Mount Kidd Fire Lookout is a short, strenuous hike from Kananaskis Village to a panoramic viewpoint. You will have to earn the view as the trail is extremely steep gaining 350 metres of elevation over 3.5 kilometres.
Note that this is NOT the lookout indicated on the green Alberta Parks trail signs; the fire lookout trail is an unmarked, unofficial trail. Many a hiker has ended up bushwhacking their way to or from the former site of Mount Kidd Fire Lookout, so carry a topographic map and follow these directions carefully!
The trail begins on the west side of the parking lot (opposite the hotel). Turn left to go south on Terrace Trail. After 200 metres, just past the south end of the baseball field, continue on the trail on the left (do not take the gravel road on the right!).
Continue for another 500 metres or so to the Terrace/Kovach junction and take the right fork to hike up Kovach.
After 1.1 kilometres, you will come to the Kovach/Aspen junction. Go left to stay on Kovach Trail.
After the second switchback (about 300 metres), look on the left for a cairn and orange flagging marking the unofficial trail to the abandoned fire lookout. Take the SECOND access point, just a few metres past the first (this is the one we took and found it easy to follow). From here, the trail becomes increasingly steep.
Follow the calf-burning switchbacks through mixed forest. Eventually you leave the trees and can enjoy views of Kananaskis Valley, Mount Baldy, Fisher Peak, and Wedge Peak. The trail veers to the right taking you back into the trees for a short distance before going left again and delivering you at the lookout.
A concrete pad is all that is left of the fire lookout, but it makes a nice spot to picnic and enjoy the views. Centennial Ridge is to the north (a great ridgewalk, read about it here), Ribbon Peak is to the west, and Mount Kidd is directly south.
You cannot reach the true summit of Mount Kidd from this approach, but it’s possible to go another 500 metres to the top of Junior Kidd as explor8ion calls it. With minimal elevation gain (about 40 metres), it’s a quick walk to the little “summit.”
With a short approach, you get above treeline pretty quickly and get a great workout too! We did this hike on September 26, 2018 while the kids were at school. Short, sweet, and there were even a few larches near the top. Return the way you came to avoid bushwhacking!
Mount Kidd Fire Lookout At A Glance
Distance: 3.5 km one way (+ 500 metres to the “summit”)
Elevation gain: 650 metres (+40 metres to the “summit”)
Time: Allow 2.5-4 hours round trip. We took 1.75 hrs to go up and 1 hr to come down.
Stroller friendly? no
Nearest washrooms: outhouses west of the parking lot
Distance from Calgary: 100 km
Parking: Mount Kidd Manor, Pomeroy Mountain Lodge
Trailhead: west side of parking lot
Directions to trailhead from Calgary: Head west on Highway 1 / Trans Canada Highway. After 62 km, take Exit 118 to Hwy AB-40 South. Continue south for 23 km. Turn right onto Mount Allan Drive – into Kananaskis Village. Take your first left onto Centennial Drive (towards Pomeroy Mountain Lodge), turn right onto Terrace Drive (look for Mount Kidd Manor sign), and park in the SW corner of the parking lot. The trail is beside the parking lot.
Know Before You Go
This is an unofficial trail so there is no signage at or after the last junction. Although the trail is fairly well marked with flagging tape, some route-finding may be necessary. I do not recommend this trail when snow covered as it’s very easy to get lost.