Albertawow

Elbow Loop Bike or Hike

  Ratings:    Ratings 4 Star
Level: Difficult Time/Dist: 6 to 8 hours / 42K return Elevation Gain: 650m

Trailhead: Park at the Little Elbow Campground or Forget Me Not Pond 40 minutes west of Calgary. Note Highway #66 is closed at Elbow Falls from Dec 1st to May 15th.

Description: Elbow Loop is considered one of the best Mountain Bike trails in the Canadian Rockies. Hikers would have to allow two days. Locate the trail distance west of the Little Elbow Campground parking lot. You can approach the loop in either direction with the right south west approach being the favorite. I'm not sure if one direction is easier than the other. Certainly makes for an interesting debate when you've completed the loop. From the Forget Me Not Pond parking lot follow the road towards Little Elbow campground for a short distance until you reach the Harold Chapman foot bridge crossing over the Elbow river. This is either the end or the start of the loop depending on your direction of travel. Here you can decide which direction you want to take on the loop. Cross the bridge for what is generally considered the reverse route or keep heading up the road towards the more favorite route. Follow the gravel road past the campground until you reach a roadblock gate. Ride or walk around the gate and stay on the old fire road for the entire 42km loop. Note that the bridge across the Elbow River was washed out during the 2013 flood. You'll need to ford the river. After you cross the river the road has several ups and downs with a continual elevation gain towards the summit pass located near Tombstone Lakes. A short distance past the Tombstone Lakes trailhead junction you'll reach the top of the pass and the approximate middle point of the loop. Here you'll find a nice rest area to eat lunch while and enjoying the views of the surrounding meadow and mountain ridges.

From this point it's mostly down hill with a few small ups and downs. Stay on the fire road and keep going past the Tombstone Backcountry Campground. Once past the campground the fire road turns into more of a single track trail. Stay on the trail as it crosses a few stream braids then finally reaching the pedestrian bridge near the start. Note: Pictures below are pre 2013 flood. The loop is still doable however there are several washouts and carries along the route.

Near Here: Local campgrounds include Goose Berry campground, Little Elbow, Beaver Flat campground, Paddy's Flat campground. Trailheads to Elbow Falls, Prairie Mountain, Moose Mountain, Moose Mountain Ice Cave, Prairie Mountain, Powder Face Trail, Elbow Loop and Forgetmenot Pond day use picnic area are all located near here. You are in bear country.
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Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
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Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
  Bridge Washed Out 2013 Flood
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
 
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
   
Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country Elbow Loop Trail Kananaskis Country
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