A year and a half ago Dinah, Sonny and I stood on the highest point in the Cat Creek Hills and gazed east across an abyss at a higher, unnamed ridge. It was impractical to attempt the ridge from where we were, but fortunately there's an easy way to reach it. Using a prospecting road one can reach the pass between Junction Hill and the ridge. From the pass, it's possible to gain the south end of the ridge and follow the crest north to the summit. The three of us got together and did just that.
I got the idea for the route from the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide. The book describes two roads – the Ford Highwood Colliers Roads – of which we used the lower road. Trees and bushes constricted the road to a single track, but except for a couple of fallen trees, it was in good shape. After hiking for about two hours, we saw a grassy knoll on our right and were naturally drawn to it. It provided an excellent view of the surrounding mountains, including our objective. Since Stony Creek runs parallel to it, I refer to it as “Stony Ridge.”
After taking a good look around from the knoll, we dropped back onto the road and proceeded to the pass. After the knoll, the road winds through trees before breaking out onto an open slope. From there we saw a way up Stony Ridge. Before reaching the pass, we left the road, dropped down a way, and ascended the ridge. The only thing separating us from the summit was an enjoyable 1.5 km ridgewalk.
At first, trees blocked our view, but farther along they began to disappear so we could take in our surroundings. On our left, the Cat Creek Hills appeared, while behind us, Junction Hill rose up like a ship's prow. But on our right, trees lined the ridge and prevented a clear view of Holy Cross Mountain. Ahead, grass competed with trees for the round summit of Stony Ridge. We prefer a summit open to the sky, of course, but sadly, the grass was losing ground and the forest capped the top. However, we weren't able to ascertain that until we actually stood on it. We didn't stay long and returned the same way.
Despite the treed summit, Stony Ridge was a delightful hike, even late in the season. I think if the ridge had an official name, it would be popular.
Starting up the road. The grassy knoll is above Sonny. The summit is well in the background:
the tiny bump with a couple of snow patches.
The trail is an overgrown road
The trail passes through a meadow
We left the trail to hike up the knoll
Looking southeast. Miller Creek Hills left, in the background.
Junction Hill and Stony Ridge
Back on the road, we make our way to Stony Ridge
We'll soon drop down and head for the snow-covered ramp above Dinah
Looking back down the road
Starting up the ramp
On the ramp (mouse over to look back)
Gaining the ridge crest
We soon came across this stony section on the ridge
Dinah coaxes Sonny off his pedestal
The west side of the ridge opens up and we can see Junction Hill
The summit is ahead
A rocky section before the summit (mouse over to look back)
The ridge drops down a bit just before the summit
Heading to the top of Stony Ridge (mouse over to look back)
We skirted along the edge of the forest before realizing the summit was in the trees
This is a summit!?
Cat Creek Hills
And there's the road
Looking back from the road
Mount Head 82 J/7
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