Fly Hill
Inspired by Bob Spirko’s trip report, Ali Shariat, Marta Wojnarowska, Zosia Zgolak and I traversed Fly Hill in the Livingstone River area of southwest Alberta on 21 October 2018.

From Highway 22, turn onto Highway 517 (Maycroft Road) and drive west for 22 kilometres to the junction with Forestry Trunk Road 940.  Turn right (north) and cross the bridge over Racehorse Creek.  Just beyond the bridge, there are a couple of access points to gain the rough road that runs west along the north bank of Racehorse Creek.  Park wherever feasible without blocking the rough road and start hiking westward along a barbed wire fence.

I managed to drive about a kilometre west of the Forestry Trunk Road before parking my car along a parallel spur road.  We started our hike here and followed the barbed wire fence to an opening at the end of the rough road.  A trail rises immediately beyond the opening but soon drops down alongside Racehorse Creek to cross a side creek.  We left the trail shortly past the side creek and began bushwhacking up the forested slope to our right.  After an initial steep grunt, we found ourselves on an open bench leading to a forested high point where we caught our first glimpse of Fly Hill to the north.
How annoying. After a brief climb, Zosia descends the trail which runs along the north bank of Racehorse Creek.
Good way to warm up! Zosia, Ali and Marta climb in earnest up a steep grassy slope.
Very pleasant bushwhacking...if there is such a thing! Bushwhacking through the forest in this area is generally light.
The first high point is in trees but is not hard to tag. Zosia and Marta hike up an open bench to the first high point along the route.

The two unnamed peaks at far right are begging to be climbed!

From near the top of the first high point, the array of peaks visible to the southwest include Window Mountain, Allison Peak, Mount Ward, Mount Racehorse and Racehorse Peak.


There are some cliffs up there, but they won't pose any problems.

Here is the first glimpse of Fly Hill from near the top of the first high point.


From the first high point, Ali, Marta, Zosia and I dropped down the west end and skirted along the edge of a clearcut before climbing up to a second high point.  We then descended the northwest side of the second high point into a thick patch of forest and eventually gravitated to a steep open slope which leads to the top of a third high point.

After taking a quick break on the third high point, we dropped down a short cut-line to the north and climbed up to the base of some cliffs guarding the summit ridge of Fly Hill.  As mentioned in Spirko’s report, we found a hidden weakness in the cliffs and had no difficulties gaining the summit ridge.  We subsequently traversed over the actual high point of Fly Hill and then took another break at a cairn near the north end of the summit ridge.

We could hear logging activity coming from across the valley. Zosia, Ali and Marta drop down the west end of the first high point.
Stay left of the clearcut at the bottom of this drop. The second high point along the route is straight ahead with Fly Hill visible at right.
Maybe we should start counting all these high points as separate summits... After dropping down from the first high point, the group begins to climb up the second high point ahead.
Guess who is the slowpoke of the group... Zosia and Marta follow Ali up to the top of the second high point.
I saw a white weasel somewhere in the trees below the open slope! From the top of the second high point, the group aims for the open slope at left leading to a third high point.
Good place for a break before the final push! Marta and Zosia take a break near the top of the third high point.  Fly Hill is visible through the trees at right.
Hmmm...those cliffs are starting to look a little daunting... The group crosses a saddle between the third high point and Fly Hill.
That's enough up-and-down for today! After descending from the third high point along the cut-line at far right, Sonny climbs up the last section before the summit ridge of Fly Hill.  The second high point can be seen behind Sonny.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Even without the weakness, you could probably circumvent the cliffs to the left. The group approaches the base of the cliffs guarding the south end of Fly Hill's summit ridge.  A weakness in the cliffs can be found behind the big tree.
Marta still wants to take the hard way up! The weakness in the cliffs is revealed.
My GPS map is a bit off here and shows the summit somewhere off to the left past the trees! The high point of Fly Hill (2001 metres) is somewhere along this stretch of the summit ridge.  The bump at the far end has a cairn but is slightly lower than the actual high point.
En garde! Zosia, Ali, Marta and Sonny have a Pocky stick fight at the Fly Hill cairn (1999 metres).
I might try this one next summer... The Gould Dome massif can be seen to the west through a break in the trees.
Should be on every peak-bagger's to-do list! To the northwest, Tornado Mountain is the highest in the High Rock Range.
I wonder if the Dutch guy is still manning the lookout in the summer... To the northeast, Livingstone Lookout sits atop what is now generally known as Thrift Peak.
I'm still choked about *@#$% Lightning Peak!!! Lightning Peak (centre) and Centre Peak (right) round out the views to the southeast.
Going back this way was worth a shot! Fly Creek valley runs east of Fly Hill.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

For our return trip, Ali, Marta, Zosia and I decided to make a loop by dropping down into the big bowl east of Fly Hill and following Fly Creek out to the Forestry Trunk Road.  The initial plunge from the summit ridge was very steep but manageable in the dry conditions we had.  Upon entering the Fly Creek drainage, we endured a little bushwhacking here and there, but for the most part, we were able to follow smatterings of trail and an old exploration road out the valley.  When we finally reached the Forestry Trunk Road, we turned right and easily hiked back to the rough road and my car to complete the loop.
No problems in dry conditions. Sonny, Ali and Marta carefully descend the cliffs below the cairn.

Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak

Toe-jamming and knee-jarring time! Zosia, Marta and Ali drop down the steep slopes east of Fly Hill.

If there was enough snow, wouldn't it be great to ski down this bowl?

This is looking back up at the east cliffs of Fly Hill.


This is where the real adventure begins! The group enters Fly Creek valley.  Thunder Mountain is visible in the distance.
It's better than bushwhacking, but the clearcuts are not easy to walk through either! The group crosses one of many clearcuts in Fly Creek valley.
Trickier than it looks! Marta squeezes past a locked gate with a cattle guard just before the Forestry Trunk Road.
This gem of a hike deserves more attention! Total Distance:  13.2 kilometres
Round-Trip Time:  6 hours 42 minutes
Net Elevation Gain:  644 metres

GPX Data