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Layering and larches: Hello fall in the mountains
Hidden Lake on September 25, 2022
It has (finally) happened! The needles on larch trees in the Rockies have turned from green to golden. 🎉 It’s officially the most magical time of the year to hike in Alberta.
Part of the magic of Alberta’s popular larch season is the thrill of the hunt. What colour will the larch trees at your destination be? Fluorescent green? Golden yellow? Have you timed your adventure to hit peak larch? How busy will your route be? Will you be able to find any parking? We both headed to new-to-us hikes on Sunday and both managed to escape the crowds while soaking in larch-y goodness. Win-win!
This week’s entry is short and sweet to give you more time to go larch hunting. Based on our experience this weekend and photos from our dear readers’ recent adventures (thank you!), the mountain larch trees near Calgary should continue to look their best this week and into the weekend, so do start planning a larch march now.
While the weather this weekend was unusually warm for late September, it’s certainly time to start wrapping your head around the change of seasons and change of dress.
Layering is key for staying warm and enjoying fall (and winter, and spring, and summer) in the mountains. We recommend a base layer, mid layer and outer layer, with much more detailed explainers of this system found here and here.
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This layering system is good for adventurers of all ages, with Annalise’s baby wearing a merino wool base layer on Sunday’s hike (looks like we have another merino wool convert!). A fleece jacket and toque were added at the lake, where temperatures were a touch cooler, and fleece pants and a puffy jacket were also packed had it gotten chillier.
Annalise drove past the larch crowds at Ptarmigan Cirque and Arethusa Cirque on Sunday and continued driving a short distance down Highway 40 in Kananaskis to hike to Running Rain Lake, pictured above, where the larch trees were looking stellar.
A jaunt above Running Rain Lake led to some nice views and many larches, some of which were just starting to change colour.
Meanwhile, Cailynn snagged a spot on the last guided conservation hike of the season to Hidden Lake in Banff National Park. She saw stunning larches and learned all about westslope cutthroat trout re-introduction from a very knowledgeable Parks Canada guide.
Check out this article for more on the mammoth efforts underway to protect and recover the species at risk. And you can also do this hike without a guide (the larches up there were topnotch)!
⛰️🥾️ Go Outside is written by Annalise & Cailynn — writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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Go Outside is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.