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Some Nice Views Of Barrier Lake From One Of The Open Areas

Horton Hill Hike in Kananaskis Country

The Horton Hill hike, just an hour’s drive from Calgary in Kananaskis Country isn’t going to be the kind of hike most people are looking for. There is no trailhead, signage, or even a formal trail, though there is the odd piece of fluorescent flagging tape around. But it is surprisingly easy to find your way to the top, if you have any sense of direction and you just head up.

Horton Hill is the forested hill located behind the Tim Horton Children’s Ranch. There used to be a trail from the ranch the kids could use, but no longer. For now, you access it via the south ridge.

General directions for the Horton Hill hike

This is a short hike. It’s only 1.7 km one way with an elevation gain of 320 m – so much of the hike is on the steep side.

We parked and then headed for the picnic tables in the trees – in the opposite direction of the trail to Baldy Pass. There were footsteps we followed for about 100 m before turning right and heading up through some open areas, past some massive Douglas firs.

We basically looked for faint trails, then looked up to see what was in the distance and adjusted our trajectory. I know that isn’t very helpful, but once on the ground, I think you’ll find much of the route surprisingly obvious, especially if you keep heading up.

The steepest part was early on in the hike. About two thirds of the way up, we reached a lovely open area with far-reaching views of Barrier Lake and the surrounding mountains. From there, we took off up through open woods of aspen to reach a more densely wooded section before the final climb to an opening grassy area. We did a bit of walking along the high point before retreating to the trees and a lunch with a view.

According to Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Trail Guide, you can continue along the ridge for a further 2.3 km to reach Ridge 413572. It’s an out and back ridge hike with a further gain of 192 m. From what we saw of the initial trail, it looks like you have to make your way through a forest that looks like a game of pick up sticks. Reportedly there is lots of open pine forest but we just weren’t in the mood for some major bushwacking.

We turned right up here
We turned right and started climbing up Horton Hill here
We looked for open areas and faint tracks
We looked for open areas and faint tracks
Not too interesting in the tree on the way up Horton Hill
Not too interesting in the trees on the way up Horton Hill
Some nice views of Barrier Lake from one of the open areas
Some nice views of Barrier Lake from one of the open areas
Continue up through a pretty section of trees
Continue up through a pretty section of open trees
Looking towards the Sibbald Creek Trail
Looking towards Midnight Peak and Baldy Pass (far right in photo)
It looks like pick up sticks near the top
It looks like pick up sticks near the top
Checking to see is its worth trying to go further
On the way to a lunch spot after checking to see is its worth trying to go further
A lunch spot near the summit out of the wind
A lunch spot near the summit out of the wind
View from the summit
View from the summit of Horton Hill
We found a geocache at the top
We found a geocache at the top

Finding the trailhead

There is no official trailhead but at least there is a mainstream parking lot, located at the Lusk Creek Provincial Recreation Area, here on Google maps.  From Calgary, it’s about a one hour, 80 km drive via the Trans-Canada Highway, Highway 40 and a short 1.8 km on Highway 68. The parking lot is a five-minute drive southeast of the turnoff to the Tim Horton Children’s Ranch. You can also access it via the Sibbald Creek Trail off of the Trans-Canada Highway – as you are driving from Calgary towards the Highway 40 exit.

Start at the end of the parking lot to go up Horton Hill
Start at the end of the parking lot to go up Horton Hill
Look for faint trails past the picnic table
Look for faint trails past the picnic table

More hikes you might enjoy in Alberta

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards. 

The off trail Horton Hill hike in Alberta's Kananaskis Country

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

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