Last weekend John and I hadn’t planned to do the Fullerton Loop hike in Kananaskis Country. But we messed up somewhere and missed the turnoff to the Sugar Momma hike by 100 metres – our original goal. Fortunately the Fullerton Loop was an excellent alternative. And it’s close to Calgary with the trailhead at most an hour’s drive away. Bragg Creek is only 10 minutes away.
John and I have passed the turnoff to the Bill Allen parking lot (where the trailhead is located) at least 20 times and have never given it more than a quick glance, especially as there are no big mountains nearby. But we were looking for a mellow hike – one that wasn’t going to take the whole day and I’d read that Sugar Momma was a great choice. Our other goal was to cut down a Christmas tree, something you’re allowed to do in the area with a permit. (You can cut three Charlie Brown Christmas trees no more than 7 feet tall with a $5.25 permit.)
The Elbow Trail takes off from the Allen Bill parking lot just before a couple of buildings. It will take you to the intersection with the Fullerton Loop. This part is all pretty darned obvious and there is signage. The initial walking is on an easy grade but because it’s mostly in the valley, it’s icy in December. You can get by without icers but I found myself taking them off and putting them back on again numerous times.
After about a kilometre you cross a bridge and continue to the intersection pictured below. Don’t head towards any trails signed for Snagmore if you’re committed to the Fullerton Loop. You can hike the Fullerton Loop in either direction. We went right because we thought we were on Sugar Momma. It turned out to be a good decision as we caught wonderful light coming down the ridge at the end of the hike. (To reach Sugar Momma continue 100 metres towards Snagmore and then turn left. Now we know.)
We got to a signed intersection about three kilometres into the hike. It wasn’t until then we realized we weren’t on Sugar Momma. I was looking for more than a 6.7 kilometre return hike so we opted to add in an out and back hike along the Bobcat Trail to reach the intersection of the Ranger Summit – Strange Brew trails. That increased our mileage for the day by 4.2 kilomteres.
A year ago almost to the weekend we had snowshoed a loop coming in from the West Bragg Creek side that took us to the same trail intersection. Conditions couldn’t be more different from one year to the next – snowy trails versus dry, dusty trails.
We gained a significant amount of elevation but because it was gradual I never felt myself breathing hard. The descent turned out to be quick and easy, except along the ridge. What slowed us down was the beauty of the setting sun – and the only thing that kept us moving was the thought of cutting a Christmas tree down in the dark.
You can knock off the 6.7 kilometre Fullerton Loop hike in a couple of hours. In total we ended up doing closer to 12 kilometres with add-ons – so we took about 3.5 hours. There are lots of permutations to the loop if you want a longer day.
In a normal December this would be an awesome trail to snowshoe. The Fullerton Loop is a family-friendly outing and would be a perfect activity over the Christmas holidays.
Look for the Bill Allen trailhead on Highway 66, 13.4 kilometres past the four way intersection in Bragg Creek.