A mild winter + early spring = shoulder season hike! Fullerton Loop is a gentle trail that is great for families with wonderful views of the Elbow Valley. It’s a relatively easy hike (especially for non-hikers like myself).
The 2013 floods did some pretty big damage to the access trail. You used to park next to the river and walk underneath the Highway 66 bridge to get to the loop. Now you park on the other side of the highway closer to the Alberta Parks offices and follow the path to the Fullerton Loop trail head. As it was still early days for a hike in March, we brought yak trax grippers with us in case of snow and ice and they came in pretty handy for an icy uphill climb in some sections. The access trail was also muddy as all heck; I’m talking four to six inches of mud at any given point, that really squishy, wet kind of mud. It always surprises me to see people in improper footwear trying to do a hike. On this day, a girl wearing Toms sneakers was making her way back from the mudpit as she clearly couldn’t get to the loop, let alone through the mud.
Once you get onto Fullerton Loop there are two directions you can take: one way takes you directly to the Elbow Valley ridge (clockwise), the other is a more gradual climb through the eastern forest that will eventually get you to the ridge (counterclockwise). We chose to go the long way around by starting up the valley behind. I like my hikes to provide a “reward” at the end of the trek rather than give up all the goods in the beginning. In going this route, you will end up with scenic views for the last section of the hike. It’s a nice payoff after working your butt off to gain elevation and hike a fair distance before you have to turn around and head back. Luckily, beyond the access trail, the rest of the hike was very dry which bodes well for great hikes around the area all season.
- Overall, this Kananaskis hiking trail is a great for beginners to get started with or for the first hike of the season to get your legs under you.
- Distance: 6.8 km return (the loop itself is 4 km, but the access trail adds to the distance) will take about 2 hours to complete. Plan in a lunch break to take in the nice views on the ridge!
- Only an hour outside of Calgary near Bragg Creek so it’s quick to access and complete in a half-day trip.
- The trail is open year-round so can make for a great winter hike near Calgary.
- Maps and more info can be found on the Alberta Parks website.
Check out my pictures below for my Fullerton Loop experience. What’s your favourite hiking spot? Comment below or send me a tweet at @heyseto.