Mount Yamnuska closing for upcoming season while crews upgrade paths

A popular Alberta hiking spot, Mount Yamnuska is closing for the season so trail crews can do some much needed improvements and restoration.

Alberta Parks will close the trail on May 21

Mount Yamnuska trailhead, located near the M.D. of Bighorn in southern Alberta, will be closed as crews make some repairs and additions to the trails. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Popular Alberta hiking spot Mount Yamnuska is closing for the season as trail crews do some much-needed improvements and restoration.

The site, located near the M.D. of Bighorn in southern Alberta, will be closed from May 21 to November this year, according to a notice on the Alberta Parks website.

During that time, there will be on-site upgrades to existing trails, construction for new sections and the decommissioning of non-sanctioned routes.

The mountain currently has a variety of trails that are hard to follow — some of which can lead to hikers getting lost and needing to be rescued by first responders.

Last summer, RCMP had to close the trail for a day after one fatality and several injuries occurred on a scree slope of the hike.

Andrew Wiens was at the trail this past Saturday and says improvements to the trail is a good thing.

"It's one of the closest points to Calgary so it's really accessible," he said. "I think a lot of people come here and maybe they aren't fully prepared."

He adds that that Mount Yamnuska is not a trail for beginners.

"I think it's one thing to be shutting it down and expanding the trails, but I think another thing would be to create awareness about what it actually takes to hike up it," he said.

"It's a pretty technical course up the back, actually. There's chains and stuff like that, and people don't know that."

Despite the complexity of the trail, it was still packed Saturday as hikers made a last go at the mountain before it closes.

Isabel Boisvert says she changed plans to fit in a hike before Yamnuska closes for the season.

"I had the map, so that was helpful. But there's a few spots where you can easily go off the trail and in a completely different direction."

She says there are a lot of spots where the trail is either worn down or will offshoot into the forest.

"I think kind of maintaining the one main trail will be really helpful and preserve the wildlife," she said.

Hikers climbed up Mount Yamnuska on Saturday before the trail closes down at the end of May. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Sean Guest likes to rock climb at the spot and while he is disappointed about the closure, he is excited that there will be one main route for climbers.

"There's lots of different climbs all along the face, different grades, but really, if there is one good trail to get up, that would be a lot better than everyone using multiple routes to get up," he said.

He also thinks more information about the hike at the trailhead would help.

"I think we just need a general education for people who are starting to come out to the mountains as to what the risks are, what you need to bring, how to be prepared for a day in the mountains," he said.

"There's too many people we saw last year kind of in flip flops, shorts and a t-shirt in summer. And, you know, they can get into a lot of trouble pretty quickly."

Have you ever hiked at Mount Yamnuska? Tell us what you think of the trail in the comments below!

With files from Helen Pike.