Distance: 7.5 km
Elevation gain: 775 mView mapDownload GPS track
This is another great winter or shoulder-season hike just 90 minutes from Calgary, and with 700 m of elevation gain over less than 4 km, it's also a great workout.
There are several minor variations on where to start and end this hike. We started the hike at the winter gate on the highway, angling north-northeastward up the grassy hills and through patches of trees towards the ridge to the northeast. There are two easy routes up to the ridge from this direction. The first one that becomes visible is the southernmost one, but from this approach this would require diving down into a gully only to climb steeply up again. We stayed on the grassy slopes a bit longer and climbed up a grassy rib to the ridge a bit further to the north.
Once on the ridge the route is straightforward and the going less steep. The ridge is treed, but narrow and typically windswept enough that post-holing is kept to a minimum. A few areas are a bit scrambly, but any perceived or real exposure can be avoided by retreating a very short distance into the trees. The summit is actually a double summit, each marked with a large cairn, but the distance between them is minimal and both are visible en route so you're aware the initial bump is not the summit.
To make this hike into a loop, simply descend the ridge to the southwest, angling back towards the winter gate. There is no clear path in this area and there were many old tracks evident in the snow today (both human and animal), but navigation shouldn't pose a problem to the moderately competent. Be aware that this ridge tends to hold far more snow than the one you ascended, so be prepared to post-hole over a few sections. As you are descending, however, this is not nearly as taxing as it would be on the way up. (In other words, the optimal way to do this route in the winter is as described above - counterclockwise instead of clockwise).
As a final note, the area is home to a large number of elk and sheep and hence is infested with ticks in the spring. Not being a fan of ticks, I'd say the optimal time for this hike is in the winter or fall.