Monday, September 10, 2007

Deer Ridge - August 6, 2007

Deer Ridge Loop - Trail Particulars: Trail is accessible from the Sibbald Lake Recreation Area (Just off Hwy 68), and shares part of the Eagle Hill trail. Loop is about 6.5 k and takes about 2-3 hours to complete. Moderate, except for one section of uphill that lasts about 1k.

The heat wave was finally breaking and not a moment too soon. N and I wanted a relatively short but new hike and picked Deer Ridge in the Sibbald area. It was right next to the Old Buck Loop trail. The nice thing about this area is despite the numerous trails and plenty of campgrounds in the area, we never seem to see other people out hiking.

The only word to describe the beginning of this hike is "wet". Fifteen minutes in, both N and I were soaked from the knees down, thanks to a very narrow trail running through waist high weeds and grasses. The trail is similar to Old Buck in that it starts off in a dew-filled field and winds its way around the nearby ridge. With Moose Pond immediately to our left, there was no shortage of moisture in this field.

Eventually the path splits away from the shared trail with the Eagle Hill trail. The trail comes to a junction (thankfully signed) and a gate. Going through the gate means continuing along Eagle Hill (popular with the cyclists). The Deer Ridge trail turns away from the gate, crosses a small bridge, and almost seems to double back the way it initially came.

After a short walk, the trail turns uphill. Be sure to keep an eye out for the orange diamond-shaped trail marker against a tree to your right -- the trail itself seems to disappear into the field and it's easy to miss the right turn uphill.

Some may wish they had missed it. This is by far the most difficult part of the trail, about 1 km of steep uphill climbing. It's a great workout for the legs though and totally worth the effort when you make it to the top.

At the top, look for a wooden bar (used as a place to hitch horses), as this marks the detour to the viewpoint.

At the viewpoint there is an assortment of rocks and surfaces to sit yourself down and enjoy the fruits of your labor, which is what N and I did. The previous shot was of the range to the west of the viewpoint. If you look straight down and a little to the south you get to see the amazing view of the river winding its way through the valley.

The hike down is uneventful, looping back on the opposite side of Moose Pond. One of my guide books indicated there were remnants of a structure from aboriginal sun dances, but we weren't able to see it. Late season flowers and berries were sprouting though, and I snapped a few photos.

Deer Ridge was a great view and that one hill gave us a good workout. This is an excellent short hike, but definitely not for those looking for a full day hike. And if you're hiking first thing in the morning -- prepare to get very wet!

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