March 26, 2021
In my quest for good shoulder season hikes that are protected from the howling west winds, I found Cox Hill. This is quite a popular hike, but I have to admit this was my first time in the Sibbald area. It was all new to me. I enjoyed the challenge of figuring out the highway to get there, and then seeing familiar landmarks, like Moose Mountain, from a completely different angle.
I hiked Cox Hill after a pretty big snowfall. We broke trail the whole way, but it was on a supportive base so the going wasn’t too bad. In the winter, this is a hiking only trail, but in the summer it’s wide open for hikers, mountain biking and horses. With all these users on the trail, be sure to know your passing etiquette, and share the trail.
Hiking boots, poles and regular day pack kit.
In the winter, add in gators and microspikes. Be avalanche aware. The final slope to the ridge is exposed with no trees.
From the trailhead, take the left trail to cross Jumpingpound Creek at the bridge. At the T intersection, turn Right. Stay on the trail until you reach the ridge, which marks Cox Hill NE Summit. To nab the true summit, turn right (southwest) and walk to the end. Return the way you came.
Parking and Trail Head
From Highway 68, take the Powderface Trail.
Prior to the winter gate is the Dawson Equestrian Campground. I parked here in the winter. In the summer, double-check that it is okay for non-equestrian vehicles to park here. At the very least, be aware that horse trailers take a lot of room to maneuver and turn around, so don’t take up the whole lot with cars.
At the east end of the parking lot is the trailhead.
Take the trail on the left, which leads to a bridge for humans and bikes. The lower, right hand trail is for horses to cross Jumpingpound Creek.
After a short walk, turn right at the T intersection.
Once on this main trail, follow it to the Cox Hill ridge. Most of the trail is in the trees.
There is a good lookout prior to the turnoff to Shell Hill.
When we arrived at the open slope below the ridge, I took stock before heading up. Storm snow is unpredictable, so we took basic precautions. We spread out, so only one person was on the slope at a time. We were also careful to not ‘stack’ the hikers in our group as we went up the switchbacks. We would only stop and wait on the sides, near mature trees.
Right below the ridge, we took a minute to bundle up. The wind would be howling as soon as we crested the ridge, so it made sense to add layers here in the comfort of the leeward side.
Once on the ridge – wow! The views are spectacular.
From the Cox Hill Ridge, we turned right (south west), and continued along the ridge for another 1 km to the high point of Cox Hill.
Like all ridges, this is where we found the interesting rock formations. I would have liked to see it with less snow, but oh well.
The official distance to the summit of Cox Hill is 9 km, but we recorded 8.3 km. Elevation gain is 872 m. Time to summit was 3 hours and 45 minutes in deep, fresh snow.
The view on the other side is Moose Mountain. I’m so used to seeing Moose from the south side. It’s amazing how small the area between highways 66 and 68 really is.
Cox Hill Return
The summit of Cox Hill need not be your stopping point. Those with multiple vehicles could keep going and connect with Jumpingpound Ridge trail. There are quite a few trails that interconnect, so you are only limited by your imagination and legs.
For the rest of us mere mortals, we did a There and Back trip, and returned the way we came.
When you are almost back to the parking lot, remember to turn left at the T intersection. Shortly after turning left, there is another Y for the bridge crossing. Humans go right, and horses go left.
Cox Hill was my first foray into the Sibbald area, but I don’t think it will be my last. An enjoyable shoulder season hike with lovely views of new (to me!) mountains.
Totals – Tracked on Strava
Date: March 26, 2021
Group: Three (Alisen, Sonya and Margaret)
Distance: 15.86 km
Elevation: 872 m (2,878′)
Time: 6 hours (includes lunch & breaks)