Hummingbird-Plume Fire Lookout. Trail details: Take Highway 40 south to the Kananaskis Lodge/Nakiska turnoff. Drive straight toward the Nakiska Ski Lodge and park at the gates. Trail is behind the lodge, heading north. Take Skogan Pass Trail to Hummingbird Plume Lookout.
So, it took Nat and I some time to clue into the best way to find good solid trails with amazing vantage points, but once we tuned into the fire lookout hikes, we were off to the races.
There are literally dozens of fire lookout trails throughout Alberta and BC. They make great hikes because they're usually accessible by a trail that requires little climbing or scrambling, and since the locations were originally selected due to the expansive view of the area, the payoff for the trail is usually pretty sweet.
Most of the fire lookout hikes in the Kananaskis area are for defunct lookouts. The lookouts have been decommissioned and more often than not, the buildings themselves torn down or taken away.
Hummingbird Plume was a nice exception -- the long abandoned lookout is still standing, and contains a lot of history within.
On the way, we encountered more wildflowers, and I got to attempt to improve on my wildflower knowledge. My not-so-extensive wildflower books didn't have this one, but it very closely resembles the Prickly Rose (rosa acicularis), which tends to cross-breed with other roses:
Once we started heading up hill, the trail was green and lush and utterly deserted:
The hike to the actual structure was a steady climb, but far from strenuous. We came to a small clearing where this small building stood (that's Nat taking a look inside):
Clearly, this particular structure has been around some time. How long? Well, one reference book (Mike Potter's excellent "Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies") mentioned some of the lumber used to build this lookout was stamped from 1915. After some searching, we found that stamp, near the roof:
Inside, more history etched into the walls:
The lookout itself is off to the side, through a small clearing, then suddenly we came to a cliff edge, and the valley was spread out before us:
Hubby kindly stitched together this panorama shot from all my shots from the viewpoint. No photo could possibly do this view justice, but this comes close (please click the photo for a better look):
Beautiful hike without a strenuous workout... we couldn't have asked for more!