Distance: 13.5 km
Elevation gain: 920 mView mapDownload GPS track
After spectacular weather and hiking this fall we're entering the time of year when finding the motivation to get out becomes difficult, and it isn't helped by the limited number of destinations that are accessible when snowy. Thinking the snow from last weekend would still be around, we chose to head for Lineham Ridge in the Highwood region, knowing that if it was too snowy there were other hikes in the area, in particular Gunnery Mountain, that could serve as a backup plan. Remarkably, the 20+ cm of snow from last weekend was nearly entirely gone from the area and we didn't run into snow until 2400 m, making this another wonderful fall hike in NOVEMBER!
Lineham Ridge is the unofficial name for the ridge that runs between the two northwest arms of Lineham Creek. The highpoint of the ridge is the peak just south of Picklejar Lakes and is usually ascended via Lantern Creek (the usual trail to the lakes) as described in Andrew Nugara's "More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies
". As this route is a moderate scramble, hikers often ascend the southeastern end of the ridge, starting at Lineham Creek and ending where things get a bit dicey, which is typically at a highpoint about 1 km from the true summit. A good trail exists along this route all the way to treeline, and while the trail dissipates beyond here the going remains easy and is nothing more than a hike to the highpoint and usual turnaround spot. We'd been discouraged from doing this hike as we thought it was a scramble, but in retrospect those descriptions must have referred to the Nugara route.
The one annoying part of the trail is a 200 m section along Lineham Creek that was blasted out during the 2013 flood. You'll be forced down into the rubble at this point, but watch for areas where you can get back up onto the bank to make the going a little easier and avoid crossing the creek. Pick up the old trail on the lefthand bank just after a small creek (now in a deep gorge) enters Lineham Creek on the left. The exit point is indistinct and the initial trail is a bit faint, moving through a rocky area with willows and lots of moose droppings, but within minutes the trail becomes much more obvious. Near the point at which the trail once again become distinct the trail forks, with the lefthand branch launching skyward. That's the trail you want to take to ascend Lineham Ridge and it will become much easier in about 2 minutes.