Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 810 mView mapDownload GPS track
Cox Hill is a popular winter hike and/or showshoe trip located less than an hour from Calgary. Due to its Chinook-prone location, the trail is often hikeable year round. Today we wore microspikes and carried our snowshoes, but the trail was well packed the entire way and our snowshoes were never required. I'd recommend wearing traction devices to start (there was less than an inch of snow on the trail at the beginning) and carrying snowshoes in case the snow gets deep.
To reach the trailhead, exit the Trans Canada highway onto Sibbald Creek Trail (Highway 68) and drive 23 km, then turn left onto Powderface Trail. After ~3 km, turn left into the Dawson Equestrian day use area. There are picnic tables and fire pits here in case you want a campfire upon returning.
The trail departs the parking lot near the entrance to the lot and immediately crosses a bridge over Jumpingpound Creek. A short distance further reach a signed intersection; turn right here. From this point forward the trail climbs 700 m over about 5.5 km, but the steeper sections are well switchbacked and there are many nearly level sections where you can catch your breath. A few small downhill sections must be ascended on the return, but are gentle enough that it is not taxing. Even fighting colds and asthma we didn't find this hike difficult, so it must be fairly easy!
The final ascent to the false (east) summit requires careful planning to avoid potential avalanche areas. While a big slide is not likely, windslabs do develop and do slide here and could be quite dangerous. See this photo
from another trip report to see what this could mean. If you're unsure about how to proceed, then don't proceed.
The final walk to the true western summit (mislabeled as being a minor summit on some maps) is straightforward and definitely worth the minor effort involved as the panorama expands considerably. Keep an eye out for elk on the grassy plateau to the north and ptarmigan on the grass.