There are very few official day hikes accessible from the Sheep River Road (Hwy 546) west of Turner Valley. Sure, there are lots of trails shown on the map, but most of them are long-distance equestrian trail that are often wet and muddy that don’t lead to places where hikers want to go. Some of these were decommissioned following a poorly conceived 2006 master plan. New trails were supposed to be built before the decommissioning, but of course weren’t. In addition, there has been virtually no trail maintenance in the Sheep River area for many years. Note, that out of our ten best day hikes, less than half of them are on official (“non” maintained, trails.
Here are our picks for the best day hikes in the Sheep River Area. They vary in effort required from an easy walk up Sandy McNabb Hill to moderate ascents of Volcano Ridge and Mount Ware and a long hike to Junction Lookout. Enjoy!
Carry Ridge Loop 8.4 km
One of our favourite early-spring hikes. Carry Ridge, a ruler-straight ridge running SE-NW between Macabee Creek and Ware Creek, is named after Bob Carry who homesteaded on the site of Anchor D in 1912. By using a variety of trails and a return via the west fork of Mudsprings Creek, you can make a 5.8 km loop for a total of 8.4 km. The hike can be extended by hiking farther along the ridge. See blog.
Sandy McNabb Hill 4.2 km return
Sandy McNabb Hill and the adjoining hills to the east are always enjoyable to hike. Using the hills and their surfeit of trails you can make short easy loop hikes all year round from the Sandy McNabb Recreation Area. See blog for map. You won’t find Sandy McNabb Hill on your topo map or on the Gem Trek map. For some unaccountable reason the contour lines were deleted sometime in the 1950s. The hike incorporates most of the Sandy McNabb Interpretive Trail.
Long Prairie Ridge 5.4 km loop
The trail along Long Prairie Ridge in the midst of the Sandy McNabb Ski Trails is an easy and enjoyable walk along a grassy ridge top with views. Combined with Long Prairie Loop, it is sure to become a popular walk with novice hikers, especially in the spring and fall.
Foran Grade Loop 6.6 km loop
In its short distance this popular loop takes in a scenic traverse above the Sheep River, a pass and an easy ridge. The loop starts on Sheep Trail, then heads up Windy Point Trail a way to the pass between Windy Point and Foran Grade Ridge. It returns to the parking area on Foran Grade Trail. An excellent choice for the novice hiker.
Mount Hoffmann 8.4 km return
Christian Hoffmann’s mountain is an excellent day trip from Indian Oils trailhead. See blog. The view west and north is stupendous, taking in everything from Junction Mountain through Gibraltar to Bluerock Mountain and beyond. The going is occasionally steep but easy to follow. You can download a gps tracklog from Trailfinder.
Green Mountain 13.2 km return
This hill appears a dark green mound from Hwy. 546, but concealed behind that facade of Lodgepole pines lies grassy slopes and fascinating sandstone escarpments facing south and west. Green Mountain is a popular climb despite there being no trail to the top. The usual route is a moderately steep pull up a southwest ridge direct to the summit, most people descending more or less the same way.
Junction Lookout 25.6 km return
Standing on a high grassy ridge below the northeast wall of Junction Mountain, Junction Lookout is an obvious attraction, though not quite as popular as Moose Mountain on account of the length of its access trail. The usual one day bash on a good, but tedious fireroad starts from Indian Oils trailhead on Hwy. 546 and follows Sheep trail eastwards to the junction at 665102 above Dyson Creek. Fit mountain bikers can bike all the way.
Missinglink Mountain 4.0 km return
The grassy western escarpment of Missinglink Mountain offers the shortest route to a fabulous summit viewpoint. The recommended trail, which avoids the cutline was flagged in late 2015. On entering the trees after the initial meadows, look for a flagged route that crosses the creek and climbs open slopes. It eventually joins the cutline, then a little higher makes a big loop left up the steeper upper slopes before traversing right onto the ridge.
Volcano Ridge Loops 16.3 km return
A good workout through typical foothills country. The 5 km round trip to Volcano Summit is worth the effort on a clear day for its 360 degree view. There are several possible loops as shown on the map on Trailfinder. Our recommended loop is up Volcano Ridge Trail and down South Volcano Ridge. See blog.
Mount Ware 15.2 km return
This shapely little mountain overlooking Gorge Creek at 592155 has characteristics of a higher peak: steepness of ascent, crags and an airy summit ridge. Expect a wee bit of easy scrambling and possible routefinding difficulties down in the forest. See blog.