Distance: 13 km
Elevation gain: 650 m View map Download GPS track
Eagle Hill is a small hill between the trans-Canada highway and highway 68 that has been on my radar as a potential shoulder season or crappy weather hike for a few years now. With a summit height of just 1730 m - an elevation lower than the trailhead of many hikes we do - it's certainly not a lofty objective, but sometimes a walk in the woods is nice for just being a walk in the woods.
We actually didn't have any intention of doing it today, planning instead to break a snowshoe trail up North Buller Ridge, but as we approached the mountains the wall of cloud filling the Bow Valley (or "mainly sunny" as Environment Canada said) convinced us to turn around and enjoy a day in the sun instead. With little information on the area other than my somewhat vague memory of internet trip reports we ended up following a trail on my GPS that began at the Sibbald Lake campground. That trail, as well as several other routes and variations, are described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide
The trail was about 50% snow free today, but that which was covered in snow was frustrating to walk on as the 10 degree temperature had turned it into slip-sliding slush. As I expected the views along the trail weren't particularly inspiring, but the forest was sufficiently varied to keep me entertained. Most entertaining were the 12 (twelve!) grouse we saw along the trail. That's a new daily record for me! We reached the summit after a bit under 2 hours of hiking, being slowed largely due to the snow on the trail, and were treated to some decent views to the west and south. The remainder of the limited panorama was blocked by trees and a barbed wire fence protecting native land.
Having ample energy remaining we decided to forge our own route back to the car by following the ridge to the north of the trail, aptly named Grouse Ridge in Daffern's guidebook. It had appeared mostly snow-free from the trail and the open forest suggested it would be relatively easy going. Thankfully both predictions turned out to be true and we even had a reasonably good trail to follow most of the way. The views weren't any better though, but the forest along the ridge was different than below and while we didn't spot any animals the ridgecrest was covered in animal sign of both ungulate and predator.
After a pleasant ridgewalk of several kilometers we dropped back down to one of the more used trails in the area, followed it briefly, and then ascended another small ridge just before making a final descent to the car. I wouldn't call it an exciting day, but it was reasonably relaxing and we still got a decent amount of exercise with all the ups and downs, especially along our return route.