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zeljkok 04-17-2021 08:08 PM

Ya-Ha-Tinda Postcard
10 Attachment(s)
Ya-Ha-Tinda is private property owned and managed by Parks Canada. It lies outside of BNP east border and is not a National Park. I've never been here before, main reason being quite cumbersome access. One can drive in via Sundre or via Forestry Trunk Road from Ghost, but in both cases it takes ~3 hrs (1-way), regardless if you are coming from Calgary or Banff/Canmore. There is also fair amount of gravel road driving. But with unreal stretch of beautiful bluebird sunshine I finally decided to pay the visit. Thought I might scramble Maze Peak, but facing unreal beauty I decided to go exploring and leave overrated peakbagging for some later day. Main ranch where buffaloes graze on vast grassland, Bighorn Falls, far reaching views down "Banff Trail" that eventually links with Cascade FR/Lake Minnewanka, or Skoki/Lake Louise. Wonderful ridges and easy looking peaks all around that just beg for exploring. Serene Red Deer River by Bighorn Campground where I had lunch. Eventually did put hiking boots on and following my nose did great loop behind Poplar Ridge linking up with Eagle Lake trail. Photo story:

Attachment 285382
[Picnic area by Bighorn creek and usual hiking trailhead parking. One can drive few km to ranch itself, but no parking is allowed there]

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[Buffaloes grazing in grassland near main ranch]

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[Main Ya-Ha-Tinda ranch at end of the road. Once again, no parking allowed here]

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[Picnic bench by Red Deer river in Bighorn campground where I had lunch. Currently free to camp here, but I head they will start charging soon. It is not your typical hikers campground, but more for camper vehicles / horses. I did not check Eagle campground few km east as it was still closed]

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[Lower Bighorn Falls, quite spectacular. One can get to base of falls by following canyon below, quite a bit of ice still. Wonderful trail can be found on both sides of the canyon; I followed east side on my "Poplar Loop" hike]

Attachment 285396
[Bear victim, probably]

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[Amazing foothills vistas behind Poplar ridge. This is largely why I hike nowdays; find place like this, have it to yourself just sit in sunshine, take photos and be happy. This is also approach for Evangeline / Rum ridgewalk, of which first part can be seen in the background]

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[Magical moment; herd of several 100's elk (can't see all here), disturbed by my presence started 'stampede'. It was quite a sight watching them until they finally decided there was enough distance & went back to feeding]

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[Another beautiful pond, nearing Scalp creek drainage and Eagle Lake trail. Maze Peak upper center]

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[Eagle Lake trail. This is an easy hike starting from Eagle Staging area by the road; well worth the effort as there are some waterfalls and second lake further up; I was out of time though and fast hiked back on road. If you do this loop and have time, it is better to hike back via Poplar Ridge - it offers spectacular views]

Some more resources: Canadian government Tinda page is here, and best hiking/scrambling online resource by large margin is here.

This area speaks "Alberta" more than any other I've seen. Banff/Louise/Jasper and even Kananaskis are more international in spirit, but this is Alberta. Tall grassland and aspen trees, horses, buffaloes and that wild untamed country where prairies meet the mountains. I could see why it is so highly rated in some outdoor circles & this will not be my only visit.

martin 04-17-2021 09:54 PM

Nice pics, beautiful country. Reminds me a bit of the scenery in the Yellowstone TV series.

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