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Elbow Hill
Kananaskis, Alberta
November 21, 2020

Distance: 12.5 km
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 387 m

In Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, Gillean describes a 10 km hike around a hill and, for added interest, tosses in a short trail to a viewpoint on the hill. But with a little extra effort, it appeared feasible to continue to the hill's lightly-treed summit. Bounded by Glasgow Creek and South Glasgow Creek, I had called it Glasgow Hill, but later realized it's been named Elbow Hill.

From the parking lot, Dinah and I walked up the road to the suspension bridge. We crossed the bridge and followed Big Elbow Trail, a wide trail that cuts through the forest like a road. 2.8 km after the bridge, where the trail drops and turns left, we found the path to the viewpoint. We were pleasantly surprised to climb out of the trees immediately, and we ascended a steep little ridge to a cairned viewpoint just 130 m from Big Elbow Trail.

After the viewpoint, we continued on a trail that entered the forest. It was likely an animal trail, but even under a few inches of snow, it was fairly easy to follow. It led to our next point of interest: a steep, grassy slope at 509267. Here expansive views exceeded those on the viewpoint. We hiked to the top of the meadow and re-entered the trees.

Keeping below the ridgetop which appeared strewn with deadfall, we continued our ascent using animal trails when we could. Eventually it became practical to gain the ridge and follow it to the summit. There we found a cairn and caught glimpses of Mount Glasgow through the trees. We soon headed back down.

Since we were hiking a loop, there was no need to go all the way back to Big Elbow Trail. Before reaching the viewpoint, we dropped down a steep slope to South Glasgow Creek. We followed the broad, dry creekbed west until it turned. We left it, entered the trees and looked for Glasgow Creek trail. That wasn't easy: several inches of snow made it difficult to discern one human trail from the numerous animal trails. But after a couple hundred metres, we stumbled upon it.

The best feature of Glasgow Creek trail is the huge meadow it runs through, providing a welcomed relief from the forest. Then the trail plunges back into the trees. By now the sun had dipped below the mountaintops leaving us with a murky plod back while floundering on a trail we could barely see in the snow. The trail parallels Elbow River, but there are few river views until it approaches the suspension bridge. We didn’t relish our last couple of hours of hiking, but undoubtedly it would be more pleasant in dry conditions and in good light. But it wasn't enough to detract from our enjoyment of climbing Elbow Hill.

KML and GPX Tracks

View of Glasgow Hill after leaving the parking lot

Glasgow Hill from the suspension bridge

Hiking up Big Elbow Trail

Starting up the viewpoint trail

The ridge opens up immediately

Looking back before the trail enters the trees

In the absence of boot prints, these huge paw prints could only belong to wolves

We continued along a trail through the forest

Going up the steep meadow. The sharp peak in the background is Mount Glasgow.

South Glasgow Creek lies below

We took advantage of animal trails on the way to the top

Following the ridge

Reaching the summit

Standing by the summit cairn

Summit views were limited to breaks in the trees

Heading back down

On our way down, we left the trail and came to a bluff overlooking South Glasgow Creek

We dropped down a steep slope to the creek

Hiking up the creek

Looking back at the slope we descended and Forgetmenot Ridge

When the creek turned left, we continued straight ahead

Following Glasgow Creek trail in the trees

Coming to the Glasgow Creek meadow

Nihahi South Summit appears ahead

The trail leaves the creek and heads back into the trees

The trail drops down to cross a boggy area ahead

The trail runs alongside the Elbow River. The suspension bridge appears ahead.

Back at the bridge

82 J/15 Bragg Creek

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