Redearth Creek is trackset

Picture postcard scenery

The warden’s cabin at the end of the Redearth Creek trail in Banff National Park. Nov 23, 2009

We had a great ski on Redearth Creek yesterday. Best part of the ski was what I believe to be wolverine tracks along the trail. I’m not an expert tracker, but these did not look like cougar tracks.

Wolverine tracks on Redearth Creek

The snow was a bit thin on the first 2K with the odd rock still exposed. Easy to avoid while climbing but a little more of a problem when descending the fast downhills. The tracksetting starts about 500M from the trailhead and goes all the way to the warden’s cabin, about 11K.

After the first 2K in which you climb about 180M in elevation, the snow was appreciably better. At the 7K point at which you cross the Redearth Creek bridge, and go past the backcountry campground, there were moose tracks parallel to the trail. Some places the moose walked in the ski tracks. You’ll see a picture of this in my photo album.

Soon after seeing the moose tracks, we saw the only other skier of the day returning to the trailhead. A little further, maybe about the 8K point, we saw the clearest, most vivid wolverine tracks running alongside the trail.

My copy of Chic Scott’s trail guide, Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, is dog-eared from years of use. I think it gives very accurate descriptions of most trails, but regarding Redearth Creek I have to respectfully disagree with his description of this trail as “easy” and “a good place to practice your skills in a safe environment.” Unless you have absolutely perfect snow conditions, this trail is not easy. On the way up you climb extensively. The net elevation gain to the warden’s cabin is about 325M, but after the initial steep portion, the trail undulates, so you probably accumulate at least 500M.

On the way back, you have steep winding downhills where you can get quite a head of steam going. I would be more apt to say, “if you are a seasoned intermediate skier, this trail will still test your ability and fitness.”

On the way up to Shadow Lake my first time many years ago, there were a number of skiers huddled around a woman laying on the trail. She had fallen and broken her leg on one of the steepest sections of trail as she was returning to the trailhead with about 2K to go.

This is a fabulous trail with lots of variety and spectacular scenery, but if you are a novice skier, I would hone my skills before trying it.


Early season racing in Golden, BC

For those ski racers in the crowd, if you’re itching to test yourself early in the season, there’s a terrific race going on this weekend:

For more info

To register, go to Zone 4

I hear the Sat night sprints are quite a sight to behold as they are held at the Kicking Horse venue under the lights.

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  1. Hi Bob:

    Your observations on the difficulty of Red Earth Creek are right on…it is a trail not suitable for most novice skiers.
    When Chic Scott wrote his version of Ski Trails In the Canadian Rockies, he had to rely on his editiors for their observations on “nordic trails” as his background and experience was mostly mountaineering. One of the exceptions would be Red Earth Creek.

    The trail up to Shadow Lake is indeed difficult, as is the ski out when not snowmobile packed. When I skied it in ’05 the trail was in Great shape, but could benifit with some tree removal and perhaps being rerouted. When a group of ski clubs from Calgary rated the shadow lake trail section it had a difficulty of 6.

    On a number of occasions I have noticed that the inital section of the trail is influenced by the weather in the Bow River Valley(often icy), but can change as one skis further up.

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