Coyote Hills

March 24, 2021

Coyote Hills was originally on my radar as a way to avoid the intense, blasting west winds during the shoulder seasons in the spring and fall. My original objective was Junction Hill, but since I had been blown off it several times, I thought I should try something more protected. Luckily, Coyote Hills was just across the street, and its east facing slopes were exactly what I was looking for. Now that I’ve hiked Coyote Hills, this ranks as one of the nicer hikes in the south Highwood area. The views of the massive mountains further west are stunning, and the final summit ridge makes the trudge through the lower forest well worth it.

We decided to do the loop traverse, which I would not recommend unless all the snow has melted. Read on to find out why. Also, this is not a good winter hike objective. The slopes are steep, and the final slope to the summit is an unsupported avalanche slide path. While we found just the final lingering winter snow, we went out of our way to avoid even that bit of snow.

This trip report is for the West Coyote Hills. The East Coyote Hills are visible from the winter gates on Highway 40.

Gear

Hiking boots, poles and your regular day pack kit.

Overview

From Highway 940 (south of Highwood House), park at the trail head. There is a bit of a pull out, but no parking lot or facilities. Hike down the old blocked off road, until it’s time to head up and gain elevation. There are two small hills, before a dip in elevation marks the final hill to gain the ridge. To reach the summit, head north west and follow the ridge to the end.

Return the way you came, or follow the steep ridge down to Baril Creek. Cross the creek, and return along the south side of the creek until the highway. Hike back north a short distance to the start.

Parking and Trail Head

From the south gates on Highway 40, we turned south onto Highway 940. After about 2.8 km, we found the vague location of the trailhead on the west side of the road, right before the Baril Creek ‘bridge’. This is an active logging road, so we were sure to pull way over to the side.

We are so happy to have our VW van “Steve” back in action after so many years. We parked just north of the Baril Creek bridge, marked by the guard rails. We hiked up the right hand slope to reach the start of the trail.

Once we walked up the small embankment, the trail itself was easily found on the flats above. We continued across the short meadow, and past a small berm that now blocks access to the old road from motorized vehicles.

Looking across at the berm. On the other side is a very obvious old road that we followed.

Main Trail

Once on the old road, it was easy to follow, even in the snow with no tracks.

The old road is wide and obvious.

After about 800 m from the trail head, we came to a Y junction. This is an opportunity to cross Baril Creek on the loop route.

To cross Baril Creek, turn left. We stayed straight to continue up to Coyote Hills.

After the Y, the trail started to gain elevation as it followed the ridgeline above the creek.

Heading up the ridge above the creek.
Looking back on the trail as it follows the ridgeline above Baril Creek.

At around the 1 km mark, we found a blaze on a tree. This turned out to be the major clue that we should start heading uphill to gain the first of the three Coyote Hills. We kept going past this point a ways, and then had to wind our way up the slope. Fortunately (or confusingly), there are about 1 million animal trails up here, so we did a combination of following faint trails, and striking off uphill.

The blaze on the tree that marked the spot we needed to turn uphill to gain the first of three Coyote Hills. It looked like the trail continued straight for some while, following the creek, so it was good we were paying attention and altered our route.
After trying out a variety of animal and possibly human trails, we eventually just started heading straight up to gain the first Coyote Hill.

Once at the top of the first hill, we could look across at the second hill, and the final summit ridge on the far right.

Almost at the top of the first hill, and looking across at the second hill. In the distance is the final Coyote Hill summit.

The trip from the top of the first hill to the top of the second hill is an uninspired tramp through the forest with nary a view to entertain.

While this is a pretty scenic hike, some parts are just ‘head down’ hiking, which is fine. I love getting lost in my own thoughts while wandering through the mountains.

The view from the top of the second Coyote Hill is pretty sweet, and one could make an argument to stop here.

The view from the second Coyote Hill is pretty impressive. The white peak on the left is Mount Burke. The peak on the right is Raspberry Ridge.

Once on top of the second hill, we could eye up the route to the final hill. The open slope directly across is the route up. The trail snakes up this hill, which is an unsupported slope that looks like it slides often. Even though there is a pretty good trail heading up, we chose to go off trail to avoid the lingering winter snow on the left side.

The open slope directly across is our route to gain the ridgeline. We carefully avoided the lingering snow on the left side.

This is a good opportunity to assess the optional loop. The descent is down the rather steep ridge of the final Coyote Hill to Baril Creek below. Once across the creek, it’s a flat walk back to the road.

This is the descent off the final Coyote Hill, back down to Baril Creek. And yes, it IS that steep.

After losing some elevation, we started up the final slope to gain the ridge of the third and final Coyote Hill.

We stayed on the trail for the lower section, then moved to the right to avoid the snow. At the top was a pretty good cornice, which was thankfully well supported.
Mike going up and over the cornice to reach the final ridge.

Once on the ridge, things finally started to get interesting. First off, the views were absolutely stunning! Being able to see Mount Armstrong up close was spectacular. Then, the ridge itself was delightful. Rocky outcrops made the final push to the summit a delight.

Once on the ridge, we turned right (north) to nab the summit of Coyote Hills. Mount Armstrong dominates the skyline.
The rocky ridge is beautiful, and made this hike completely worthwhile.

The summit of Coyote Hills gives an impressive 360 degree view of pristine mountains.

Distance to the summit of Coyote Hills was 4.2 km. Elevation gain was 567 m. Time to summit was 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Looking down towards Highwood House, Junction Hill, and Holy Cross Mountain.
Looking down Highway 40 towards Highwood Pass. Mist Mountain dominates the skyline at the end.
A great view of Mount Armstrong.
Baril Peak is in the foreground, surrounded by many more.

Coyote Hills Return

One way is to retrace our steps and return the way we came.

However, I thought it’d be fun to do the loop. We hiked back down the ridge to the saddle, and then kept going. It was a lovely walk at first, but then it got pretty steep.

Hiking down the ridge towards Baril Creek. Raspberry Ridge is across the way.
Looking back at the summit ridge. The saddle to do the There and Back is the low point on the other side of this hump.
Mike contemplating our way down. We stayed on the ridge until past that rocky outcrop, but then skirted around to the right to try and lessen the angle a bit. Below, the return trail is visible in the trees. What’s also visible, which we missed at the time, was the lower spur between the creek and the main trail.

Once at the bottom, we had a short bushwhack to Baril Creek. Mike found the ideal crossing point.

Despite the warmer temperatures and no snow for a while, Mike found a spot to cross the creek that was well supported.

It was a rather thick bushwhack up the other side of the creek, trying to find the trail that we knew was there.

We found a side spur, which we thought was the main trail. No one had been down here, and we were post-holing up to our knees in spots. Uh oh. This was going to take forever to get home. Luckily, the spur joined with the main trail, and it was easy walking back to the road.

While this was only about 1 km, the deep snow took forever to trudge through. We were so thankful to see the end of it, and find the main trail.
Once back on the main trail, we found this old structure. I’m not sure its use because the ‘rooms’ would have been so small. Does anyone know what this is all about?

There is a bit of flagging that marks the spot where it’s possible to re-cross Baril Creek (the Y junction on the way in). We elected to keep going straight, which put us on the highway maybe a 200 m away from our van.

We popped out just south of our van, on the south side of Baril Creek.

While I initially chose Coyote Hills to avoid the worst of the west winds, I truly enjoyed this hike. The views at the top were unexpectedly good, and it was nice to explore this area.

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.

Alisen

Totals – Tracked on Strava

Date: March 24, 2021
Group:  Two (Alisen and Mike)
Distance:  10.62  km
Elevation:  695 m (2,294′)
Time:  5 hours (includes lunch & breaks)

Coyote Hills can be done as a There and Back, or you can lose a lot of elevation fast and opt for the loop.
The left side of the elevation profile shows the three hills of Coyote Hills. The loop adds some extra KM at the end.
Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Adventures, Hiking
22 comments on “Coyote Hills
  1. What an amazing hike that must have been. The photos alone are incredible!

  2. Looks like a very doable hike. What do you think … Maybe completely snow free by mid June?

  3. Doug Goodman says:

    I wonder what that structure was. My first thought is an old hunter’s cabin. Also, it looks like maybe spring is coming your way. There’s not quite the amount of snow, is there?

    • alisendopf says:

      Yes, I originally thought a hunter cabin, but the crossbar in the middle makes it way too small. It’s hard to see in the photo, but each room would be wide enough for just a single cot. The wood was notched out like they were building a cabin, and the wood is old enough to be from way back when. Those old timers didn’t have the time or energy to just fool around, so who knows what happened.

      Yes, spring is trying to spring. We are now in Second Winter (what you don’t see, is a major snowstorm blew in that night, and it wasn’t possible to get past the second Coyote Hill the very next day).

      Soon, we will begin the season of Hope. Hope lasts a depressingly long time. We normally don’t officially say we are in Spring until the May Long weekend (which is the weekend before your May long weekend).

      • Doug Goodman says:

        I’m so glad to hear you say “second winter!” Not because I like the idea of it, but because I’ve talked about “second summer” for years, so it seems clear that if parts of the world closer to the equator can have a second summer, points farther north and south would have second winters. I send you and your husband as much sympathy as a second summer sufferer can give to people in their second winter. 🙂

      • alisendopf says:

        Second summer… if only! 😂

  4. Mom in the Mtns says:

    This looks beautiful! Gotta love those loop trails in the spring where you accidentally end up postholing back to the car. I almost did one of those last week!

    • alisendopf says:

      Yikes! Glad you avoided a heinous post-holer. They really are soul-sucking experiences.
      It’s been a while since I almost got myself into trouble, so it was a good wake-up call.

  5. A beautiful hike with amazing views!

  6. You are a strong hiker..me..a bit weak..but looks like a great site to see

  7. I’m always amazed as to how you’re able to find the trailhead and then navigate some of these trails. Us hikers in Ontario are so pampered as most of our trails are marked. The views of the surrounding mountains look incredible. I can see why you wouldn’t want to hike this trail when there’s lots of snow, it looks challenging enough as is without it!

    • alisendopf says:

      Well, you hit the nail on the head! Finding the trail head is the absolute CRUX of any hike. Last year, my daughter lead a trip up Mist Mountain. She started out on the wrong trailhead, hiked up 2,000′ of Storm Mountain, finally got above tree line to see where she was, then had to hike back down. They backtracked until they found the correct trail head, and then climbed Mist Mountain. All in, she probably did close to 7,000′ of elevation gain that day. However, this is nothing compared to BC. Alberta has a paved or gravel road to the hikes. In BC, you’re on a narrow, active logging road with ruts, holes, etc and always the possibility of getting high-centered, stuck, or break something. Very stressful driving if you don’t have a big 4×4 truck!

  8. Hey! I nominated you for my interview with an adventurer. Don’t feel obligated to participate, but if you do I would love to read your responses as I always enjoy reading your posts. Have a super day!

    https://tiaonthetrail.ca/2021/04/08/outstanding-blogger-award-nomination-interview-with-an-adventurer/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: