpendicular walls topped by wafer-thin ridges winging upwards to unseen summits will have your mouth hanging open.”