May 28, 2021
Fullerton Loop is the ideal hike for beginners and kids. It is mainly a lovely walk through a forest, with gently undulating slopes. There is one big hill that provides views to the surrounding mountains. Over the years, this trail has seen increased usage. You are never alone here, so it’s also a good hike for people going solo.
I hiked this with my Lake Louise Ski Friend team. This was our ‘wind up’ party. It allowed us to see each other, yet maintain distancing in an outdoor environment.
Trail Etiquette, Garbage and Dog Poop
As this is a beginner hike, and it can get really busy, I am including some trail etiquette.
When passing or overtaking someone going in the same direction, say “on your left/right” so the person ahead can move over to the side closest to the mountain. When passing, you take the side of the trail furthest away from the mountain.
The uphill hiker has the right of way. Please move over and let them pass.
Leave no trace means you MUST pack out absolutely everything! No littering of any kind. This includes toilet paper. Please use the outhouse at the trailhead prior to starting out. If you think you might need to pee along the way, bring a plastic baggie and put the used tissue in the bag. Carry it home and dispose of it there.
If you bring a dog, NO it is not a thing to bag up its poop and leave it on the side of the trail. Even worse, please do not hide the poop bag. If your dog poops, bag it up and take it with you. To reduce the smell, you can double-bag it. You can also bring an empty Nalgene water bottle, and carry the poop bag in there (no smell and no leaks).
While hiking Fullerton, we met this volunteer from Bragg Creek Trails. This organization maintains the trails in the Bragg Creek area, including picking up garbage left by hikers. See the giant bag he has? That’s all from Fullerton. Guess how many bags of poop he has picked up already this year? 105 bags of dog poop. And that is JUST him! And he JUST started with the spring trail clean up. CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR DOG AND BRING THE POOP BAG HOME AND DISPOSE OF IT PROPERLY.
Hiking shoes, poles, and your regular daypack kit. If you are new or a kid, sturdy running shoes with newer grips should be okay in dry weather. One of our group forgot his hiking boots, and he did just fine in Birkenstocks. Not that I’d recommend birks, but you know. In a pinch…
Want to keep your kids motivated or engaged? Here are a couple of ideas. I’ve hiked with my daughters since they were 3 years old. Trust me – these tricks work.
Activity 1: there are a plethora of bridges, gates and signs on this trail. Have your kids count how many of each they can find. They can take a photo of each bridge / gate, or they can tick them off on a piece of paper. Or just use their memory. This helps kids pay attention to their surroundings, especially if they are looking for signs and intersections.
Activity 2: have your kids run ahead to the next feature – gate, bridge, stairs, bench or intersection/sign. They MUST wait there for you. To ensure compliance, have them ‘hide’ at that feature. It’s now your job to pretend to not see them, so your kids can jump out and scare you. Act as scared or surprised as you can. This game allowed us to hike some pretty major mountains over the years.
From the trail head, follow the trail until you hit the Y junction. Go either way, depending on how you like to gain your elevation (explained below). Complete the loop, and return to the trail head.
Parking and Trail Head
There is a parking lot and washrooms at the Fullerton Loop trail head. There is also parking across the highway at the Allen Bill Pond day use area.
Pick up the trail just past the outhouses.
This is the Fullerton Loop Trail. It is super wide, with too many bridges and gates to show them all.
At 1 km, there is a junction. Keep LEFT to stay on the Fullerton trail. Going right will lead to Elbow Trail, that takes you back towards West Bragg Creek.
After another 300 meters you reach the Y Junction. You need to decide whether to go left up the stairs, or right through the forest.
LEFT: If you like to gain your elevation fast and early, then go left. This trail is in the open, so if it’s a hot day, you will bake. If it’s windy, you’ll get in the face. On the plus side, these are the only views to be had, so if you want to enjoy the view, then take this route.
RIGHT: If you like to gain your elevation slowly, and under the cover of trees (cooler), then go right. The downside is no views, except for when you purposely stop to have a look.
I chose to go right as we had a very strong and cold west wind that day. The following directions are for going right at the Y junction.
Continue on the trail for another 2 km (3.3 in total) to reach the high point. You will hike over some more bridges and through some more gates.
The high point is marked by a really old bench. After this, it is a nice stroll along the ridge. Views will come further down. There is another bench that marks the best view point.
From the highpoint, it’s time to start heading downhill. This is the part of the trail that is in the open. It gives good views, but is open to the elements of sun and wind. This section is quite steep and no switchbacks. Another reason why I like to go in this direction.
Keep going on this trail. It will magically take you back to the Y Junction. Go right to return to the trail head.
Fullerton Loop is a fun and easy hike that is ideal for beginners or kids. While the trail is 7.5 km, it only gains 192 m of elevation, which is like walking up the side of the Bow River valley in Calgary. This trail has a lot of bridges and gates to keep everyone entertained.
Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: May 28, 2021
Group: Nine (Lake Louise Ski Friends – Wednesday Team)
Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation: 192 m (633′)
Time: 2 hours (includes breaks)