We kicked off our 2017 hiking season with Odin’s first hike, in honour of his first birthday. We’d been told to wait until around a year before taking him up any mountains, to help prevent any future issues with hips & other joints. I think part of the fun of having a spunky pup is taking them on adventures, so we’d been looking forward to this day since we first started looking into getting a dog.
I knew I wanted to include as much of our family as we could, so we’d originally planned an easy climb up Sulfur Mountain. We’d take the gondola back down afterwards as it’s free in the off season. We’d done it a few winter’s ago with my brother in law’s dog. It was a great little season opener. Unfortunately, a few days before the hike, I found out the Banff Gondola no longer allows dogs due to some negative experiences. I turned to some other doodle owners for suggestions & we landed on Barrier Lake Lookout, also known as Prairie View. It looked like a relatively easy, rewarding climb.
We met our hiking group in the parking lot around 10:30 am & headed out. Walking along the lake at the start of the trail, it seemed like we might be in for a cold, windy day. As soon as we got into the trees though, our entire group shed most of their layers.
The trail is south facing, so I hadn’t expected to see much snow, however, it didn’t take long for us to run into some icy patches. None of us were wearing spikes, so it got challenging pretty quickly. My mom was only in runners so her & my dad had to bail about halfway up. The rest of us continued on, despite some pretty sketchy sections on the way up. Yay for spring hiking!
We made it to the first lookout area & stopped for a few pictures. We were pretty close to the summit at this point, & planned to continue, but a combination of congestion & a steep, slippery section caused us to re-evaluate. We decide to stop for lunch with a view, & call it a day.
We had braced ourselves for a treacherous climb down, but were treated to a fairly easy descent. The icy sections has softened up, which made a huge difference. It’s definitely something to keep in mind if you plan to hike this in the early spring – either go later in the day or bring spikes.
Despite the early season conditions, the trail was quite busy. I imagine it’s even more so in the summer, so I think I’d stick to shoulder season unless you like hiking in crowds. We saw lots of other dogs too, many off-leash despite signs stating that dogs must be on one.
Overall, it was a great day. We got lots of sunshine, enjoyed some beautiful views, & great company. I’m hoping to get out to the mountains lots with Odin, so any other dog friendly hike suggestions are more than welcome. We’re on the hunt for our first real summit!
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