Mt. Sparrowhawk
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Mt. Sparrowhawk - Spray Lakes Road

RS - Big Rock Spur or Reads Tower

Start of trail across from Sparrowhawk day use area

Looking back at the Sparrowhawk day use parking - has a pit toilet

After approx 10-15 minutes you come to the first intersection.

This trail leads to the left hand turn for Reads Tower / Mt Sparrowhawk

About 15-20 minutes after the first intersection you come to the left hand turn for Reads Tower / Mt Sparrowhawk. Lots of blue ribbons here.

Looking back after you have made the left hand turn


Mt. Sparrowhawk

Scramble: Class 1 – Steep Hiking

Altitude: 3,121m (10,237 ft)

Elevation Gain: 1,350m (4,428 ft)

Ascent Time: 3 1/2 – 5 Hours

Best Season to Scramble: Mid-June to September


This scramble offers a sense of remoteness and impressive summit views, which make the first hour + of bushwhacking worth while. It should be attempted when the front part of the summit block is relatively free of snow. If there is a patch of snow in front of the summit block but only extends a quarter of the way down the big slope to the rock spur you should be okay. This ensures that the final meters around the back of the summit block are clear. You can actually check the last few meters of the summit block from Ribbon Creek on Highway 40. Stop on the side of the road just past the turnoff into the Ribbon Creek/ Nakiska ski area. The summit block is up the North Fork of Ribbon Creek on the right hand side. Binoculars would help.

Getting There

If you are scrambling from mid July to August you probably will not need to check the summit block and can go through Canmore, which is shorter. From either Banff 26km (16.2miles) or Calgary 106 km (66.2 miles) drive to Canmore and from the Bow River bridge in Canmore to the Mt Sparrowhawk parking lot drive 26.3 km (16.4 miles). The road from the Bow River bridge takes you past the Canmore Nordic Centre and onto the Spray Lakes road (packed gravel). Distances only approximate. There is a sign for the Sparrowhawk day use area.

If you want to check the summit block, head west out of Calgary on the TransCanada highway # 1 for 79km (49.4 miles) and take the Kananaskis Country highway # 40 turnoff and head south. The Ribbon Creek turnoff to check the summit block is 23.4 km (14.6 miles) south. Continue south and turn right into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park which is 49km (30.6 miles) south of the TransCanada. From this turnoff drive 2 km (1.25 miles) and turn right on Spray Lakes road driving a further 37.7km (23.6 miles) north until you reach the Mt Sparrowhawk day use parking lot on your left.

If your base is Banff head east on the TransCanada for 52km (32.5 miles) to highway 40 and follow as above.

Route Description

The trail starts right across from the Sparrowhawk day use area. Head up the obvious trail, don't go left at the first junction (mtn bike trail) but head left at the second junction (approx 1km) just past the two benches. Going straight will take you up to Sparrowhawk Tarns. Once you head left it will be steep hike up to the top of Reads Ridge.

Once you attain the open ridge hike up until you reach Reads Tower, drop down left into the basin and traverse along the left side of Reads Tower until you are at its front. This will leave the final big slope, a traverse around the right side of the summit block, then a short climb up the back. Return the way you came.