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Kananaskis Country’s popular Ha Ling hiking trail reopens with improvements

Ha Ling Peak. Gord Gillies / News Talk 770

One of the Canomre area’s most popular hiking trails is set to open this weekend after a year-long closure to improve the trail conditions.

Ha Ling Peak was closed last year to allow for extensive upgrades that not only make the trail safer and easier for hikers, but will protect the environment around it, Alberta Environment and Parks said in a news release.

READ MORE: Safety crews offer reminders to visitors after busy weekend in Kananaskis

According to the ministry, the previous trail wasn’t designated and had developed and evolved over time. The government said it was never intended for the large number of visitors it saw on a regular basis.

Hikers who take to the new and improved trail on Aug. 10 will see a reshaped and lengthened trail with several additions, including:

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  • Rails and cable ladders in areas where the grade couldn’t be reduced
  • Reshaped bedrock
  • New viewpoint overlooking Whiteman’s Pond and the East End of Rundle

BELOW: A look at the new Ha Ling trail (blue) and viewpoints

The government said the trail overhaul was spurred by four main things:

  • The steepness of the trail was causing significant erosion and trail widening, damaging the surrounding ecosystem
  • The steepness of the trail created slip and fall hazards, leading to injuries and public safety concerns
  • Parts of the trail were exposed to avalanche hazards
  • Whitebark pine, an endangered tree species, were exposed to possible damage from hikers

Alberta Environment and Parks had a few important messages for those planning to hit the new and improved trail, citing that some of the previous damage to the trail was caused by people who weren’t prepared, especially in winter when it was too slippery or icy.

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Visitors are being advised to stay on the trail, wear appropriate clothes and footwear and care for the trees along the trail.

“Creating new trails will cause the trail to widen again, erode, and pull at the understory of vegetation and soil,” the government said.

The Ha Ling upgrade project took four more days than the previously-estimated 115 construction days to complete and was done at a cost of about $850,000, according to Alberta Environment and Parks.

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