Time (~10 hr.) and distance are approximate and for a return trip.< NOTE - this description is for information only and is recommended for experienced backcountry hikers only.
When we first started out on this trip, it was going to be a simple up and back scramble of Sofa Mt. in Waterton Lakes National Park.
However, during the ascent we joined up with Mike Potter, who is a guidebook author ('Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies' and 'Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies'). Mike was looking for the site of the original lookout on Sofa Mt. and was hiking solo.
We joined up with Mike and decided after summitting that we would join him on his search for the site of the old lookout. The lookout had been abandoned and removed in the 40's but we hoped we could find some evidence of its existence.
This lead us to the southeast end of Sofa Mt. We had come in from the north. Without too many calculations, we knew we would have a long walk out. So off we went. To see the rest of this mountain, just continue southeast from the summit, instead of returning the way you came up.
The 'new' part of the mountain is amazing. There is so much diversity of rocks and rock formations, new scenery and a unique view of the North Belly River drainage. None of this can be seen from the highway.
Along the way we ran into some interesting critters and a rare flowering plant that doesn't seem to be in any of the plant books. We descended from the last round knob (7th photo) to the southeast and bushwacked back to the trailhead (not recommended), through the burn area of 1998. I personally think it would be advisable to re-ascend to the summit and return the way you came. It's going to be a lot more work, but much more enjoyable walking.
There is a small gravel pullout on the Chief Mountain highway about a half mile east of the viewpoint at the top of the hill. There is a faint but obvious trail leading to the mountain. Follow this to the obvious drainage and ascend the ridge on your right. When you reach the rock band, angle left.
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