20 February 2017
This was a really short but enjoyable winter hike. We brought our snowshoes, but ended up not using them at all, thanks in part due to existing tracks from a previous party.
Baril Creek Trail was well packed and provided a quick way to access the south side of Coyote Hill. The only obstacle today was a short stint of light bushwhacking and stepping through knee-deep snow where we left the trail and crossed Baril Creek (mostly frozen over) to the north. After this, we easily hiked up open grassy slopes to gain the south ridge, which rises gently all the way to the summit. There are really no problems on this ridge, it’s pretty much just a pleasant hike and we were surprised how quickly we reached the summit.
On a sunny day like this, gorgeous views can be had of the Highwood area to the north, including Mist Mountain, Mount Head and Holy Cross Mountain. And of course, Mount Armstrong’s big bulwark-like shape is hard to ignore on the western horizon.
I love loop routes, so to make a circle out of today’s trip we backtracked about 400 m, then made a sharp left turn to the east and headed down open snow slopes parallel to the trees, just as described in Nugara’s Snowshoeing book. Fortunately for us, we discovered some old snowshoe tracks in the deep snow here that allowed us to simply hike down in our boots. After going up and over a couple of minor bumps, we descended through light forest back down to a packed trail on the north side of Baril Creek. This good trail led us to a small pull-out at the road from where we walked the few hundred metres back to our car.
We were glad we chose a clockwise loop for this trip, because it allowed us to hike up the snow-free south slopes first, then quickly descend snow slopes on the eastern side. It also meant that we had the sun in our backs most of the way instead of staring right into it. All in all, Coyote Hill was a nice and easy winter hike with surprisingly good views.
DISCLAIMER: Use at your own risk for general guidance only! Do not follow this GPX track blindly but use your own judgement in assessing terrain and choosing the safest route.