I had the excellent fortune of hiking Mount Lady MacDonald in Canmore yesterday, and really can’t believe I hadn’t done this one sooner!
Mount Lady MacDonald is located just NW of Canmore with the trailhead being right at Cougar Creek, so you’ll be looking at a much shorter drive than you would for pretty much anything on the other side of Canmore. Near the top of the mountain there is a (hopefully given its state) disused helipad that can serve as a nice spot to eat your lunch with a great view of Canmore below. Apparently there’s also an abandoned tea house somewhere around this same spot but I didn’t spend any time looking for it. If you go beyond the helipad, you’ll have to ascend a pretty steep scree slope to reach the summit, but the reward is well worth the struggle up. At the top you’ll have an amazing view of the valley and mountain ranges behind Mount Lady MacDonald, as well as even better view of Canmore to your SE.
We started the hike at about half 9, which was early enough to beat the majority of the traffic but not so early as to have the mountain to ourselves. This being said, yesterday was a national holiday so the mountain was almost certainly busier than usual. We reached the summit at about half 12, and spent a bit of time slowly working our way across the ridge itself, but didn’t end up going further than 100m. The ridge isn’t all that wide to begin with and becomes narrower and narrower as you move along it, so needless to say it gets pretty spicy pretty quickly. I wouldn’t attempt it unless you really know what you’re doing.
I would highly recommend this hike, but I have a few suggestions for anyone who is going to make the attempt. Firstly, there’s a lot of altitude gain and not very much shelter from the sun, so you’re gonna want to pick a day that isn’t going to get devilishly hot and make sure you start nice and early. Hiking poles will be very useful, I didn’t bring mine and my knees were really not enjoying the trip back down. Gaiters will also serve you very well on the scree slope before the summit. I found coming down the scree slope much easier than getting up it, it’s deep enough that you can step and slide down without too much bother.
All in all an absolutely fantastic hike!