Best skiing of the year

KC the retriever is hot on my heels on Elbow South

I decided to brave the crowds and head for West Bragg Creek this morning. I was in need of a dog fix and boy, this place delivered. 

Elbow trail: Rob with his friendly dog Stella

I picked the perfect day because Elbow South and Iron Springs South, the trails groomed by Alberta Parks, had both been trackset last night or this morning. I don’t know where you get grooming reports for these trails. I guess this blog is it.  

Next was a happy dog named Ella

I arrived just before 10:00 and had no trouble finding parking. The temperature was -6°C with calm air and overcast skies. When I left around 1 pm, a few vehicles were circling the parking lot, but nobody was parked on the road. 

I don’t know how warm it eventually got, but I had good success with blue, then purple wax as I skied my 17K loop. The sun came out and it was a beautiful day, but perhaps a little too nice. I wonder if the snow got wet later in the day. 

Iron Springs South

The grooming report indicates the tracksetting on Sundog West is 6 days old but it looked practically brand new to me as I headed up the trail. Everywhere I skied had excellent tracks to follow regardless of how old it was. That snow rabbit machine makes a nice firm track. 

Iron Creek

From Sundog, I headed south on Elbow where there are lots of hills. For the direction I was going, all the hills and turns were in excellent shape. The final steep climb on Elbow was getting a bit dished for the downhillers coming towards me, but it still looked edge-able. 

As I made my way, I met dog after friendly dog. Rob with his dog Stella was the first one, then a couple right behind with a dog named Ella. Easy names to remember, Stella and Ella. 

Iron Springs

I also had the pleasure of meeting Cam Westhead, the former MLA for the area. Cam was a strong advocate for the Bragg Creek trails and was instrumental in getting funding for many of the improvements. 

At the next intersection, I was astonished to see the new tracksetting on South Elbow. I have only skied South Elbow twice in the past, never on good conditions, so this was an opportunity not to be missed. As I set out, a dog named KC was in hot pursuit. 

East Crystal Line

The South Elbow/South Iron Springs loop is 2.1K and is a lot of fun if you like fast downhills. On the good conditions it was a lot of fun today. South Iron Springs is extremely pretty when the sun is shining. 

Next on the itinerary was a side trip, out and back, on Iron Creek. What a fantastic little trail. It is only 1.6K but is all roller-coaster hills with wide, sweeping turns where you can stay in the tracks. The multi-use portion of the trail gets lots of foot traffic, but the tracks were still in fine shape. 

Cam Westhead, former MLA for the area

I had beautiful, sunny scenery for the retun on Iron Springs. Still good snow cover in the sunny section except for about 5 metres under a tree canopy where there was no snow on one side. Getting a little tired after the climb on Iron Springs, the effortless, pleasant downhill on East Crystal Line was a welcome respite. 

I see the Alberta Parks website for Sandy McNabb has finally been updated and shows the trails which have been groomed. 

I missed this update for the Yoho Valley Road: It was trackset on Dec 28. 

Has anybody been to Emerald Lake? 

Pete’s trip report leads me to believe the Moraine Lake road parking lot has re-opened. 


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  1. The snow remained cold and firm later in the day. That’s for Iron Springs, Elbow, and Crystal. It was +1C at 3pm and zero at 5pm at the parking lot.

  2. Happy New Year Bob. I reported on Emerald Lake on the 29th, and on the first half of the Kicking Horse trail – both good with soft silky snow in groomed tracks. I’m happy to report that today there was no sign of doggie damage in the tracks on the Yoho Valley Road as reported by Wally yesterday, must have got skied and snowed over. Snowing lightly all day today and if the forecast comes true, all of these reports will rapidly get outdated!

    Thanks, Chris. Now that you mention it I did read your report. My memory is failing me. Bob

  3. Wally MacNaughton

    Skied Yoho Valley Road on Dec 30th. It was snowing lightly so the tracks were getting a bit soft, but still in pretty good shape. Lots of fat skiers go up that route but they were staying clear of the set tracks. Unfortunately, near the end of our return we met a couple who were letting their exuberant labradoodle jump all over the tracks. He said he was “trying” to keep the dog out of the tracks, but his efforts seemed feeble at best.

  4. Hey Bob,

    Glad you had fun on South Iron Springs/Elbow. Boomer Groomer Jeff set those tracks as people kept asking and we thought it best not to wait any longer for AEP to get back from holidays.

    Take Care Groomer DNA

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