McLean Hill East
Looking for a simple hike not far from home
on 3 April 2022, Zosia Zgolak and I climbed up an unnamed bump just
northeast of McLean Hill in Alberta's McLean Creek Off-Highway Vehicle
Public Land Use Zone. Given the bump's low elevation and scrubby
nature, I am not surprised that I could find no references for it, and as
such, I have taken the liberty to name it McLean Hill East. I used
Google Maps to come up with a fairly straightforward approach using
logging roads, and my only concern was the possibility that the roads
might become unpleasantly muddy with the spring thaw.
Zosia and I started our hike from a campground dump station located on
the south side of Highway 66 (6.3 kilometres west of the junction with
Highway 22). At the southeast corner of the dump station, we picked
up a gravel road heading southward. Shortly after passing under a
telephone line, we veered left at a T-junction and briefly headed
eastward to cross Connop Creek before making a hard right turn at a
second T-junction (it is also possible to follow the telephone line
directly to this second T-junction). From the second T-junction, we
settled into a long but easy walk along a gravel road which gradually
climbs up the northeast side of McLean Hill. The dirt on the road
was still conveniently frozen in the morning, and any lingering snow
patches were shallow or already broken by ATV traffic. About 3.4
kilometres from the second T-junction, the road crosses an obvious cut
line before ending in a small cut block. Heading eastward, we
dropped down into a dip to cross Priddis Creek before bushwhacking up the
far slope. Partway up this slope, we stumbled onto a mountain
biking trail running parallel to the creek, but we ignored it to continue
uphill until we entered a much larger cut block. Turning north
here, we picked up a faint trail running along a reclaimed logging road
which soon bends to the northeast. Just after the bend, we
inadvertently climbed up a small forested knoll thinking it was our
objective of the day, but after consulting my GPS unit, we quickly
realized that we were still a bit short and returned to the reclaimed
road. Where the reclaimed road seemingly ends, we turned southward
and waded into moderate bush for a short distance to reach the rather
nebulous high point of McLean Hill East.
Zosia and I took an extended break on the high point of McLean Hill East
before making our way back to the reclaimed logging road. We walked
back along the reclaimed road for a short distance before turning north
into a corridor through the bush. This led us to the same cut line
we crossed earlier. Following this cut line westward entailed quite
a steep descent to Priddis Creek followed by an equally steep but shorter
climb up to the intersection with our original approach road. Once
we regained the road, we retraced our steps to the second T-junction
where we took a short cut along the aforementioned telephone line before
easily finishing off the remainder of the hike back to the dump station.
The warm afternoon temperatures had softened up the road considerably,
but for the most part, we were able to tiptoe around the muddy sections
without too much trouble.
The reclaimed logging road grants some distant views
including this one to the southwest of (L to R)
Moose Mountain stands out in the sunlight to the
||After leaving the reclaimed logging
road, Zosia thrashes through some moderate bush to find the nebulous
high point of McLean Hill East.
||Zosia and Sonny stand approximately on
the high point of Mclean Hill East (1615 metres).
From near the top of McLean Hill East, downtown Calgary is visible on the
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
Zosia appreciates the warmth of the sun as she returns to the reclaimed
logging road. In the background is a comprehensive view of McLean
Hill's eastern slopes.
Zosia takes an alternate return route along a steep cut line.
||This lone ruffed grouse blends in well
with its surroundings.
After re-crossing Priddis Creek, Zosia climbs up a steep ATV track which
parallels the cut line.
||Sonny is careful to avoid mud as he
hikes back along the thawing road.
Photo courtesy of Zosia Zgolak
||Along a telephone line, Zosia
comes across a partial skeleton of likely a deer.
Distance: 13.8 kilometres
Round-Trip Time: 5 hours 17 minutes
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 464 metres