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Hikes we Like: Prairie View

This hike is a fairly easy 15-km loop that starts from the Barrier Dam parking lot. It is suitable for those looking for a half-day hike who are willing to drive about 15 minutes from Kananaskis Village. (On a bike, I would classify this as a third of a day). The trail is gentle with gradual elevation gain—300 m over 8 km.

To access the trailhead from Kananaskis Village, head back out to Highway 40 and go left (south) towards the Trans-Canada Highway. After about 15 minutes you’ll reach a sign that says Barrier Lake. Keep driving and turn at Barrier Dam, another few minutes down the road.

There are 11 switchbacks (count ’em) through the trees to the ridge.

The trail starts around the dam on the flat gravel path that circumnavigates the lake. At the other side of the lake, there’s a path that leads into the wilderness (AKA trees). Take it all the way (seriously, this feels like it goes on forever) under the power lines, through the meadow past the first intersection, and sign to the second one where the path crosses Stoney Trail (you’ll see a green signpost). Turn right, then take a pretty quick left that leads up the mountain.

There are 11 switchbacks (count ’em) through the trees to the ridge. Many paths shortcut the trail, but they’re steep and not well packed, so can be extremely slippery; I do not recommend these. There is also a path that leads off into nothingness on the right side of the trail; don’t take it.

The trail continues and becomes a bit steeper, but that doesn’t last very long. You’ll hit a small, open resting spot where you can see mountains ahead and the lake beside you. The high point of the trail is a rocky outcrop with an awesome view back toward Barrier Lake and Mount Baldy. You can identify this point by the massive white metal square in the trees behind (I have no idea what it is).

This is the turnaround point for most people, as well as where Jewell Pass connects to the Prairie View trail. However, if you want to keep hiking to the lookout, it’s only another kilometer or so and 125 m elevation gain. Continue on the path to the right of the rock outcrop (if you came up Prairie View).

The trail begins indistinctly but becomes apparent further on. This section is considerably steeper than the first, as well as narrower and less clear, but is short and definitely doable. You may have to climb over rock slabs. As you get closer to the summit you’ll begin to see over the other side of the ridge. Mount Yamnuska, the highway, rolling prairies, and even the cement plant come into view and make a great photo opportunity.

Enjoy a 360⁰ view of the mountains, lake and beautiful scenery in every direction.

You’ll pass some signs along the way that say “No firing guns” “Private residence ahead” and fun things like that. At the top is a small building where the fire lookout monitor lives, so please be respectful. There are multiple structures including a helipad that you can wander around.

Enjoy a 360⁰ view of the mountains, lake, and beautiful scenery in every direction. If you’re lucky you’ll meet the cute dog who lives with the current fire lookout monitor.

Heading back down the same way you came up, you can choose to take the same trail back or venture down Jewell Pass. I didn’t take Jewell Pass because a couple I ran into told me they had spotted a bear (bring your bear spray!) and being a lone hiker, I decided not to risk it.

If you’ve made it down to Barrier Lake early enough (before 5 and on the weekend), you can drive back to the Barrier Lake turnoff and enjoy one of our boat rentals—canoe, kayak or SUP. If it’s too late or you’re just exhausted, go back to the lake and relax on the beach as you admire the scenery.

Happy hiking!

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Do I need a reservation?
While reservations are not necessary all the time, we do advise making them as we frequently book all of our gear out in a day. With a reservation, you will know that your gear is here waiting for you. Payment is taken in full when the reservation is made.
How do I rent gear?
Come into the shop and fill out waiver; we will then take a credit card imprint (Visa and Mastercard accepted) as a damage deposit until you return with the gear, at which point we will check it over and then you may pay for your rental with credit, debit or cash.
Do I need bear spray?
If you are going to be hiking, walking, biking, running, camping, or pretty much anything else outside in Kananaskis, you should definitely carry bear spray. We do. It's more effective than a gun, and doesn’t require a special permit to carry.
What kind of tours do you offer?
We offer hiking, mountain biking, stargazing, snowshoeing, canoeing (and voyageur canoeing) tours as well as XC ski and stand up paddleboard lessons.
Can I book a private tour?
Any of our activities can be booked for a private group. Click here for more information.
What if I have a big group?
We regularly host large corporate or family groups; we can book individual activities for you or we can plan out a full day or multi-day adventure. Click here for more information, or give us a call: +1-403-591-7000.
Are there trails near you?
On foot, you can access mountain biking, hiking, XC skiing and snowshoe trails from our shop (season dependant). If you want to drive, then the options in Kananaskis are endless.
How do I rent a canoe/kayak/SUP?
During peak Summer season, we offer lakeside rentals at Barrier Lake. Hourly rates are in effect when a staff memer is present. During this time boats can not be reserved they are rented on a first come first served basis.

During quieter times, the boats will still be located at Barrier Lake, however you will need to come to the shop to fill out waivers and pick up the safety gear. Gear will also need to be returned to the shop when you are finished. For self serve boat rentals, full day rental rates apply and reservations are possible.

Paddles, PFDs and safety kit are included in the rental rate. Should you need to transport a boat, tie down kits are also available.
Do you rent downhill or touring equipment?
No, sorry we just rent XC skis.

Nakiska is a great place to rent downhill ski stuff. Go to Gear Up in Canmore or MEC in Calgary for touring gear.
Can we take the gear that we rent somewhere else?
Yes, you may transport the gear elsewhere as long as you can do so safely. We have tie down kits available for boats. Ask about our multi-day prices.
When do you sell off your used rental gear?
At the end of every season, we sell off select gear. So in the Fall, we sell off bicycles, in the Spring we sell off fat bikes, XC skis, and snowshoes, etc. Want to know all the details and get notified when the sale is happening? Join our email list. Sign up on our home page.
Where can I buy groceries, firewood, propane, etc.?
Some groceries and camping supplies can be bought at the Mt. Kidd Campers Centre, or at Fortress Gas Station. Hours are seasonal, call before you go.
Where is the closest gas station/liquor?
Fortress Gas Station (20 km south on Highway 40) is the closest place for gas and liquor/beer, although offsale beer is also available at Woody’s Pub at the Delta Lodge at Kananaskis.
Are there lakes near you?
Yes; Barrier Lake is about a 15 minute drive north on Hwy 40 and is where we keep our boats for summer rental. There is also Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lake a 40 minute drive South on Highway 40 in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.
Can I bring my dog?
Dogs must be on a leash at all times in Kananaskis; dogs are allowed on all trails except groomed cross country ski trails. If you are confident paddling with your dog you are welcome to do so at your own risk.

Dogs can be brought on tours only it all of the other participants on the tour are agreeable. We can not determine this until right before the tour departs.
What is the meaning of life?
We’re still trying to figure that out, but Kananaskis is a great place to look for it. No wait…it's 42.