Summit Elevation (m): 1723
Trip Date: Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Elevation Gain (m): 350
Round Trip Time (hrs): 2.5
Total Trip Distance (km): 11
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain something
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking on good trails. Bring micro-spikes in the winter. The many trails in the area probably provides the crux – which ones to follow?
Technical Rating: TL2; YDS (Hiking)
Map: Google Maps
I could feel myself losing motivation to ascend Prairie Mountain in 80 kph winds after work on Tuesday, March 10 2020. Even the day before I was really forcing myself to leave the city and drive west yet again after work. I’m trying to lose stubborn winter weight before the spring ski season and summer “everything” season starts. Now that I live in SW Calgary I am only about 45-50 km from the front ranges of the Rockies and am determined to get out there more often for some fresh air.
I made a list of all the front range hills and bumps I could target and set about hiking the first few on Tuesday. It felt great to be on something a bit different and I chose the Fullerton area simply because I’ve seen many cars parked there over the winter on my way driving to Prairie Mountain. I figured the trails must be well packed and easy to hike. I was right.
There are a myriad of trail options and directions to do this loop. I chose to start on Fullerton, go up Sugar Momma, do a short off-trail towards Sugar Daddy and then summit Taipiti Ridge. Views were limited but the forest was nice and being all alone was too. Prairie Mountain is very busy, even on a week night. I didn’t see anyone on this trip.
After the lookout on Taipiti I followed the Sugar Daddy trail towards Baruch’s Corner and Ranger Hill. The trail is made for mountain bikes and was quite switchbacked in spots. This would be a prime running circuit. The views from Baruch’s Corner were nicer than on Taipiti.
Soon I was headed down Sugar Daddy, Sugar Momma and Bobcat South towards the western arm of the Fullerton Loop. This was the best views of the circuit and also the driest terrain. It was even muddy in places.
As the sun set in the west I descended the last bit of ridge to the highway trail leading back to the parking lot. As I walked in silence I pondered how lucky I was to be out hiking after work, all alone on a good trail with such sublime atmosphere and so close to a city of over 1 million people. It’s not a thrilling hike by any means, but it certainly provided exactly what I needed from a Tuesday evening in March.
I highly recommend this (or any other variation) loop for a quick after work hike, bike or run in pretty much any season.