The gem of the Elbow Valley is located at the very end of Highway 66, 31 km west of Bragg Creek. The Eastern Slopes of the Rocky Mountains form its backdrop. It is one of the few areas in the Elbow Valley that contains three distinct life zones: the montane, subalpine and alpine. Moose Mountain is another. The montane region is the forested watershed that characterizes the foothills. Subalpine is the middle elevation between the aspen trees and the treeline. It is populated by firs and Engelmann spruce. The Alpine zone is the land above treeline where you’ll find a little greenery, a lot of rock and some drop-dead views of the mountains and the valleys.
Four mountains figure prominately looking west; Banded Peak (the one with the horizontal bar), Outlaw, Cornwall (2970 m elevation) in the middle and Glasgow on the right. It has creeks, rivers and the extraordinarily beautiful Forgetmenot Pond. Some of the activities practised there are; hiking, biking, horseback riding, camping, picnics, paddling, mountain climbing, scuba diving and fishing (license required). There are frontcountry and backcountry campsites. There is even a campsite for your horse. The Provincial Recreation Area is really just the trailhead for about 200 km of trails. A popular trail is the Big Elbow/Little Elbow Loop that begins just across the suspension footbridge. It is 38 km long and forms a kind of island border bounded by the two rivers. The four mountains are encircled by it.
Nihahi Ridge trail (2.5 km) is my favourite in the valley. It takes its name from the Stoney word for rock. You walk along the river for a while, then through foothills forest, then scramble up rocky inclines. You are rewarded with a spectacular view up the Little Elbow River valley. The path along the river disappeared in the 2203 flood along with some interpretive trail signs. A plan, proposed in 2016, recommended restoring the trail, the signs and upgrading the trailhead parking.
There is a herd of Wild horses that live in the area. I’ve also seen quite a few mountain sheep.
You can only get there between May 15 and December 2nd as the road is closed during the winter.
Little Elbow Recreation Area Map