Mount Hoffman – Close, Short & Sweet

October 4, 2020

As this autumn just keeps going and going, I am continuing to hike as much as I can. After a few big weekends doing Mount Temple and Crypt Lake in Waterton, I decided to take it easy. I was invited to go hiking with my cycling friends who needed to be home early – Mt. Hoffman fit the bill perfectly.

Mount Hoffman is a little mountain in Sheep River Provincial Park. We used to take our daughters up to the falls when they were three years old, but the bridge was washed out in the 2013 floods. Even though the bridge was replaced around 2016, this was my first trip back to that side of the Sheep River. I was very happy to be back, and was already eyeing up various mountains that I hadn’t seen for a while.

The view of Tiger Jaws Falls from the new bridge.
View from the other side of the bridge. This is a gorgeous river valley, and you can see why it’s called Tiger Jaws. At the end, you can see the twisted remains of the old iron bridge, which stood for almost 100 years. Photo credit: Sonya.

I live south of Calgary, so the Sheep is close and convenient. I have hiked and cross-country skied just about every trail in the area, as well as cycled the road several times. Ah – it was good to be back!


Hiking boots, poles and day pack kit.

Black bears are really common in the Sheep River, so bring bear spray. Also, keep your dogs on a tight leash. Within seconds of starting on the Mt. Hoffman trail, we had a black bear come check out my friend’s dogs. Bears really do not like dogs, and will charge a dog. We were a group of five, and this bear had no problem coming right up to us.


From the Indian Oils Day Use Area, head towards the Sheep River. Cross the bridge above Tiger Jaws Falls. After the bridge, turn left onto Sheep Trail. Turn right at the junction to Mt. Hoffman. Stay on this trail to the summit.

Trail Head

Park at Indian Oils Day Use area in Sheep River Provincial Park. Walk down to the Sheep River and the bridge over Tiger Jaws Falls.

This is the new bridge over the Sheep River and the Tiger Jaws Falls. Shunga-la-she mountain looms in the background.

Main Trail

Once you cross the bridge, turn Left (east) onto Sheep Trail.

Stay on this super wide highway for about 2 km.

This trail is so wide because it was originally for logging. Now, the width is required because this is one super busy trail!

Keep an eye out for the Mount Hoffman trail heading off to the right. It is fairly big and marked with a cairn, but I’ve heard reports of people marching right on past. If you hit the really deep seasonal creek gorge, you’ve gone too far.

The cairn marking the start of the Mount Hoffman trail. Turn right and start ascending.

The initial hike up through the trees is very nice. The trail is on a steady ascent grade as it snakes around the lookout.

Lovely forest to start hiking up.

A flat, open area signals the start of the steep ascent.

Have a drink and strip down at this point, because the trail decides to go straight up. Sizzle the Dog is very serious about her hikes. She must be first, and she marches straight up.

For whatever reason, this trail literally goes straight up at the 3 km mark. The good news is this only lasts for 500 or 600 m.

Why yes, the trail IS straight up the whole way. And yes, it is an ankle biter 🙂

There is nary a switchback as it climbs pretty much ALL the elevation gain. I did find some attempts at short switchbacks in the trees, as the main trail was dry and slippery. This was especially important coming down.

At the top of the ascent, we were rewarded with the best little forest – wide trees in interesting shapes and sizes.

The forest at the top of the hill climb is gorgeous. Pyro the Dog does not take her hiking as seriously as Sizzle, and instead spends 100% of her time trying to sniff every … single … thing! Photo Credit: Sonya
Sonya and her sister-in-law taking advantage of this unique forest.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the top. Indeed, I was looking through the trees and didn’t see any higher ground. That was until we broke out onto a meadow on the south side of the mountain.

We broke out of the forest to see the view to the summit.

This gave us a lovely view of the summit directly ahead.

Mt. Hoffman is a miniature of every other mountain in Kananaskis, including the ‘scree’ slope to the top. This was highly enjoyable, as the air was nice and cool.

The scree to the summit. What is a K-Country mountain with a scree top?
Sonya and Pyro on the final ledge to the summit.
Ross, Sizzle and Mike on the summit, with a line of mountains normally accessed via Highway 40 on the horizon. Photo credit: Sonya

The distance to the summit of Mt. Hoffman is 4.4 km. Elevation gain is 430 m or 1,419′. Time to the summit is 1 hour, 20 minutes.

A view not normally seen – Shunga-la-she is on the left, and the right is Bluerock Mountain. In the middle is the impressive face of Gibraltar.
The summit of Mount Hoffman is inspiring. I see another adventure in my future.

Mount Hoffman Return

After a short summit lounge, we retraced our steps back.

Sizzle the Dog again leading the way back. Mike got in front of her for a bit, and you should have seen the side-eye she gave to her owner.

It was a good thing we started out fairly early (9:00 am on a Sunday) because the trail was now packed with people coming up. There were several big hiking groups, an entire ringette team, plus lots of smaller groups heading up.

Once we were back on the Sheep Trail, it was even busier.

On the way back, we stopped at the Sheep River and enjoyed the Tiger Jaws Falls.

With such a short amount of time spent hiking, we could really enjoy the river and the falls.
We walked over to Tiger Jaws Falls, just under the new bridge over the Sheep River.

The hike to Mount Hoffman is close, short, and enjoyable. It is an ideal ‘first summit’ for beginners and kids.

If you found this post useful, please do me a huge favour and click the Star button to “Like” it. You can also follow my blog, follow me on Instagram, or join my FaceBook page Al’s Adventurers.


Totals – Tracked on Strava

Date:  October 4, 2020
Group:  Five (Alisen, Mike and three friends)
Distance:   8.8 km
Elevation:  440 m (1,542′)
Time:  2 hours 45 minutes (includes side trip to river)

Navigation to Mt. Hoffman is pretty easy – just make one left, and one right turn. It is very well trafficked. Even though we saw a bear right at the start, we were not too worried about finding more higher up.
The elevation looks ominous from this profile, but it is just relative to the distance. This is a short and sweet mountain, ideal for beginners, kids, and those who do not want to spend all day on the trail.
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Posted in Adventures, Hiking
16 comments on “Mount Hoffman – Close, Short & Sweet
  1. Interesting. I’d never heard of this trail. A good one to check out!

  2. Sonya says:

    Thanks! I just caught that on FB and shred your blog link to Carlene. Great write up. 😀. You’re fun to hike with, that’s for sure!

    Happy Thanksgiving!🍁

    Sent from Sonya’s iPhone


  3. awakenmillion1 says:

    Thanks for the love of nature you have. For I love to read your blogs because just to read through made me to be there

    • alisendopf says:

      Awwww – that is so sweet! Thank you very much. I do LOVE mountains and nature. It fills my soul and makes me a better person. Whenever I can’t get out, then I’m a bit difficult to be around 🙂

      • awakenmillion1 says:

        Wawoo that such a blessing to humanities and am happy to know that you praise God that way. You know whenever we love what God created its one way to praise God

  4. Might as well make the most of it before it starts snowing. This looks like a lovely area to go for a hike. But then again, I consider any area that has a nice view of the mountains lovely.

    • alisendopf says:

      Too true! However, I did manage to find the snow yesterday. I was breaking trail in about a foot of snow at the pass. Unfortunately, no views of the glacier were to be had. I’ll go back in the summer.

  5. Wooooooooo…. Awesome dear❤️ i have done trekking… Hiking yet to do😃

    • alisendopf says:

      Way to go! Good for you. I have been trekking through Peru. I wonder if they are two words for the same thing? I’ve often wondered why it’s trekking there, but hiking here? I’d like to know. Anyone? Thanks for giving me something to think about.

      • Yeah… Even i feel too🤔 but google gave me this answer, hope makes some sense🤔😬Hiking involves a long energetic walk in a natural environment on hiking trails or footpaths for a day or overnight.

        Trekking involves a long vigorous hike in wild natural environment for multiple days. It can be done off hiking trails.

      • alisendopf says:

        Ah. I see. We would say Backpacking instead of trekking. Interesting. Thank you!

  6. Shruti says:

    It seems like ages since I went for a hike. You really boosted my spirits for an adventure soon!

    • alisendopf says:

      Yeah! I am SO glad to hear that. I am a firm believer in adventure. It’s 100% if it doesn’t go as planned, because that’s what makes an adventure so … adventuresome!!! Enjoy.

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