Little Lougheed Summit

June 19, 2022

I have a rule. I must hike for at least as long as I drive. As it’s a four hour round trip drive to Spray Lakes, this has kept me from doing Little Lougheed as the distance/elevation wasn’t worth the drive. However, as my buddy Erin had it on her “list” that we’d been working through, I finally decided to go for it. As we played around in the rock garden, and then had a leisurely summit lounge enjoying the view of Mount Lougheed, total time turned out to equal driving time. Win – win!

Little Lougheed as seen from the Smith Dorien is the sharp point in the middle. While this makes the summit ridge look intimidating, it’s actually a lovely hike to the ridge. Like Reed’s Tower, Little Lougheed is an outcrop of the much large mountain behind it – namely Mount Lougheed on the left. Mount Sparrowhawk is behind, with its head in the clouds.

Little Lougheed is a popular winter destination, however I think the summer route is excellent fun as we could enjoy the otherwise buried rock garden. I did make one lucky navigation choice that got us off the rock garden and onto the main trail at just the exact moment I needed it. Luck or experience??? Once above the rock garden, it’s a straight-forward hike to the summit. The views are absolutely incredible at the summit and during the ascent. I’m so glad we had the visibility that we did.

Gear

Hiking boots, poles and regular day pack kit.

If going in the winter, add in gaiters and microspikes. I’ve not done this in the winter so don’t have a read on all the winter hazards. Be aware of the open slope to the summit. Being swept down into the trees, or off to climber’s right into the creek drainage would both be brutal.

Overview

From the highway, hike up the trail. Turn left at the High Rockies Trail, then right to access the Little Lougheed trail. Head straight up, passing the boulder field, another forest section, and the final scree to the summit. Return the same way.

Here’s a short video of the Little Lougheed summt.

Erin and I had a great day on Little Lougheed.

Totals – Downloadable Tracks on Gaia, Displayed on Strava

Date: June 19, 2022
Group:  Two (Alisen and Erin)
Distance:  5.6  km
Elevation:  745 m (2,459β€²)
Time:  4 hours 0 minutes (includes rock hopping and summit lounge)

Little Lougheed is a straight shot up the mountain with nary a switchback, but it is full of rock surprises and amazing views all the way up and back.
For a short summit, the elevation gain is sustained to the top. There is a short flat ridge at the top, ideal for taking in the view.

Parking and Trail Head

The Trailhead is 1.5 km north of the Mount Sparrowhawk/Reed’s Tower day use area. It is 2.75 km south of the wide West Wind Pass pull out. Look for the yellow direction sign on the east side of the road, just north of the wide creek basin.

There is no real pull out for Little Lougheed. Do pull over as far as you can. The trail head is just south of the yellow traffic sign. The creek washout is just to the right in the photo.

Main Trail

From the Smith Dorrien highway, start hiking up the trail. It’s a lovely forest walk for the first bit. As it was a really late spring, I was careful to pick dry routes. I was then surprised to see the trail was running with water, with parts of the trail blocked with yellow tape. The mystery was soon solved.

The trail winds through a moss forest to start.
Soon the trail was washed out, and was blocked by yellow tape.
Mystery solved! There is a high water spring bubbling up. This must only flow during high water from the adjacent creek. One more reason to visit Little Lougheed in the spring.

Once past the bubbling spring, we crossed a little bridge to access the High Rockies Trail heading north (left).

Around 800 m from the trail head, I found the trail to Little Lougheed on the right.

The trail to Little Lougheed is not marked. It’s on the right (east) side of the High Rockies Trail, and could be easily missed.

Once on the main Little Lougheed trail, it’s a straight up effort through the trees.

Various bits of flagging on the trees, which would be helpful for winter navigation.

About 400 m up from the High Rockies Trail, we hit the rock garden. I was SO happy to see this as it brightened up an otherwise typical K Country forest hike. We decided to explore a bit, and headed off to climber’s left, following whatever struck as a good way up.

To AVOID this, stay to the far right of the bolder field, next to the forest. Especially in winter, I imagine most people stick to the trail beside the boulders to avoid slipping between the rocks and getting injured. I came down this way, and it is just fine.

Your choice! Go left to enter the rock garden and find your own route, or stay right and follow the well defined trail. Or make a loop like I did – up through the boulders, and down on the main trail.
Erin at the base of the rock garden. So beautiful. The boulders were big, steady and grippy.
Just some of the big rocks in this rock garden. For me, it’s just as important to enjoy the scenery and poke around off the beaten path. It’s not just about tagging the summit and getting the best time. Especially on a short summit like this, it’s important to enjoy every little bit.

I saw a fun rock arch. We decided to go through it, and scramble up the inside. This was the stroke of good luck, as the top of this popped us out onto the main trail, exactly at the spot where I most needed to reconnect with the trail.

I was making my way straight up when I saw this rock arch. Who could resist?
The route is to the left. The rocks scrambling up to the top were loose, and we had to take care. Erin had to stay well back until I was up and through to avoid any potential rock fall. Photo Credit: Erin Bailey.

Once on top of the rock arch, I realized that we had more or less popped out on the trail. From here, we followed a trail through small boulders. We went past a couple sizable rock pinnacles, and then re-entered the forest for a bit.

The top of the arch lead to this ridge walk. Ahead, we got our first view of the summit of Little Lougheed – left side, with small ramp.
Back on the trail, we got amazing views of the col between Wind Mountain (left) and Mount Sparrowhawk (right). Mount Lougheed is further left.
Erin making her way up the trail. Still lots of rocks, with a wee bit of hands on action.
Passing the major rock pinnacles. Pretty darn impressive! Photo credit: Erin Bailey.

Once above the rock pinnacles, the trail turned into the forest for a bit.

The trail through the forest was a nice reprieve from the sun. We started early and were the first ones up, but it was still getting quite warm.
Gorgeous rocky ridge. It’s important to stay high on the descent from the scree above, and not be tempted to head straight down. Missing this and getting below the ridge would not be ideal.

Once we left the forest, we had the obligatory scree slog to the summit. I was pleasantly surprised by how little scree there was to hike, and by how little it sucked. It was actually an enjoyable hike to the summit ridge.

Representative sample of the scree to the summit. A couple of rock bands to get up.

The summit of Little Lougheed was absolutely amazing. It’s not often that I want to summit lounge, but this little mountain really did encourage it. The views of Mount Lougheed were awe inspiring. I just couldn’t stop looking at this massive mountain. It really is impressive. We were up there so long, that as we were leaving, a couple came up and said they saw us ascending, and then wondered what happened to us because we didn’t come back down. I encouraged them to lounge as well.

Time to summit was 2 hours and 10 minutes. Distance was just shy of 3 km, with an elevation gain of 745 m.

Mount Lougheed on the right, and Lougheed 1 on the left.
Mount Lougheed, Wind Mountain (back centre), and Mount Sparrowhawk (right).
Old Goat Mountain, and Mount Nestor to the left.
Wind Tower (right), West Wind Pass (col), and The Rimwall.

Little Lougheed Return

After a good lunch and summit lounge, Erin and I booked it down the trail. After the scree and forest section, I was careful to stay on the main trail, and to go skier’s left to stay on the trail and not wander back down into the rock garden. This proved to be easy, as the trail is beaten in fairly well. What was a meander on the way up, was a fast scoot on the way down.

Below the scree and trees, this marks the start of the descent through the lower rocks and boulders.
Above the pinnacles. We stayed left, on the trail, for the descent.
The descent on the main trail (skier’s left, climber’s right) was a quick and steep way down, but not nearly as pretty as the ascent through the boulder field.
Almost back to the start of the trail, we saw this bridge. We turned right here to head back to our car. Going straight across the bridge is a continuation of the High Rockies Trail.

To be perfectly honest, I thought Little Lougheed would be a typical Kananaskis summit with not much in the way of beauty or exciting terrain. I absolutely loved this trail. The views were epic and the trail was as exciting as you wanted it to be.

Thanks for reading! Please do me a huge favour and click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, join my FaceBook page Al’s Adventurers, or follow me on Instagram

Alisen

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Posted in Adventures, Scrambling
17 comments on “Little Lougheed Summit
  1. Diana says:

    Those views 😍 Looks well worth the long drive, even if it was a slightly shorter hike. (I have the same rule… but sometimes you just have to make an exception.)

    • alisendopf says:

      You’re absolutely right – rules are meant to be broken πŸ™‚ Now I have to figure out a way to summit the actual Mount Lougheed. It’s an intimidating mountain, for sure.

  2. wonderful

    β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺ
    β–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«β–ͺβ—Ύβ—Όβ—Ύβ–ͺβ–«β—½β—»β—½β–«

  3. jacekkrolikowski says:

    Great trip and video (music too)!
    While reading your trip report I realized the trail looks familiar. I checked my saved tracks and, yes, we were there on July 10th 2022, we almost bumped into each other πŸ™‚
    This is a nice trail, it gets you in little time, from highway level to the alpine environment.

  4. That is a good rule. You might as well make the hike worth the drive. This looks like an adventurous trail, especially as you got to explore the rock garden. The views from the summit look stunning.

  5. #hhhigh says:

    And another enjoyable Hike Done and memories. Unforgettable – bloody good.

  6. markbierman says:

    Looks like a beautiful place! Thanks for sharing your experiences. πŸ™‚

  7. looks awesome.. thanks for the hike.. I’m had butt in chair or running after contractors and clients for 4 days but I’m getting out now that you’ve inspired me. πŸŽ„β£οΈ

    • alisendopf says:

      Oh, I know all about Butt in Chair life. Sigh… It’s been -30 for DAYS and I’m going stir crazy. It’s now a balmy -25 and that is looking SO good right about now πŸ™‚

      • Widdershins says:

        Heh, I knew I’d started to adjust to living here in Prince George when the temps rose from -40’s to -10’s after that nasty arctic outflow we just had, and I was quite comfortable going out in such ‘mild’ weather! πŸ˜€

      • alisendopf says:

        -40…. good lord… πŸ™‚ People just don’t realize how cold that really is! I wish it would stay a nice even -10 to -15 all winter long. Is that too much to ask??? πŸ™‚

      • Widdershins says:

        I’ve discovered I don’t mind it being that cold, it’s how quickly the temperature shifts that gets me in ‘me arthriticals’, ie my joints. πŸ˜€ … and unfortunately, that seems to be how our weather systems are shaping up in these ‘interesting times.

  8. β„πŸ§Šβ›„πŸŒΏπŸŽ„πŸ•―πŸ€πŸ•ŠπŸŽπŸŽ‰πŸ₯‚βœ¨

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