Distance: 11 km
Elevation gain: 415 m View map Download GPS track
Sandra and I were exceptionally low on motivation this weekend and weren’t even planning on going hiking today, but while eating breakfast I decided I just couldn’t sit at home all day! With few options that fit the weather, time, and motivational constraints I was able to quickly zero in on an easy hike to the summit of Ranger Hill, just west of Bragg Creek. This area is a veritable maze of trails for hiking, biking, skiing, and who knows what else, but with a track on my GPS and maps at every junction I knew this would be a dead easy trip.
We started the hike in the parking lot on the left side of Highway 66, immediately west of where it crosses the Elbow River. We left our snowshoes in the truck and wore microspikes, which weren’t even really necessary, and started hiking quickly along the road-width and solidly packed Elbow Trail.
An easy kilometer from the parking lot, immediately after crossing a bridged creek, we turned left onto the Fullerton Loop trail, then a few hundred meters later we kept left at another junction. The ascent steepened considerably at this point, at least for such a mellow trail, and we were soon afforded respectable views to the southwest.
About 3 km from the parking lot we reached the intersection of the Bobcat and Fullerton Loop trails and turned left onto the Bobcat trail. The views largely disappeared at this point and never really returned, but the forest was open and the extremely gently graded trail kept the hike very easy.
After a couple of kilometers on the Bobcat trail we intersected the Ranger Summit trail. I was a bit turned around at this point and was having trouble determining where the highest point was on this forested hill, but after wandering a few hundred meters in both directions along the trail we determined the highpoint was a bit to the east of the intersection. We had a quick snack at this point, then started back down.
A short distance below the summit we intersected the Sugar Mama trail and decided to follow it back to the Elbow Trail. This worked well, but the completely unnecessary switchbacks on this trail were pretty annoying. The Fullerton Loop is likely a superior trail, but we figured it would also be more crowded. Regardless, we soon joined up with the Elbow Trail and made our way back to the truck. It certainly wasn’t an exciting hike – how can it be when you need to hunt for the summit!? – but it did get us outside and that’s always better than staying indoors!