Four Recommended Kananaskis Hikes for the Summer
It’s always very good to go to K-country in the summertime: Kananaskis Country, whose river was named in 1858 by John Palliser citing an Indigenous person, named Kananaskis, who had survived a blow of an axe, or so as legend goes, has many wondrous mountains and views that it is a crying shame it was not included alongside the great national parks of Banff, Jasper and many others as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
For the summer, a hike in K-country is an absolute must. There will be instructions in how to get to the hike, there will be a reason as to why I believe the hike is recommended.
Warning: Highway 40, the main artery route in the Kananaskis has it’s entire southern section closed between December and June 15th. Some routes to certain hikes, like Raspberry Ridge have inflated time estimations because of this fact, and I highly recommend not following the instructions I have given there until June 15th.
Canyon Creek Peaks Route Loop (1hr. 30min from university)
Firstly, I must warn you before you go on the car to this hike. This hike is not recommended under any circumstances for first-time beginners. The first issue is that there is barely, at all any sort of definable trail, and the second issue is that the way up requires one to literally climb a mountain. The third issue is that the way down is covered in literal dense forest, with a few plains that indicate former truck areas where forest managers manage to cut down trees.
So why is this trail so recommended? Primarily because of it’s views and sense of general accomplishment if you somehow manage to conquer the whole mountain.
To get to this tough trail (if you dare), there are two routes you can take from the University to there: the first route involves you taking the Trans-Canada Highway west until you reach Highway 68. Take the highway until you reach the gravel road entrance to Powderface Trail. Then, take Powderface Trail until you reach the Canyon Creek area, which is in the middle of the area between Mount Bryant and Moose Mountain.
Alternatively, you can go to Highway 22X, which becomes Highway 22 past Priddis and Highway 66 past Bragg Creek, until you reach the intersection of Little Elbow Camp Access and Powderface Trail. Take Powderface Trail north until you reach the aforementioned Canyon Creek area.
Raspberry Ridge (1hr. 40min from university)
Beautiful wild flowers is the name of this hike in Raspberry Ridge which is home to a fire lookout. The fire lookout, side note is usually used to spot incoming forest fires, but there is likely another reason why they put a fire lookout outside: the views from Raspberry Ridge are very beautiful that you cannot really get from traveling the southern gravel road section of Highway 40, such as views of Mount Burke to the east and the Great Divide between British Columbia and Alberta to the West (yes, it’s pretty close to the BC border.)
If you want to get to Raspberry Ridge, head to Highway 22X, then take the exit onto Highway 22 south to Turner Valley. In Turner Valley, turn east to Highway 22 connecting the town with Black Diamond. At Black Diamond, continue on Highway 22, as in head south until you get to Longview. At Longview, turn right onto Highway 541 until you reach Highway 40’s southern gravel road section, which connects Kananaskis Country with Coleman.
Moose Mountain (55 min away from University)
For film buffs, this was where Brokeback Mountain was filmed. No, I have not watched it. I have climbed this mountain, however, named after a literal moose that can be seen on top of the mountain. There are several stops on the summit, given the moose-shaped peak. There is also a fire lookout much like Raspberry Ridge, and once again the authorities have identified a good lookout to spot fires - there are good views of Jumpingpound Mountain and the rest of the Moose Mountain base. Much like the next hike, this one is a popular hike, so make sure you wear your mask. And make sure it’s breathable.
If you want to get to Moose Mountain, you head east on Highway 8 (also known as Glenmore Trail) until you reach Highway 22. Take the roundabout exit for Highway 22 south for Bragg Creek. After you pass Bragg Creek and come to the intersection of Highway 22 and Highway 66, take the right exit. Drive Highway 66 until you reach Powderface Trail. Take Powderface Trail to the north until you reach a parking area close to Buggeraton Hill.
Pocaterra Ridge (1hr 30min from University)
Last time I was in Pocaterra Ridge, I found a lot of people were hiking it with their kids and for good reason - it’s very beautiful. Located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, named after late Premier Peter Lougheed, there is an impressive view to be had of the Kananaskis area, particularly close to Mount Lippsett. Make sure you wear your mask however, this is a very heavily trafficked route. (Fun fact: the trailhead for Pocaterra Ridge also has hikes to Highwood Ridge and Mount Tyrwhitt.)
If you want to get to Pocaterra Ridge, you have to take the Trans-Canada Highway west until you reach Highway 40. Then, take Highway 40 south until you reach the parking lot for Pocaterra Ridge. Disclaimer: it’s located in the area where Highway 40 is closed for the winter, so leave after June 15th.
So, there you have it - four highly recommended yet challenging hikes for the summer.