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Willow Creek Hills
Chain Lakes, Alberta
February 23, 2013

Distance: 12.6 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 300 m

The hills and ridges west of Chain Lakes offer fine winter hiking and can be accessed by crossing the frozen lake (in realty, a reservoir). A few years ago, Dinah and I hiked the ridge north of Willow Creek, so today we returned to climb a hill east of the creek.

After parking our car by the edge of the lake, we first had to determine if the ice was safe. But this was easily done as the lake not only supported a small population of fishermen, but also acted as a parking lot for their trucks and SUVs. It looked pretty safe to me! We put Micro-Spikes on our boots, threw on our packs and set off across the lake.

The base of the hills can be reached a few ways, but after crossing the lake, we hiked up Willow Creek past the bridge and then used roads and cutlines to gain the ridge. We hiked to a bare but cheerless summit. Snow fell from overcast skies, plunging our surroundings into gloom; the views were rather dreary. There were higher hills close at hand, although they all appeared to have treed tops. Had it been a nicer day, we might have pushed on, but today we turned around. On the way back, we cut directly to Willow Creek to take in a longer stretch of the creek. It was tougher going than the road because of snow, but more scenic. I'd like to return to explore these hills on a sunny winter's day when I can take brighter photos.

KML and GPX Tracks

Crossing the lake

Willow Creek

A newly-built bridge spans the creek

After the bridge, we kept on the main road only later to cross a field and get onto another road

The sun made a brief appearance as we hiked up the road

Our destination lies ahead

We followed a cutline to the ridge

Looking back at the lakes

Hiking through aspens

On the ridge crest. Willow Ridge to the north appears mostly snow-free.

We followed the ridge to the top

Graupel began falling

Looking back as we approached the summit

The summit

Heading back down the cutline. The lake is barely visible (mouse over for a close-up).

Back on Willow Creek

82 J/1 Langford Creek

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