My photo app reminded me a few days ago that it had been three years since I had last hiked Little Arethusa. I am not one to typically repeat hikes too often as there's a long list of "to-do" hikes on my list and there never seems to be enough time to cross them off the list. 7 years of living near the mountains and I have only scratched the surface of hikes around the area. But a hike like Little Arethusa is one worth doing more than once.
This 5 KM out and back hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta is a great hike in the Spring and Summer but it's pretty freaking amazing in the Fall. And although on the way down we shared the trail with what felt like half of the hiking community, we still managed to snag some time on the summit almost to ourselves. And honestly, who can blame the crowds who want to take in the (very short) beauty of the Fall season in Alberta.
Growing up in Ontario and taking in the beautiful Fall colours every year, I grew up a little spoiled when it came to the season. With this being my 7th Fall after moving to Alberta, I've learned the season seems to come overnight and disappear just as quickly a few weeks later. With a limited window in mind, hikes like this in the Highwood Pass area of Kananaskis Country are a must this time of year and catching the colourful larch trees before they drop their needles for the winter is the cherry on top. Larch trees are not a true evergreen tree like the pine trees also found in the area. They are deciduous and so begin to hold their nutrients for storage for the winter when the temperatures cool down and those needles turn yellow and drop off. The colour of these trees glow between the evergreen trees beside and make for some awe dropping views every Fall in the Canadian Rockies.
The hike starts in the trees and it's not long before the first peek of the golden larch trees starts. A steady climb up through scree rewards very quickly with views through layers of mountains touched golden with the larch trees across the horizon. The well-defined trails zig zags to the summit which will typically be shared with many others this time of year for a high five, a picture of those views that make you crave a pumpkin spice latte on the way home, and some snacks before the way down. And the Kaula II was a perfect sweater for the hike, keeping me warm in the brisk temperatures and a solid layering tool for the windy summit.
Little Arethusa is a great hike for people of many ages and skill levels. The parking lot to access this hike also can bring hikers to Arethusa Cirque which offers a route around a gorgeous valley and golden larch trees this time of year. With other great hikes in the area showing off the beauty of the Fall like Pocaterra Ridge, Highwood Pass is an area that can't be missed in September in the Canadian Rockies.