Trailhead: Park next to the #66 highway 200ms past Elbow Falls 35 minutes west of Calgary Alberta. During the winter highway closure, park on the north side of the highway opposite the Elbow Falls entrance.
Description: Locate the trail junction next to the east side of Prairie Creek. This is the original designated trailhead. Over the years inexperienced individuals have been cutting new trails above the road where users park in the winter. Locate the official trailhead described above and follow it up a few hundred meters until you see an offshoot to your left heading towards the first ridge.
Work your way past the south halfway view point then a few steep sections ending at the start of the final ridge. Enjoy the open views along the ridge for another 10 minutes or so until you reach the summit and a large cairn. Your efforts will be rewarded with nice views of Moose Mountain, Mount Glasgow, Mount Cornwall, Outlaw Peak and Banded Peak. The summit also offers a classic transitional view of prairies to foothills to mountains with the city of Calgary visible on the eastern horizon.
You can also see the entrance to Moose Mountain Ice Cave when looking north towards the valley below. Don’t try to descend the northeast valley towards Moose Mountain, there is a surrounding cliff band near the bottom. Descending the northwest side is possible by following the ridge a short distance then dropping down on a marked trail west towards Prairie Creek. This route will add another 40 minutes on your return.
Prairie Mountain is a perfect year round hike for keeping your summer legs in shape. Due to it’s close proximity to Calgary the trail can be very crowded.