Mountains look better with snow. Now that we have agreed we can talk about exploring them when they have snow aka winter time.

For winter hikes the key is to wear layers as you don’t want to breakout in a sweat by adjusting what you are wearing. Make sure you wear wind proof clothes including pants. Good winter cold rated boots, and cleats is the last main point. Be insulated from elements head to toe.

Getting There

This hike goes by a few names but commonly known as the Yates Mountain via Prairie View trail. Getting here is fairly simple: it’s just a 5-7 min drive on highway 40th off highway 1. Take a right into Barrier Lake Dam, and park anywhere as it fills up quick most of the year.

Google actually has this place correct, and also comes up under Prairie View trail. Just remember shortly after turning down highway 40 you will lose reception so save the maps that you think you will need.

Let’s get you here:

The Hike

Yates Mountain hike is great for summer, winter, sunrise, and sunset – in other words; it’s an overachiever. It is a well travelled hike which makes it most advantages for winter time as you don’t need any additional special gear. Unless you get a fresh dump of snow the hike can be done in just boots or even trail run it.

Once you park follow the path on the dam that goes around Barrier Lake, and into the woods. This part is your first kilometer, and is very exposed to the elements. In particular wind. Super strong wind gusts are common in this area especially during the warmer times when Chinooks come through. As noted above make sure you have wind proof gear. On our way back we got blasted here by insane wind!

Within a short walk in the woods you will come across a fork. There are a few loops in the area so just remember you are doing the Prairie View trail to Yates Mountain. The little sign doesn’t have Yates marked on it but as you climbing onto a mountain you want to take the trail up (your left).

The hike continues with a is a series of long switchbacks spreading the elevation nicely up the mountain ridge surrounded by the forest. You won’t get scenic opening until you get to the top.

Eventually the first scenic opening will appear looking back at the valley with the Barrier Lake, and I believe, Mount Baldy as a magnificent background. It’s a pretty dramatic view, and depends on the weather conditions or time of the day you do this hike it can even be more dramatic. Remember the wind I was telling you about? Look at the snow gusts glowing in the sun on that mountain!

Winter time this the vastest view point on the Yates Mountain trail. If you have a zoom lens bring it, and see what you can capture down Kananaskis. After you are done clicking away take the path behind the one tree along the side of the ridge, and up the mountain. This is the last part of the hike but a fairly sketchy one (especially coming back). The snow here is deeper, and you have very steep parts but luckily it is very short. Just up this part is the end of the trail, and the final look out.

Please note: you can actually continue a little farther up to the Barrier Lake fire lookout but please only do so if you are experienced, and the weather permits. You will be fully exposed to the elements.

Distance: 13.5 km

Elevation: 700M

Difficulty: Moderate.

Time: 5-6 hours.

Season: All year round.

Dog Friendly: Yes.

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