This trail would create thousands of happy skiers every winter. Wider than Moraine Lake Road, exactly the same distance, without the long drive to Lake Louise. Alf Skrastins has explained the logistics of bringing it back to life in today’s trip reports. Alf started at Pocaterra hut and skied an 18K loop back to the hut. He found the old Sounding Lake trail in order to access Lionel, which is actually Hwy #40. Check Alf’s comment on the Trip Reports for a detailed photo story on how to get to Hwy #40 from Rolly Road/Pocaterra Hut, and how to complete the 18K loop.
Alf further elaborated in an email…
“The closed portion of Highway #40 is the Kananaskis Version of the Moraine Lake Road. It’s a wide, easy ski with plenty of snow and no hazards. It would be the best “green” ski trail in all of Kananaskis Country.
The new snow on top of the melt-freeze crust got deeper with every southward kilometre. After about 6 km, you could see the “back door” entrance to Pocaterra… which also used to be part of the Lionel trail.
The “back door” segment had the deepest snow. It joins Pocaterra Trail at a T-intersection.
For snowshoers, it would be very easy to set a separate trail (and pack it by snowmobile) at the west edge of the road cut, adjacent to the forest. In a few places, you could duck in and out of the forest, just to add some variety. And at the major creek crossings, you would bring the trail up to the west side of the guard rails. The guard rails would provide an obvious physical separation.
It seems like re-activating Lionel as a ski trail should be a no-brainer. The highway is much wider than Moraine Lake Road, so adding a skate lane should be no problem. Even if this was the only skate ski trail in PLPP, it would be a good length(9K) from the winter gate to the “back door”. If the winter gate was the only place where skate skiers could park, then you would only need “classic XC skiing only” signs at the junction where Lionel joins Highway #40 and where the “back door” branches off. But at least that way skate skiers who drive all the way down to PLPP have somewhere that they can go… rather than turning around and driving back to Ribbon Creek.”