Conrad Kain And The Bugaboos
Time: 5 hrs to the hut and back - 2.5 each way.
Distance: 9 Km return to the hut and back.
Elevation Gain: 700 metres to the hut.
Access: At the start of the trail there is a car park, here you'll have to guard your car with barbed wire, rocks and logs to stop any porcupines chewing up your car when you're on the hike, getting to the car park is a little complicated! From Banff you drive towards Radium Hot Springs at which point you'll need to head north on the 95 until you take a left on to Brisco Road. Keep following this road until it forks, at this point take the left hand road called Bugaboo Peak Road, you can follow this all the way to the start of trail head. You'll have to drive a good 40 km of old logging road full of pot holes so be prepared for a bumpy ride.
Conrad Kain has to be one of the most scenic ACC huts available, for a short 2.5 hour hike you are surrounded by glaciers, mountain peaks and jaw dropping views. It's situated in the Bugaboo Provincial Park in the Purcell Mountains and named after the pioneering explorer that first visited the area in 1910.
The first part of the trail is a relaxed stroll through the valley, you'll have a tree lined path with little elevation gain, always a great way to start a hike! Once you've cleared the trees you're instantly rewarded with views of towering peaks and ancient glaciers as you make your way through the valley. From here it's a thrilling hike where you'll navigate chains, carved out stone steps, bridges and ladders.
As you ascend you'll start to get an idea of where you'll be sleeping, the hut sits perfectly framed by incredibly glaciers and water falls. The hut is fully equipped with comfortable sleeping mats and full kitchen facilities. The bedroom even has a glacier view, which in my opinion, beats an ocean view any day of the week!
Applebee Campground: The Bugaboos is a climbing haven, with endless peaks to concur climbers spend the whole summer camped out here working on projects. However if you aren't in to climbing yourself the campground is still worth a visit, from your tent pitch you are treated to endless vistas of layered ridge lines. Even the tarn, used for drinking water, offers a scenic treat surrounded by ice and snow. The elevation gain from the hut to the campground is around 230 metres over 1 Km so it is steep but well worth it.
Hiking to the Conrad Kain Hut is a must in my book, it's a lesser frequented area than that of Banff national park and it feels like more of an adventure. There are few hikes where you get to see such incredible scenery for such little effort.