Nov 202017
Hunchback Hills Hiking Trail

Hunchback Hills, in one of the quieter areas of Kananaskis, are an interconnected series of bumps worthy of a visit. You can hike all of them as part of an extended horseshoe route of sorts – best done by those with good nav skills. Or you can make an out and back of it, as most poeple seem to do and take in the best part – the main summit. Prepare for excellent views of surrounding hills, peaks off in the distance, expansive forests, a stunning blue lake and all kinds of visually pleasing stuff to tickle the senses.

This is a farily “new” route, so there’s no real trail to speak of. For now anyway. But it’s well flagged, so getting lost is a non-issue.

Park at the Cox Hill/Jumpingpound Mountain/Lusk Pass trailhead on Powderface Trail, a winding gravel road, at a point about ten kilometres south of Highway #68. Don you packr, hiking poles at the ready, prepare for one fun and interesting outing.

Hunchback Hill: getting high in Kananaskis. A Chris & Connie Adventure!

Back track on the road a hundred metres or so and turn west on to the Lusk Pass Trail. It plunges into the forest, parallels a steam, the going nice and easy. In a short time, not much after crossing a bridge, come to a cairn, where you go off-trail. Turn right (north).

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The way steepens, flagging every few trees or so marking the way. Soon on, maybe in a year or two, a trail will form and these can be removed. Until then, they’re a God-send. It’s be so easy to loose one’s way in the dense forest here. For the next while, trees is all you’ll see and only near the top will there be any views to speak of. Still, it’s pleasant, the angle rarely too steep. Who ever flagged it picked a pretty good line.

Heading up without break come to the first opening in the trees. Finally, things to look at. One can see passing cars on dusty Powderface Trail down there by where you parked. There’s Cox Hill and Jumpingpound Mountain to the east. Both are well worth a visit. There’s a sea of forest below.

As height is gained the terrain gets a bit rockier. In places cairns replace flagging. The way is always marked though. At times the trail follows the tops of small cliff bands.

Coming to a grassy meadow, the summit soon comes into view, a bit to the north, what looks to be an impenetrable wall of forest between you and it. Surprisingly, it’s no so bad, the flaggers not just following the best route angle wise, but also avoiding stands with dead fall. Good on them.

A short push and it’s out of the trees. Rocks and grass underfoot, the summit a short way off.

The top is broad and open…and quite windy the day of our visit. Views are three-sixty all around. Standing at the huge cairn one can take in Midnight Peak and Mount Baldy to the southwest (ugly logging cut blocks below them). To their left, and stretching off in the distance, many, many more peaks. Some we’re eyeing up to climb – heck the same can be said of most bumps we view. So much to do, so little time.

A gap between mountains allows a view of Nakiska Ski Hill. Below is the light blue of (man made) Barrier Lake. In behind is Yates Mountain/McConnell Ridge (Tokyapebi Ipa in Stoney Nakoda), home to the Barrier Lake Lookout, a fire spotting station.

There’s more Hunchback Hills to the north bending back in a shallow U-shape. They’re all a bit lower and look to be more heavily treed. Getting to each would require loosing and gaining elevation – a real roller coaster profile. If you do it, you’ll need two cars and top notch navigation skills. There’s nothing to guide you – no trail, no flagging, nada (so we’re told).

Calgary can be seen off to the east. If you look carefully that is. In behind Cox Hill and Jumpingpound Mountain, Moose Mountain comes into view. It’s a stand-out peak of limestone, off by itself, amidst rolling green hills. It also has a fire lookout on top.

To the south, it’s ridge after ridge and hill after hill extending as far as can be seen.

You might have to take refuge in the trees to escape the wind if you’re having lunch at the top. We did. Up until this point we had the place to ourselves. Soon on others joined us up here – including some who donned Halloween Costumes for a group photo. A few other folks were passed on the way down. At this rate a trail should form soon.

Joining us this hike was our son’s pooch, Drea. Still a pup, she’s friendly too all, obedient, and loves the woods, so she’s likely to accompany us on more adventures.

Retrace steps back to your car. A rally race was planned for Powderface Trail the following day (and it would be off limits then), so for a time had to follow cars that would be participating in the event, as they familiarized themselves with the route. Cough, cough, it was dusty! And damn can those guys drive – had to pull over to let a couple pass.

What’s in a name? We looked and came up empty. Perhaps from certain angles the Hunchback Hills have a silhouette of Quasimodo bent over or something? Anyone?

More from the area…
Cox Hill.
Return to Eagle Hill.
Jumpingpound Mountain north trail.

If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!

Date of adventure: October, 2017.
Location: Kananaskis AB, Sibbald area
Distance: 7km out and back.
Height gain maximum: 560m.
Height gain cumulative: 580m-ish.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Technical bits, warnings and notes: No trail, only flagging.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.

Wood Culvert Pipe

An old wood culvert.

Lusk Pass Trail

On the Lusk Pass Trail at the start.

Hunchback Hills Kananaskis

At the cairn (left) head into the trees following flagging.

Hunchback Hills Hike

There no trail up Hunchback Hills (yet), but the way is obvious.

Wolf Lichen

Wolf Lichen – used by railway modelers to make trees.

Hunchback Hills Trail

Finally, breaking out of the trees…for a time.

Hunchback Hills Hiking Trail

It gets rockier as height is gained – that’s Drea.

Hiking Hunchback Hills

Still climbing.

Chris from BIGDoer

Drea belongs to our son – and takes to the woods like a natural.

Hunchback Hills Cairn

Cairns replace flagging in places.

Kananaskis Hunchback Hills

Views, glorious views – looking west-ish.

Summit Hunchback Hills

The summit ahead – looks forested but is open.

Hiking the Hunchback Hills

Nice blue skies this day.

Calgary Hunchback Hills

Calgary waaay off in the distance.

Hunchback Hills Summit

Not far from the summit now.

Hunchback Hills Hike Kananaskis

A final push.

Barrier Lake

In back, Barrier Lake.

Hunchback Hills Views

The huge summit cairn.

Hunchback Hills Loop

More Hunchback Hills to the north – they’re lower and more challenging to visit.

Drea BIGDoer Mascot

A face only a…never mind…BIGDoer’s new mascot!

Wine on a hike

As always, a toast to the fine playground we live in.

Cox Hill Kananaskis

Cox Hill in back.

Nakiska Ski Hill

Nakiska Ski Hill on Mount Allan.

Hunchback Hills Top

We have company.

Summit Hunchback Hills

Halloween on the Hunchback Hills – Drea greets new friends.

Moose Mountain Kananaskis

The peak way back there is Moose Mountain.

Wind Gnarled Trees

A tree growing flat due to challenging conditions.

Midnight Peak

Barren ones in back including Midnight Peak.

Powderface Trail

Looking south-ish, wave after wave of green.

Hiking down Hunchback Hills

One last looks before it’s back into the trees.

Hiking the Hunchback Hills Trail

Drea keeps close.

Dead Trees Hunchback Hills

Dead trees speak of the harsh conditions here.

Cliff Band Hunchback Hills

Atop a cliff band.

Gnarly Tree

More twisted.


A pleasant descent.

Flagging Hunchback Hills

A typical view, lower trail, with always present flagging.

Bent Tree

A bent tree, and the adventure near an end.

Hunchback Hills Route

The route up Hunchback Hills.


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6 Comments on "Hunchback Hills"

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Bernard Nemeth
Bernard Nemeth

Love to walk in these places.

Connie Biggart
Connie Biggart

A great time with a my best friend! Drea is such a nice dog.

Connie Biggart
Connie Biggart

Love those costumes!