High Noon Hills

High Noon Hills refers to a wedge of land south of Hwy. 546 bounded to the east by the K Country boundary and to the west by lower Long Prairie Creek near its confluence with the Sheep River. Within it lies a couple of foothills whose open southwest-facing slopes shed snow early, so naturally they’re a good choice for early spring and late fall. In summer you’re contending with cattle for the trails, but also enjoying meadows crammed with prairie flowers. You can extend your day by hiking a network of trails that extend west to Sandy McNabb Campground and Day-use Area (closed for upgrading). See the Sandy McNabb Hill blog for more details.

High Noon Hills

Fall hiking in the High Noon Hills

The following describes a walk to the hill at GR 785124 and a visit to the Sheep River (lunch?) with an option to ascend the second foothill and return via a different route. For the other trails follow the map and your nose.

Park off-road on the verge 1.9 km from the K Country boundary where there is room for 2 or 3 cars. Mount the small bank on the south side of the highway and pass through a gate in a fence. Immediately turn left, shortly cutting right through a narrow belt of trees into a large southwest-facing meadow. The trail follows the left edge of the meadow to the northwest ridge, then swings right through a few aspens into the pines. Much clearer now, the trail undulates along the northwest ridge through pines, aspen woodland and meadows to the grassy summit.

Meadows sweep down to the south and west, allowing panoramic  views of Front Range peaks between Mts. Head and Glasgow. To the east rises hill 794125, Down below in Long Prairie Creek, you can just spot the old shack of the South Sheep Stock Association camp. Descend the south ridge to a saddle crossed by a well-defined cow/horse trail and turn left (to right is the return trail).

Long Prairie Hills

Nearing the top of the first hill on a beautiful spring day.

The trail winds uphill onto a sub-ridge where you meet the connecting trail from Sandy McNabb Hills. Keep left and descend to the col between the two hills. Turn right and continue straight on the main trail that drops a little then traverses the southwest slope of the hill to the K Country boundary at a fence. Turn right and downhill, following the fence line trail. After the boundary fence wanders off to the left, continue on the trail that shortly winds dramatically down to the Sheep River, reached at the bend just downstream of the confluence with Long Prairie Creek.

Return to the boundary fence where those that want to can continue to climb up the fence line trail to the summit of hill 794125 for a slightly better view westwards then zip down the steeper west slope to the col. Otherwise, continue the way you came to the col and the south ridge of hill 785124.

This time continue along the cow/horse trail, which returns you to your vehicle. It’s all very painless. After an area of aspen deadfall, you descend slightly to join another trail in a meadow and turn right. Go straight through alternating damp meadows and small pines/aspens. At end of meadow no. 3, continue along a grassy avenue scarcely recognizable as old track. Shortly after it starts turning right, continue ahead on a trail through a strip of pine forest into the big southwest facing meadow you started out on.  Preferably take the third trail to left that passes a salt lick in the trees and can be traced for some distance across the meadow, aiming to the left of prominent brown deadfall. Here you are just metres away from the gate in the fence and the highway.

Long Prairie Hills map

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