Sandy McNabb Trail Hike

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Sandy McNabb Hike

Popular Equestrian Trekked Paths

Distance
10.6km

Trail type
Loop

Elevation
315m

Level
Moderate

 

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A Peaceful Stroll Through Wooded Meadows and Rolling Hills

The Sandy McNabb trail loop provides hikers with a gradual stroll over elevated hills hedged by grand mountain ranges. Positioned near an equestrian campground, share a trail revered by horseback riders for its hilly woodland and spacious meadows. Blanketed by white powder in the winter, this trail requires strong navigation skills as the trail supports few guiding markers. Surrounded by extensive growth of aspen and pine forests, hike 3.5 hours through the secluded quiet of nature.

Where Is It?

Drive to Turner Valley, continue west on Highway 546 (a.k.a Sheep River Road) for 19 km to reach the Sandy McNabb Recreational Area. On the left-hand side of the road, the parking lot lies at the entrance of the winter gate to the Sandy McNabb Recreational Area. The trailhead can be located by crossing the highway towards a clear path leading to the southeast. Consider purchasing a day or season parking pass from Nordiq Alberta. The $10 day pass and $50 season pass fund the trail’s grooming and upkeep.

 

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Trail Highlights

Trekking southeast along the Meadows Loop section of the hike, continue past an enclosure of trees as the richly green land leads you to High Noon Hills. In the winter, patches of white will silently cover the dry meadow as you climb High Noon Hills. Turn at a left junction, where the path turns right and into uncut land. As you climb gently towards two Sandy McNabb hills, there are no path markers, so make sure to stay on the worn trail. Your hike will take you through lean aspens as they meet undulating hills and reveal prominent alpine giants in the foreground. Such a sight focuses on beauty that may be overlooked in hikes of greater elevation. The open patchwork of Sandy McNabb’s grass, trees, bush, water and mountains provides a freeing escape within the heart of the Rockies.

Wander down from the hillside to greet a teeming forest bordering Long Prairie Creek, while you keep to the meadow. Opt to stop in the meadow to shape snow angels in the winter or play frisbee under the sun in warmer weather. As you reenter the treeline, the trail ascends to provide views of Mt. Dyson and Green Mountain. Crest Sandy McNabb Hill East, looking left to spot Okotoks Mountain. The ridge guides you to the second hilltop – Sandy McNabb Hill West– which is considered the summit. The open landscape of Sandy McNabb Hill West tapers down towards towering pine trees and prairies molded around hills. Sandy McNabb Hill West is situated excellently for you to enjoy a meal with your family.

 

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Return Trip

Retrace your steps back to Sandy McNabb Hill East. Locate the trail at the bottom of Sandy McNabb Trail East that flows into the recently familiar meadow. To your left, the dense thicket of pine trees guards the lively forest as you follow the trail along its side. In the winter, pull your microspikes on to cross the crystalline surface of Long Prairie Creek. As the meadow tapers out, retrace your steps back to the trailhead. The quiet and serene walk through the woods of Sandy McNabb trail highlights grassy meadows cut through by the Sheep River, providing a more subdued variant of traditional hikes.

Tips

  • To more easily navigate the Sandy McNabb trail, a GPS will be appreciated
  • Plan for your winter hike on Sandy McNabb trail with winter safety tips found here.
  • Check the weather pattern, avalanche warnings, and trail reports for the Sandy McNabb Area before you leave. 
  • Bears have been spotted in the area. In the warmer months hike in larger groups and bring bear spray.
  • Elevated trails acquire deeper snow, hiking poles are rec
  • Depending on the season, BigHorn Sheep can be spotted during this hike.