King’s Creek Ridge Hike
Conquering King’s Creek Ridge
7.6km round trip
Out and back
A Climb Worth the View
Hiking enthusiasts will love the extra challenge promised by the steeper climb with King’s Creek Ridge. The initial trek up to the summit is as much an outdoor escape as it is a fitness circuit! With the terrain shifting from paths hugged by teeming pines, an open meadow, a rocky canyon and three peaks offering vast views, the first snows of fall coat mountains in an iridescent shine. King’s Creek Ridge is best hiked from June to October when ice is at its minimum to keep the vertical climbs safe. If you have a furry friend with legs as strong as you, King’s Creek Ridge is dog friendly for those with a leash. As the path includes areas of open exposure, basic route-finding skills and a descent encouraging hiking poles, we recommend keeping the kids at home.
Where is King’s Creek Ridge?
After driving past the Kananaskis Village turnoff on Highway 40, King’s Creek Day Use Area is found on the left hand side. The parking lot is east of Highway 40, close to 100 metres north of Highwood Pass’ winter gate.
The trail begins behind the entry to the parking lot. Looking right, parallel to Highway 40, the trail starts in the grass close to the road. Continue following this trail towards an intersection. Take the left path to begin your climb.
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Reaching the Summit
Very soon into the hike you’ll encounter two kilometres of considerably steep hiking. As the saying goes – the most beautiful views come after a hard climb. As you gain vertical elevation, the forested path offers glimpses of the sweeping mountainous range. Two kilometres later, King’s Creek Ridge levels out and welcomes you to peaks such as Mount Brock, Mount Blane and Mount Wintour. The sights that unfold after the ridge proudly represent the magic of hiking. Numerous jagged snow-capped peaks slope down to dense greenery, sparkling grass and crystalline Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes – truly a king’s view.
The fresh, crisp air of fall invites serenity along the ridge line trail. King’s Creek Ridge includes three peaks navigated through parts of open exposure and a narrow path. The third peak marks the spot! Take a seat to enjoy lunch amidst the verdant views of the Opal Range.
The ridge line offers no signage for the turnoff to note your descent. Look for the return trail by seeking the well-trodden trail. Retrace your steps down from the third peak, the returning route is characterized by a descending, steep slope between the second and third summit. The hike towards the peak included paths coated with loose rocks and the downwards scramble is no different.
The return trip requires previous hiking experience to be comfortable descending a crumbly slope. Use caution throughout the descent, pulling out your hiking poles to maintain stability and anchor yourself. Slow and steady wins this return trip, where you’ll be greeted at the bottom by a frosty, dense meadow. The last stretch of the hike runs through a dry creek bed into a lustrous mountain creek (perfect for a break in the warmer months!). Follow the creek throughout boulder terrain of a narrow, towering canyon to reunite with the trailhead. When the weather permits, the walls of the canyon can offer unique climbing opportunities.
- Bear sightings are not common on this hike, but be mindful of bears and opt to hike in a group of 2-4 people while carrying bear spray.
- The elevation and loose rocks of this hike require hiking poles for the return trip. In the fall, snow can make the path slick.
- Experience with path finding is an asset. Gillean Daffern’s Kananaskis Trail Guide Volume 1, pg. 129-133 and the Copeand’s Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies, pg. 105-109 are guidebooks to make navigating King’s Creek ridge easier.
- Remember to pack layers as it can get windy at the summits.
- There are no washrooms throughout the trail.
- Spring, summer and fall offer a range of panoramic environments from lush spring greens to the chill quiet of fall. As the seasons progress, hiking experience becomes even more essential.