Having a beautiful day of sunshine and mild weather this weekend, Sheena and I went on our first hike in a long while
to a fire lookout. Fire lookouts are fairly neat and a bit of a new discovery for us and hiking in Alberta. Fire lookouts are typically placed on top of fairly high hills/mountains/ridges allowing for good sight lines and natural observation posts of the forest. In Alberta, because of their remoteness, the lookouts actually stay in the cabin for the whole fire season. For hikers though, the allure to them is that you get an incredible view, often similar to that of a mountain peak — but usually without the skills required to summit a mountain. Sheena picked up a book last year which gives us lots of lookouts to visit.
This trip took us to Mockingbird Hill Lookout located in the Waiparous and Ghost wilderness
area, northwest of Cochrane. Sheena and I love this area — as it’s off the beaten path and rarely do you see other hikers in the area. The more accessible areas are prone to ATV users, but for hikes, you’re usually pretty far from anyone. Also, to get there, you need to head on a dirt road, called a ‘Forestry Trunk Road’. This particular road, #940, traverses the Rocky Mountain foothills in a northwest direction. If you followed this road to it’s terminus, you could drive from Cochrane area to Nordegg and eventually reach Jasper. The great part is that when I say ‘dirt road’, it’s not the typical narrow, potholed, treacherous, washed-out back-country road you’d expect in Nova Scotia. From what we saw, the road is wide and in excellent condition, especially during a dry winter season. Someday we plan to visit Ram Falls, which is probably a three hour drive along
this road, northwest from Cochrane.
On to the lookout hike. After a very easy walk up the steep hill for about an hour, we were treated with spectacular views of the foothills and Rockies in the Ghost and Kananaskis area. We took a few pictures of the buildings and panoramic
shots of the scenery, had lunch and took another drive toward Airdrie via the dirt roads. It was great to get out of the city for a while and enjoy the green (and quiet) wilderness.