Mount Lady Macdonald
Time: 6 - 8 hours
Distance: 10 km
Elevation Gain: 1300 metres
Access: Easy parking at Cougar Creek in Canmore. From here the trail start is very obvious, just head north past the Cougar information signs.
Lady Mac took me by surprise! It’s a hike commonly talked about in the Bow Valley and offers some stunning views however it isn’t for everyone! This trail has some seriously steep sections gaining over 1300 metres in elevation in around 5 km and ends with some of the most exposed hiking I’ve ever done. To reach the true summit you’ll need to be experienced, careful and brave.
Once you’ve followed the trail partly down Cougar Creek you’ll see the path head off to the left, here the incline starts! The trail is very easy to follow however there is the odd off shoot but all lead back to the same place.
You’ll start off in the woods getting a solid work out with all the elevation. Once you’re above the tree line you’ll come to the Heli Pad, a wooden structure overlooking the town of Canmore below and a great spot for a rest and snack, a lot of people call it a day at this point. Whilst you relax and take in the views you’ll be able to get a good idea of what you’re in store for. The elevation increase kicks up a notch yet again with some steep scree and rock to ascend to make it to the start of the ridge line.
Once at the top of the ridge line the view really opens up giving expansive vistas of the town below as well as mountains and ridges to the north, this is your last chance to turn back and I wouldn’t blame you if you did!
The true summit is at the end of a very exposed ridge line walk with plummeting drop aways. You’ll need great balance and nerve to negotiate the narrow and steep path. The views at the summit are very similar to the start of the ridge line but sometimes you just feel like you have to get to that highest point! To complete the ridge line you’ll need good, supportive boots and need to use your hands to climb and balance. If you have a fear of heights this last section really isn’t for you!