Ridgetop trail in Cypress Hills
I posted that photo knowing nobody would guess it, but thanks to Sara M, Martin, Sophie and Getsaround for at least making an attempt.
Starting out on Ridgetop
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading today’s trip reports and seeing the photos. Amazing distances that some of you have covered. Nice to see the Sandy McNabb photos from M & J with such excellent conditions.
Ridgetop in Cypress Hills
I’m on my annual trip to Cypress Hills/Elkwater which is just a short distance from Medicine Hat where I have a brother. The kids are out of school so it’s a lot busier around Elkwater than I’m used to.
There’s a nice system of trackset trails here known as the Spring Creek trails but they weren’t on my agenda for today. I had one thing in mind, and that was to ski Ridgetop from the south end to the viewpoint. It was the only section of trail here which I had never skied, but I biked it several times last summer and fell in love with it.
While biking the trail last summer I spent a lot of time removing rocks, so I was happy to only see a couple embedded rocks on the trail.
I didn’t get on the trail until 4:15 pm but I figured I could make it to the viewpoint and back by sunset. The distance to the viewpoint from the south trailhead is 6.2K with very little elevation change, although there is one fairly steep downhill to a creek and back up the other side.
Ridgetop: Whose tracks?
The trail is groomed but not trackset. It would be a skate skier’s paradise. The elevation at the trailhead is 1430 metres which is very similar to the Canmore Nordic Centre.
Arriving at the viewpoint where you can see Elkwater lake
The first 300 metres is extremely exposed to the wind and had thin snow cover. Most of it was skiable, but there are some gravelly bits where you have to be careful. I did remove my skis and walked for about 20 metres. As you can see in the photos, there are some trees along the trail, but if it’s a windy day like today, you’ll be fighting the breeze.
The air temperature was -7°C and VR45(-2/-8) worked well for the few times I needed it. 95% of the time I was double-poling. The snow was abrasive so the wax wore off by the time I reached the viewpoint. On the way back, I skated wherever I needed some grip.
Ridgetop: Setting sun on the way back
Last summer, every time I reached 5K, I was greeted by a hawk circling overhead and whistling which was beautiful to see and hear. There was no hawk today, but I saw numerous deer tracks. I’m surprised with all the deer tracks that I didn’t see any cougar tracks. Cypress Hills is known to have a large cougar population.
I’ve added a few photos from last summer.
Who will be first? Stoney trail(the Mystery Trail) is being trackset tonight. When I skied it on Sunday, it had only been groomed but it was a lot of fun. It is also a trail that’s quite exposed with wonderful scenery but tonight’s winds might fill in the tracks in places. The closest trailhead is the Stoney trailhead which has morphed into the Troll Falls trailhead. Hay Meadow is the shortest way to acces it.
The Skogan Pass trails are also being trackset along with Hay Meadow and Ruthie’s.
The Tunnel Mountain trails in Banff were trackset yesterday.
Ridgetop trail at Cypress Hills Feb 18, 2021