Doug Eastcott describes this ride as # 51in his book Backcountry Biking the Canadian Rockies. This is a 43kM loop that consists of double track and a short section of single-track which can be ridden in either direction. This trail gets you back into some amazing back-country scenery that feels like you've travelled much further than you have. In the fall, the Larch trees light up the valley floor at the summit and other points along the trip.
It is difficult for length and 1000m of cumulative elevation gain (and loss) but not for technicality. The most technical aspects are the loose cobble and there is virtually no exposure to falling.
Most people we talked with prefer to ride in a counter-clockwise direction but we prefer to go clockwise and have tried both . In this direction you encounter the only real technical portion of the ride in the prior to the climb to the summit - therefore you still have strong legs.
The ride starts out following the valley floor and the Elbow River then slowly starts to climb up the side of the mountain where the path begins to wind with numerous ups and downs which can be seen on the track profile. The only real single-track technical section is encountered prior to the Y junction with the three point trail. Take the right fork and the climbing begins but from this direction the actual climb is only approximately 3kM before you reach the summit. The summit is a large flat field with a good double track running across the top and once across the summit, the downhill begins( 7km) on a good double track before reaching the valley floor. The remainder of the trail is predominately downhill following the river with a couple of minor hills to climb before reaching the gravel road at the Little Elbow campground.
Make sure you have a good set of tires given the numerous sharp rocks (yes we had a flat 11kM into the ride) and bring a good supply of water.
From Bragg Creek drive west on Highway 66 to the Little Elbow Recreation Area. Parking is provided near the campground where the trip log begins.
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Posted By: Kenwiens
- Mon Nov 03 21:19:04 UTC 2014
CommentDid it late in October (2014). We had about 15 cm of snow at the top, but considerably less on the approach. I prefer clockwise for the better views, but this time we did CCW due to the number of river crossings. We had 1 on the way in and 5 on the way out. The river was a bit chilly this time of year. The trail condition made this a much longer ride than previously. We did the last 3 hours in the dark. It is getting late in the season for this ride though. There is lots going on for trail repairs right now. I was there 1 week earlier, and repair work was just beginning, this time the rebuilding extended about 40 pct of the way in (going ccw). According to the cat operator, he would be rebuilding the trail all the way to the campground just past the top (he wasn't fixing the bridge though)
Posted By: Park2
- Sun Oct 20 00:48:10 UTC 2013
UpsideIt's still there after the 2013 floods.... well, most of it. DownsideThe Big Blue Bridge (6 km in when riding CCW) is gone, but you can probably ford the river safely in low water conditions. Other parts of the trail are heavily eroded and require some more careful riding. Should be some new pictures attached. CommentNot as much fun as it used to be unfortunately. Please volunteer for a trail build day with CMBA, MMBTS, Friends of Kananaskis or similar group to help get our backcountry back.
Posted By: Hjmiller243
- Mon Sep 24 04:42:04 UTC 2012
UpsideGreat Views. Not too technical but a ton of fun coming down. DownsideThe push from Tombstone campground .to the top of the pass. CommentI've done this loop both ways and prefer counter clockwise. As an older more careful rider, I generally don't take too many risks but blasting down from the top of the pass to Romulus campground is awesome!
Posted By: Park2
- Mon Oct 24 14:20:42 UTC 2011
UpsideNice open scenery, nice long ride do-able by most riders. DownsideSnow in October. Lots of it. CommentDo it in the fall, maybe not after mid-October though.