The high point at Cypress Hills

Spring Creek trail at Cypress Hills

I was originally planning to only ski two days at Cypress Hills but the good conditions, nice grooming, and new trails to explore kept me there an extra two days. 

Students on the Spring Creek trail

The viewpoint at Horseshoe Canyon is almost the highest point in the Cypress Hills. The only way to get there in the winteris to ski up the steep Horseshoe Canyon trail, or ski along Murray Hill road(MHR) which involves very little elevation gain. I chose the latter.

The final 1.5K of MHR between Ferguson Hill and Horseshoe Canyon was groomed yesterday.

Today I started out on the Spring Creek trails. There was a school bus in the parking lot, so I knew the trails might be busy. I encountered most of the group at an intersection. 

Murray Hill road

After skiing 1.5K, I was at the Golf Course road. 200 metres on the groomed Golf Course road and I was at Murray Hill road. It’s a gravel road in the summer used by vehicles. It’s groomed  in the winter for about 4.5k, ending at Horseshoe Canyon viewpoint.  There were a few thin spots which were easy enough to avoid. 

After 6.2k, I was at the viewpoint.

Arriving at the Horseshoe Canyon viewpoint

The viewpoint is impressive as you can see all the way to Medicine Hat. The snow up top is windblown, so I had to remove my skis for about 75 metres where the snow was too thin.

A stone’s throw from the viewpoint is the start of the Horseshoe Canyon trail. I started climbing it from the bottom yesterday but the snow was too soft from the fresh grooming and I only went 900 metres before turning around. I think it was the steepest 900 metres though! 

Horseshoe Canyon trail

At the top, the Horseshoe Canyon trail is beautiful and it’s level for the first kilometre. Trees offer protection from the westerly winds. The snow cover was excellent and the grooming was firmed up after a night of cold weather. A moose or deer enjoyed walking on it for about 200 metres. 

When I reached 1k, I saw the drop of doom ahead of me and called it a day. I would have explored it a little further but unfortunately I was pressed for time. 

Horseshoe Canyon trail. 50 metres ahead, the drop of doom awaits.

On my return, I skied MHR all the way, avoiding the Golf Course road and the Spring Creek trails. It stops short of the trailhead by about 250 metres so I had to walk that stretch on a plowed road. 

Despite an air temperature of +2, the snow was still cold and showed no signs of deterioration. In treed areas, there were lots of pine needles in the snow from yesterday’s powerful winds. I used VR55(0/-3) and had excellent grip. 

It was a terrific four days of skiing in the Cypress Hills. 

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