Nihani Ridge and summit was done on September 13, 2015. It was done with Sandy, Curtis, and myself.
The weather was not fun; it was cold, wet, and raining off and on all morning. We started the hike at 7:30 at the Little Elbow Campground. We parked in the first parking lot but could of easily parked closer to the trailhead just before the campground started. The trailhead starts at the end of the campground along a gravel road (it’s gated so vehicles can’t get through). A short ways down this road is a sign that marks the beginning of the actual trail. Keep an eye out for more signs, otherwise you will end up on a different path.
The trail has a moderate slope, it wasn’t steep like past hikes and it was a bit…. boring. The fog/mist/clouds were low so there weren’t many view areas. There is a small clearing at the top of the first ridge that opened up into a larger clearing. We expected to see some sort of wildlife but settled for birds and squirrels (saw a lot of those this summer!).
Continuing along, we started to climb a bit more steadily along the side of the hill (and back into the forest). The trail passed along an outcropping of rocks and the lovely people at Alberta Parks put up a cable railing (not sure why…). The next viewpoint was at the top of this “ridge”. I imagine it would be a nice view, looking out over the valley to the West; but all we saw were clouds and fog. We continued up the ridge (I assume it was the true ridge? not sure…) and stopped at the next viewpoint. More clouds and fog, this time it was raining a bit. Onwards we tread.
At some point, we managed to get on to the “advanced” trail because we were doing more scrambling than needed plus the trail seemed to be a bit washed out or less pronounced. A quick glance downwards and we saw the actual trail and how easy it looked; Sandy and Curtis weren’t impressed with my trail finding abilities. By this time, it was raining and the ground was muddy and slippery. Every step had to be thought out and tested before putting our full weight on it; it was a new experience!
Once we met up with the other path, the trail turned up and became steep. I assume in dry conditions it wouldn’t be bad, but with all the mud and wet stone, it was hard to get a grip upwards. We reached the summit just in time for it to really rain now. A quick glance around, we decided to descend before we ended up sliding down all the way. I tried mud skiing, but that didn’t work out so well, I would get going and end up hitting a dry patch and falling backwards.
When we got to the second viewpoint (second on the way up, first on the way down), the rain had stopped but it was misting out. We didn’t take the time to look at anything at this point because it was the same thing: fog and clouds.
We were back down to the car before noon (only took us 3 hours), which gave us the afternoon. It was nice not being on a mountain for the full day, but I definitely miss those long hikes.
It’s a nice short hike if you only have the morning or afternoon. It’s close to Calgary and still offers a lot of the wonderful views a mountain hike would provide. It’s a good summer hike.