Coliseum Mountain

reaching summit

Last Monday, with promising weather forecast, and emboldened by my colleague P_____H______ who had spent the prior Monday golfing, I decided to skip work and run up Coliseum Mountain near Nordegg. It seemed a good warm-up for some of my summer mountain plans.

I wasn’t sure of the exact location of the trail, so I zoomed in on the peak using Garmin’s free Basecamp software. The Search feature quickly allowed me to download other hikers’ GPS tracks of the trail. Garmin’s “Garmin Connect” feature allows people to upload tracks of their outdorr activities to an online database and the interface for uploading, searching, and downloading tracks is built right into Basecamp. This makes sense, since the easiest way to identify an area where you want to seek tracks is on a GPS program and the obvious place to use that track is on a GPS program. So why even open a web browser to hunt for tracks? Now lots of people have tried to create an easy way to allow people to share and download GPS tracks, but I think Garmin has gotten it right this time. And that’s no plug.

Anyway, as it happened, I didn’t need the GPS info at all. The route to the trailhead (deemed “Staging Areas” by Alberta Environment) was well-signed along roads through the optimistically named “North Nordegg Subdivision.” Once at the parking lot, I was pleased to see no other cars. Just me against the Coliseum. No Christians, no lions.

I slung my overpacked hydration pack (bladder, energy bars, windshirt, gloves, cell, and camera) on my shoulders and left the parking lot (1400 m) at 8:17 and settled into my old man’s shuffle through the forests on the south flank of Coliseum. The trail was quite wide, fairly well maintained, and easy to follow. The night’s rains  left the trail wet, but I encountered no mud, not even slippery patches. For most of the climb, the trail followed nicely graded switchbacks, probably averaging about 8%. At 1900m or so, the trail swings left and follows a broad ridge to the summit cap. At treeline, a short scree/talus pitch breaks through cliff bands to gain the grassy rounded summit at 2050m. I called Catherine at work and had a bite before leaving. This was once the site of Alberta’s first forest fire lookout in 1927, but I found no trace except some rusty nails and screws. From here, the front ranges appeared almost dry.

View from Coliseum Mountain Summit

Anyway, I reversed my route back to the car and was headed back to Red Deer by 11:30. A great day out!

Coliseum Mountain: 7.25 km one way. 650m vertical gain.  Ascent 1:27, rest on summit 0:17, descent 1:21 = 3:05 total roundtrip.


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