Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation gain: 665 m View map Download GPS track
After a quick and easy hike up Mockingbird Lookout in the Ghost Wilderness earlier this morning we were in need of another short hike to fill the remainder of the day. There weren’t any others in the Ghost that I was interested in doing, so we made our way back to Highway 1A and headed to Kananaskis to hike up Horton Hill, a short hike near at the intersection of Highways 40 and 68. It’s directly above the Tim Horton’s Children’s Ranch, which is presumably how it got its name.
After parking at the Lusk Pass day use area we started up the steep southwest side of Horton Hill. While the grade was much steeper than I’d expected, the forest was open and overall the going was very easy. Shortly after leaving the parking lot we also intersected a faint trail heading along the ridge which further simplified the navigation. A few open areas on the way up granted a unique view to the south that encompassed Barrier Lake and the surrounding mountains.
After ascending 300 m over less than a kilometer we reached a clearing that afforded a wonderful 180 degree panorama to the south. Interestingly this clearing was man-made with its only apparent purpose being to provide a view. A few hundred meters of level travel then brought us to a short but dense section of deadfall, after which the ascent resumed. Near the summit we intersected a very good trail coming up from the Tim Horton’s camp that led us the remainder of the way to the summit and its ammunition box summit register.
The view from the summit was less spectacular than that from the earlier clearing, but the added exercise made the extension worthwhile. We’d still only travelled 1.5 km from the truck, however, and with most of the day remaining we (I?) decided to continue further along the ridge. This first entailed a 50 m descent through horrible deadfall, brush, and a slippery dusting of snow, but thankfully we found an old flagged route a bit to the east that at least provided evidence that one other person had managed to bash their way through the deadfall.
After the descent the forest opened up again, but while travelling along the treed ridge was pleasant, views were nearly entirely absent. Had I remembered the description in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide I would have known this, but the extension was a nice hike nevertheless and it did bring us to the highpoint of the entire ridge system. Thankfully I had read enough of the guide to realize that continuing past this point would be a terrible idea, and so we quickly turned around and headed back the way we came. It wasn’t a hike that I’d ever consider doing in the summer, but with deep snow, cloud, and flurries further west I was quite happy to have explored this area today!