Time and distance are for a round trip. Elevation gain ~1,500'.
The Indefatigable Trail in Kananaskis Country is one of those must-do hikes with probably the best views in the park. Having said that, the park has de-commissioned this very popular trail from its official trails list. The reasons cited are the frequency of bear-related trail closures and the fact that the trail is quickly becoming eroded.
Both are valid reasons. By August of every year, the trail is usually closed due to bear activity. And the trail is widening every year. Why? Because it is a reasonably steep trail with lots of rubble over hard packed earth or rock - much like ball bearings on a slope. Thus many hikers have taken to walking beside the trail, wider and wider to avoid slipping. But if you are careful, you should have no problems with this trail.
As a testament to the popularity of this trail, there used to be 2 benches, one at the midpoint and one at the end of the trail so that hikers could either rest or just sit and admire the view. As part of the decommissioning of the trail, these have been removed. The trail sign has also been removed and replaced with a small pile of boulders.
The trail starts off in nice, cool forest but soon gains steepness as it turns to a more gravelly surface. From then it's pretty much straight up. Just take your time and you will be rewarded with fantastic views. If you're not really sure-footed and don't like the ball bearings (we call them 'rollers'), allow as much time coming down as going up.
Because there are no more warnings posted (because it's not an official trail anymore), you should check at the visitor centre for bear activity.
And where did that name come from? Mt Indefatigable was named to commemorate a WW1 battleship of the same name.
The trail starts at the Interlakes parking area (at Upper Kananaskis Lake). Walk across the dam and about 100 metres along the lakeshore trail you will see the pile of boulders and the trail to your right.
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Posted By: ChrisMarry
- Mon Sep 02 18:30:25 EDT 2013
UpsideExcellent workout with steep 920 m elevation gain in 3.3 km up South ridge. Superb views of the lakes around, meadows, etc. Overall from parking, around 7.4 km return hike.
*** 3rd time I did it this summer, finally completed ascent on North peak + ridge to South summit, WOW! Great challenge and beautiful ridge walk!
DownsideErosion, true. North summit can be tricky if you try to scramble it on the ridge, loose rocks and scree.
*** "Deadly" exposure and difficult hands on scramble with loose rocks and bad grips. Take your time if you do the complete loop. I personally would rate that scramble as difficult.
CommentWe did it 2 times in the last 2 weeks. We tried North summit by going through the meadows and then went for a scramble on the ridge. It was tricky, loose rocks, no good grips at a certain point, we stopped at around 75 m from the peak.
Second time, South summit return. It's very steep and challenging, but scramble is easy with mostly no exposure, except few metres before reaching the scree and on the ridge just before you get to the big cairn.
I then tried to go all over the ridge from South to North summit, but I turned back when I had a less than a feet large ridge to walk on... Other (only one maybe) option was to walk around West side of it, I didn't feel comfortable at that point, with scree and total exposure. I'll do it again from North to South and try this complete loop and ridge walk next time, but with a more experienced scrambler than me, so I can get some tips and help on route finding at some points on the North and the complete ridge at the top.
TO GO UP SOUTH, take your first left in the second forest portion of the trail, after you walked the first ridge soon in your hike. This path is not obvious when going up, but it's just few metres after you regained the forest.
*** 3rd time: loop, 9 km return. If you want to try the loop, do it North to South, you will then get rid of the bad grips scramble on the way up. Ridge walk can be extremely exposed sometimes, but it's much often better to stay on the ridge with solid feet and some hands on than taking some trails beside the ridge with complete exposure as well, slippery sections and no grip. Take your time to evaluate which path you are more comfortable with. HELMET is recommended on the North ascent, lots of scree and big rocks falling.
Posted By: mmlandry2
- Mon Aug 02 03:38:08 EDT 2010
CommentBrand new sign posted this week blocking the trailhead: Indefatigable decommissioned in 2005 because of Grizzly inhabitation. You can still go around the sign.. but maybe don't do it solo or without bear spray.
Trail can get quite busy, especially on summer weekends.
CommentThis is a MUST DO hike for anyone in the area. The views of Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes as well as the surrounding mountans are unparalleled and will have you reaching for your camera at every twist and turn.
The trail is moderate climbing all the way, but you still need to be careful and to watch your step.
Also note that there are 3 generations of Grizzly's living on the mountain so make certain to make plenty of noise and to stay together as a group.
Posted By: krusty01
- Sat Sep 05 13:07:51 EDT 2009
CommentWent to the Peter Lougheed visitor information centre, (would recomend stopping in if you have time or need info on the area). Talked to a parks officer and was told the trail is no longer listed as there are 3 generations of Grizzly's living on the mountain. He said if we still wanted to hike up to make plenty of noise and be no further than 4 meteres away from anyone else. Since we had smaller kids we dicided to bypass the hike this time around.
Posted By: mountain momma
- Sat Aug 08 14:24:05 EDT 2009
UpsideGreat views, great workout, can be done when you're short on time
CommentI think this is a great hike!
Posted By: iberard
- Mon Sep 29 00:11:23 EDT 2008
UpsideAbsolutely amazing views and an amazing workout.
DownsideSorry, cant say I found any downside to this spectacular hike/scramble.
CommentThis is the quickest way to obtain views that you would normally obtain after 3-4hrs of hiking.
Posted By: Xenko
- Sat Jul 19 22:10:27 EDT 2008
UpsideAmazing views and a great hike.
DownsideTrail erosion/small rocks makes it slippery at times. To reach the south peak you have to do some scrambling.
CommentI did the hike up to the south peak summit and back (you can see the red weather station from the parking lot), and I have to disagree with the time, elevation change, and difficulty when compared to what is outlined by the GPS route.
When looking at the GPS maps, the route described above only consists of the portion from the parking lot up to where the route forks, which is about a 3 hour round trip (only 2.5 km though), with 1500 ft elevation gain. After that, the left route goes to the south peak , continuing straight leads to the north peak, and they are connected by a "knife's edge" ridge (which should ONLY be attempted by experts as it is very VERY dangerous.)
Going to the top of the south peak requires some scrambling near the top, where the trail can be hard to distinguish. There are two blue plastic ribbons tied to rocks to indicate the general direction you need to hike/scramble as you reach the top. Past the second blue ribbon it is a fairly easy uphill hike to reach the top. The view is spectacular and well worth the trek!!
4 to 5 hours from the parking lot, to the south peak summit, and back down. ~900 meters (3,000 feet) of elevation gain. ~5 km round trip.
The north peak looks like an easier hike, and I'm hoping to try it next weekend.
Posted By: Mahone
- Wed Jul 09 13:21:31 EDT 2008
UpsideAmazing views almost all the way up! The decommisioning of the trail is sad but needed due to the facts below, but even a Blind guy could find their way carefully along the ridge. We never dip down to the tarn but swing West and climb right up the East facing sloped face towards the antennas on the top! In late Spring, you can slide down the avalanche chute, but be very carefull to make sure the Season is safe!!
DownsideNo real down side, unless you're going up on a busy weekend and hate following others.
CommentI've done this trip a few times, including snow shoeing up to tree line, always a great place for first timers to enjoy that part of K-Country.
Posted By: Bretan
- Tue Aug 07 21:09:43 EDT 2007
DownsideErosion of Trails, possibility of Bear Encounters, straight up hiking
CommentIf one is comfortable with some fairly high exposure scrambling, there is a loop around the summit ridge. Just as you hit the meadow near the top, head to the left and scramble up. In the spring there's usually snow in the bowl, and if you're wearing the right pants, you can tobbogan down the hill to the small tarn.