Alberta Hiking Association Newsletter
· AHA’s Bighorn Project
· Ridge Hikes Near Calgary to Try This Summer
· Prairie Mountain Trail Closure
· Adventures for Wilderness
· AHA Membership
AHA’s Bighorn Project
The Alberta Hiking Association is very excited to be in the final stages of an agreement with Alberta Forestry, Parks and Tourism to complete the Bighorn Project. This hiking trail initiative is aimed at encouraging and building capacity in the Bighorn area around Nordegg, Alberta.
As the plan unfolds, the AHA will hire a Project Coordinator local to the area who will recruit and train volunteers to assist Parks staff to install and monitor a series of trail counters and cameras. Volunteers will also receive training and carry out physical trail assessments on a number of identified hiking trails in the Bighorn using a standardized and approved process.
The AHA expects this initiative will also increase trail volunteerism in other area of the province resulting in an increase of good hiking opportunities.
Note: If you would like to check out hiking trails in the Bighorn you may want to access a copy of The David Thompson Highway: A Hiking Guide by Jane Ross and Daniel Kyba. Jane Ross was a former chair of the AHA. The book also contains a lot of local history.
Ridge Hikes Near Calgary to Try This Summer
This is a post from Go Outside, a free Substack newsletter written by Annalise and Cailynn Klingbeil – writers, outdoor enthusiasts and sisters who’ve been hiking, biking and skiing near Calgary since childhood and continue to be happiest outside.
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Hiking is great and ridge hikes are extra great. They’re a favourite of ours because of the incredible views they offer. There’s nothing quite like standing on a ridge and being able to see mountains for miles in all directions. It’s such a wonderful sight to see.
These views don’t typically come easy, though! Ridge hikes often require steep and challenging climbs, and the trails on the ridge may be narrow and feature considerable drops off the sides.
Going down can also be challenging. (If you’ve new to hiking, don’t start with ridge hikes. They’re best suited for more intermediate to advanced hikers.)
Read on for more details about a few of our favourite ridge hikes located a close drive from Calgary. The internet is full of detailed trip reports for each of these routes, which we highly recommend you put on your To Hike List for this summer!
King Creek Ridge
Views from King Creek Ridge Trail in Kananaskis in August 2020
King Creek Ridge is a challenging and steep hike with stunning 360 views of Kananaskis. Be prepared for a steep incline and views that make it all worth it. There’s a false summit at the end of the ascent, with the actual summit about 10 minutes further along the ridge.
Distance: 7 kilometres round trip
Elevation Gain: 750 metres
Parking: Park at the King Creek Day Use Trailhead, located down Highway 40. Once parked, walk back to Highway 40 and turn right. The trail follows the road for a brief distance before veering uphill. Stay left at the first junction to go to the ridge.
Hiking Opal Ridge in Kananaskis in June 2020
Opal Ridge is another Kananaskis hike featuring a steep climb and expansive views. While the very start of the hike involves some route finding and is rather bland, you’ll quickly be surrounded by scree. Keep on climbing and you’ll eventually hike up between two big rock pillars or gates that lead to stunning views.
Distance: 8 kilometres round trip
Elevation Gain: 1,000 metres
Parking: Park at the Fortress Gas Station and start at the north end of the lot. You’ll hike up a small creek that gets you to a road with a powerline overhead. After about 10 minutes start looking for a steep unmarked trail on your right. The trail goes through a forest for about 20 minutes before opening onto a slope.
Wasootch Ridge trail in May 2020
Also located in Kananaskis, Wasootch Ridge is a favourite of ours. It’s a straightforward and steep trail that quickly leads to stunning views (as in within 25 minutes of hiking, you’ll be treated to views). There are also options once you’re on the ridge meaning you can choose your own adventure…you can get good views without going all the way to the true summit, or you can do the difficult scramble to the true summit and go back down the same way you came, or make it into a loop and descend the backside of the peak (though prepare for loose scree, bushwacking and a long walk out along a creek bed.) Options abound!
Distance: About 13 kilometres roundtrip (if you go to the true summit and come back the same way. Note few people go to the tricky true summit, most turn back 1 kilometre before.)
Elevation Gain: Up to 1,00 metres
Parking: Park at the Wasootch Day Use Area. The trailhead is behind the picnic tables (which are in the trees, across from the toilets.) There are three different trails to choose from and we recommend the trail leading from the picnic table on the right.
Ridge Hike Reminders
- Pack lots of water! Ridge hikes are unlike other hikes where there are plenty of opportunities to refill from streams and rivers. In addition, the steepness is taxing. Make sure you pack plenty of water as you’ll need it.
- Don’t forget your bear spray and we’re entering that time of year where it’s important you check yourself for ticks after your hike.
- While you should always pack for variable weather conditions, this is particularly important on ridge hikes when you’re very exposed to the elements. Ridges can be extra windy so layers are important.
- Be prepared for lots of snow, especially in early season including May and June. Microspikes and poles are a must.
- You don’t have to go to the true summit! A lot of ridge hikes offer stunning views very quickly.
Prairie Mountain Trail Project: Kananaskis Public Land Use Zone
Alberta Forestry, Parks and Tourism will be upgrading Prairie Mountain, a popular trail in the Elbow Valley. All access, trails, routes and climbs in the area will be closed between May 23 and October 1, 2023.
The project includes redevelopment of the main trail from base to summit, including formalizing east and west access routes. All other routes will be decommissioned. Amenities will be developed including trailhead kiosks, wayfinding signage, information and safety signage, and viewpoint boulder benches for respite. Parking is not included in the current project. For project information call 310-LAND (5263) or visit Alberta.ca/PublicLandClosures.
To support efficient trail construction activities and ensure the safety of the staff and contractors, FPT is closing all access to a portion of the mountain.
- The closure area includes areas north of Highway 66 and Prairie Creek Trail, sections of Elbow Valley Trail, areas East of Pistolero Trail, and otherwise 400m on each side of the existing trail tread including the summit.
- Note the closure area excludes Prairie Creek Trail, Pistolero Trail, and Highway 66. These trails are open.
To continue to represent the interests of hikers, walkers and snowshoers in Alberta, we need your help! We need you to work with us to help protect our parks and wildlands.
To become an AHA member, or renew your membership, fill in our online form and mail a cheque to the Alberta Hiking Association. Alternatively, you can pay online via PayPal. Please find the form and more information here: Become a Member Now.
We are also looking for board members and committee members. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to Contact Us.
We look forward to meeting you along the trail!