Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain: 780 m Route map
With snow flurries and high winds enveloping most of the Rockies, Sandra and I decided to stick to the foothills today. Our destination was Chimney Rock, an interesting little summit just inside the northern border of Bob Creek Wildland Provincial Park. As far as I can tell it can’t be accessed without crossing private land, so I contacted the owner of the Chimney Rock Ranch Wellness Retreat
and was granted permission to cross their land. Please be certain you have permission if you hike in this area; southern access to the wildland has already been severely restricted as a result of illegal activities that caused the landowner to close an access road.
Shortly after sunrise we parked at the end of the Chimney Rock Road, next to a closed gate leading to the ranch and by a sign stating that permission was required to access the land, just as I’d done. After climbing over a wooden fence we made our way up a ridge separating Chaffen and Beagle Creeks and soon intersected an old road. This made travel quite easy and we made quick progress along the ridge.
The road became indistinct after the highpoint of the little ridge, then disappeared completely when we reached a steep grassy hill with a barbed wire fence running along the northern border of the Bob Creek Wildland. We crossed the fence, then descended to the low col where we intersected another old road heading east. I started to follow it, but shortly decided it wasn’t going where I wanted it to and instead turned into the forest and started forging my own route.
Off-trail travel was generally easy, but a series of poor decisions designed to avoid small elevation gains and loses soon delivered us to a section of dense forest with copious deadfall with no good option but to go straight through it. It wasn’t terrible, but shortly thereafter I turned and headed straight up the hill I’d been trying to avoid; this was much easier and we soon arrived in a meadow to the north of Chimney Rock.
While it had been sunny up until this point, a large Chinook arch moved in front of the sun not long after we reached the meadow and the skies never cleared again. Regardless, travel was now easy and the route obvious and we soon found ourselves at the base of Chimney Rock. A steep ascent then delivered us to the cliffs of the summit block, which we easily found a way through by detouring to the south. The final 2 m to the summit was an easy scramble, but with no exposure we didn’t have an issue with it.
The summit was surprisingly large and the view was very nice for a little foothill, but with a moderate wind blowing and no sun to keep us warm we didn’t linger very long. I’d considered heading further along the ridge to a more southerly highpoint, but with the weather deteriorating and a bit of general laziness it didn’t seem worthwhile and instead we made our way back to the meadow.
We had little interest in following our path back through the forest, so we instead ascended the grassy hill I’d avoided on the way in, gaining just 55 m of elevation in the process. I need to stop being so lazy and just hike up these darn things! The descent on its northern side was generally easy, a short ascent and descent of another intervening highpoint was similarly straightforward, and we emerged without issue in the meadow on the Wildland border without difficulty.
After a steep ascent we hopped over the border fence and made our way back along the old road to our truck. It was another great day in the mountains in an area in which I haven’t done much hiking! Once I sort out the private land issues in the area I’ll certainly be back to explore some more.