Hiking the Ghost

2012-06-18


At Ghost View Ridge overlooking Lesueur Creek
Photo: Courtesy: Heinz Unger

Located east of Banff National Park and north of the Trans Canada Highway, the Ghost watershed covers 1,000 square kilometres of public land in the Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve. There are some ranches and acreages here, but most of the Ghost watershed is used by industry, specifically oil and gas drilling companies, agriculture and sawmills, all of which have the potential to damage the ecosystem. Motorized vehicles have damaged stream bank vegetation and are a major cause of erosion due to unmaintained trails. Motorized use is unlawful in the sandhills, but this does not deter some riders. Too, the wetlands are scarred due to all terrain vehicle use.

The Ghost Watershed Alliance Society is a 100+-member group concerned with ecosystem and environmental issues related to the Ghost-Waiparous watershed. The Society actively engages its members and others through open houses and guided walks—“walk the watershed—to raise public awareness of issues that affect the Ghost watershed. At the end of May, AHA board member Bertha Ford and three other members of the Red Deer Ramblers hiking club attended an informational session, “Hiking the Ghost”, held by the society. Heinz Unger, President of the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society, is eager to encourage hikers and cross-country skiers to use the trails in the Wildcat Hills, along the North and South Ghost Rivers, Waiparous Creek and Black Rock, to name a few of the more popular areas.

Ghost Hikers is a newly formed hiking group focusing on routes in the Ghost Valley. They are trying to arrange a hike once a month during the hiking season. Interested? Contact ghosthikers@gmail.com. For independent hikers, there is Gillian Daffern’s The Kananaskis Trail Guide that describes some of the routes. Free for the asking is the Alberta government’s map The Ghost Forest Land Use Zone which shows road access to trailheads as well as the many OHV trails. Topographic maps Lake Minnewanka, Canmore and Wildcat Hills cover the Ghost watershed. Backpackers can hike from the Ghost over Aylmer Pass to Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park. Another popular hiking trails leads from Devil’s Gap along Lake Minnewanka. Admittedly, access to some of the hiking trails, is difficult. There are no bridges, so rivers have to be forded and hikers need to exercise great caution.

For more information on the Ghost Watershed Alliance Society, its issues, research and guided walks, visit its site at http://www.ghostwatershed.ca or e-mail office@ghostwatershed.ca.

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