Historical Significance · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
The trailhead is the access road to the fire tower. The road is gated to cars, so when parking, do not block the gate. The road is intended for emergency vehicles.
Need to Know
Bear spray and bells need to be carried, especially if bear sightings have been made. The tower-keeper has a vault toilet at the top, but otherwise there are no facilities. Please park to the side of the turnoff and leave space for vehicles to pass through. Several rangers mentioned that to us in advance.
The trail starts with a short downhill to cross the bridge at Pocaterra Creek. At about 0.4 miles it joins Pocaterra Trail, a mixed running/mountain biking trail. Follow the trail to the left and begin a relatively gentle upward climb. Traveling in late summer and early fall, there are sure to be bears in the woods getting ready for winter, so bring bear spray and make some noise on the trail. Our group sounded like a circus parade, so we had no animal sightings but fresh scat and paw prints were all along the trail.
After another 1.5 miles another trail (Whiskey Jack) joins from the right. It also is a mixed-use trail that leads to several campgrounds about 4.5 miles west near Lower Kananasakis Lake. Once again, stay to the left. In about 0.4 miles the trail comes to its last junction with the Tyrwhitt Trail heading left and the Firetower Trail to the right.
There is no problem following the correct trail if you simply follow the fire road. Continuing from the junction, the trail gets significantly steeper and the forest closes around you. Stop periodically as you ascend this portion for views through the trees or back along the trail to see the mountains and valleys to the north and west. The forest clears at about 1.7 miles from the Tyrwhitt Trail junction and views open up in all directions.
The firetower is directly ahead, a relatively short building for a firetower, but with a 360-degree sweeping view across the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes, the continental divide to the south, and peaks to the east. The tower is manned full-time in the summer and Joe the tower-keeper invited us and a mountain biking couple to see the operation and take photos from the tower. He has a small hothouse garden, elegant outhouse, and picnic table for visitors. According to Joe, the lightning storms can be awesome, the wind ferocious, the visibility zero. But not the day we were there. We stayed and photographed for an hour, had lunch, and reversed course down the trail.
Flora & Fauna
Certainly be prepared for bear encounters on this run. We made enough noise that we didn't see other animal wildlife. Flowers line the trail and the entire mountaintop was covered with an assortment of flowers.
Shared By: Greg Vassmer