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Sparrowhawk Hike

Where:

  • Sparrowhawk

 

When:

  • March 13, 2021

 

Who:

  • Ed, Jace, Dave, Craig, Tomonori, Nicole, Erin, Oak, Rod, Bauer, Jeff, Anne-Marie

 

Trailhead:

  • the trailhead is on the Spray Lakes Road, 23 km south of Canmore
  • the trailhead is not marked, and the trail starts on the east side of the road across from the entrance to the Sparrowhawk Day Use Area
  • the faint trail angles 45 degrees to the right across an embankment into the trees

 

 

Degree of difficulty:

  • 350 meters of elevation gain and 7 km distance, but we were all over the area due to deep snow conditions
  • the new trail starts with a gentler climb than the old one as they carved a new trail to allow the bikers to access the High Rockies trail (although we took the old trail straight up the mountain)
  • after a short distance, the trail crosses the High Rockies biking trail so be careful to continue straight up the valley
  • a little further along there are markings (.9 km into the hike) where you turn to the right as the straight-ahead trail leads up to Read’s Ridge and Tower
  • after the initial climb, the trail rolls through the trees, but in the winter, it all depends on who sets the track, as it’s often not on the actual trail
  • we followed a slippery path just below the rockface, but once we reentered the trees, the snow was too deep to continue along (we should have had snowshoes)
  • we tried to go up the steep bank on the right-hand side of the rockface, but it was too dangerous with the scree field where we were sending rocks catapulting down the slope and the slippery conditions
  • we backtracked along the rockface and tried to go up to Read’s Ridge, but we were post-holing part of the way and ran out of gas, so we turned around
  • the hike took us just under 3 hours

 

 

Interesting notes:

  • the Sparrowhawk area is quite scenic when you are not in the treed portions
  • the area is flanked by Mount Sparrowhawk, Read’s Ridge, Red Mountain, Mount Bogart, and Mount Buller
  • at the top of the valley, you can look back for a picturesque view of Spray Lakes and Mount Nestor across the valley
  • during the second half of September, you can observe the larch trees changing color on this trail, and it’s less crowded than the trails in the Lake Louise area
  • Sparrowhawk Mountain was in the running for the site of the 1988 Winter Olympics ski venue
  • the mountain was named in 1917 for HMS Sparrowhawk a British destroyer that sank in WW1 during the Battle of Jutland