Fullerton Loop – March of the Poms

On Sunday we were to meet a group to hike the Fullerton Loop trail in the Elbow River Valley of K-country. The meeting point was in the Allen Bill Pond day use area parking lot. We didn’t realize that there was current construction and some new traffic lights on Highway 8, so unfortunately we arrived at the meeting spot a couple minutes late. But just in time to see the last person in the group go out of sight on the trail.

Allen Bill Pond day use, Fullerton Loop and Elbow Falls annotated with yellow stars. Map from http://www.albertaparks.ca

No worries we thought, we can hustle, and with it being a larger hiking group, all with dogs, we should be able to catch up to the back. CB and Kona are pretty good walkers and can easily keep up with our pace. So we started off on Elbow Trail from the east end of the parking lot. Not far on Fullerton Loop Trail you have a choice. Go left or go right. We chose right. The group chose left. We discovered this after about a half an hour of an all-out assault on the trail; we came upon a couple that had left before the big group, and no, they hadn’t seen them come this way.

Once we realized we were going to be meeting the group somewhere along the trail, we slowed down to a more comfortable pace and I was able to take some photos of the dogs and the lovely fall leaves.

This is a heavily treed trail but there are two look out points and just as we got to the first lookout going counter clockwise on the trail we finally came upon the group. We didn’t linger long and joined them on the return instead of continuing along the west arm of the trail.

From the parking lot and back the hike is approximately 7kms with 200 m of elevation gain. We left the parking lot at about 9:38am and we were back at 11:10am. Pretty quick and well under the three hours that was planned for the hike. Overall this is an easy hike with good terrain (hard-pack dirt) for the dogs and can be done quickly in a time crunch. It’s a busier trail on weekends but I don’t think that’s a bad thing when the bears are still fattening up for the winter.

Since we were done so early we decided to visit Elbow falls to eat our lunch and take some pictures. I had rented a Canon EF 15-85mm lens for the weekend and thought this would be a good spot to test it out since I didn’t get very good views on Fullerton Loop.  I’m looking to upgrade the kit lens that came with my Canon Rebel now that I’ve been using the telephoto I bought in the spring. The Canon EF 15-85mm is a little heavier than my lens but I was immediately much happier with the quality of photos it was taking.

I just love coming to the Falls but this place is super busy on nice days no matter the time of year. Sunday was no exception and the trails around the falls were loaded with people.

The most interesting thing about this area is that just on the south side of the Elbow River is the McLean Creek off-road recreational area. It’s so neat to see the quadders and dirt bikers hanging out on the rocks of the falls, seemingly so close that you could almost reach out to shake hands. I almost felt like I was spying on family time while testing out the zoom on my rented lens. From the photo’s I took it looks like we weren’t the only ones to have great time out in the Elbow Valley.

Every time I come out this way I always say to myself that I need to come out here more. It’s so close to the city and you really can be out and back in a few hours depending on what trail you choose to do. A bonus is that the weather this fall has been amazing so far; hope it stays that way at least for a few more weeks.
*  For more information on the trails in the Bragg Creek/Elbow Valley area of Kananaskis Country check out the Alberta Parks website. You’ll find out which trails allow bikes and horses and which are for hikers only including information on distances, trail difficulty and estimated hiking time. Dogs are allowed on-leash on all the trails in the Provincial Park. Don’t forget that bear’s frequent this area so make sure to come prepared.


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