Gaspatch Tour of West Bragg Creek
Increased gas exploration and development in the West Bragg Creek area of Kananaskis has changed the landscape. Some roads and bridges are no longer accessible and new roads have been built. Ongoing activity brings new temporary bridges and likely means more pipelines. This captioned photo gallery shows the way things are as of February, 2006.
The Mountain Road which has been a popular access to recreational trails, has been upgraded - widened, resurfaced and flattened to accommodate increased vehicular traffic. A new pipeline connecting the compressor station at Canyon Creek to the refinery at Cochrane has been laid across Moose Mountain, running north through Jumpingpound. A new gas well has been drilled near the Moose Loop trail.
Part of the Tom Snow trail has been turned into a road and cyclists riding the entire length of that trail could now use the pipeline road rather than the Moose Loop to get through West Bragg.
On February 11, with the temperature at 15 above and no snow on the ground I walked a new loop, I'll call the Gaspatch Tour as it takes advantage of these developments. It took about 5 hours to walk from the parking lot, along Mountain Road to the well site and on to the Y-junction where you turn right onto the Pipeline Road. This road peters out just before it connects to the reclaimed road to an old well site. This is the tricky part as the reclaimed road is impassable due to the mounds of earth that have been piled on it. A short bushwhack through the trees (see map) would shorten the walk and avoid the reclaimed road, connecting onto the abandoned road around the Moose marsh - or you could walk back to the parking lot along the Moose Loop trail. Unless a bushwhack route through the forest is marked, beware of getting lost.
The map is interactive - labels appear as you roll over hotspots. You can right-click to zoom in and drag to pan. Click on the well icon, the pipeline and few others to go to the corresponding page.
Other relevant links on braggcreek.ca