Breathtaking day hike in Alberta – Wasootch Ridge

If you’re looking for a breathtaking and challenging day hike not too far from Calgary then Wasootch Ridge is a great day hike option! From the outskirts of Calgary, you can get to the Wasootch Ridge parking lot in just under an hour if the highway isn’t too crowded. 

Wasootch Ridge is one of our favorite hikes in the Kananaskis area for multiple reasons. We love that you can get amazing views from the moderate hike but also continue along if you’re looking for something more challenging. And we love the fact that you have beautiful views throughout the entire hike. Enjoy your hike up Wasootch Ridge!

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Wasootch Ridge is your typical in and out hike and is a steep incline right from the beginning just like Vision Quest. But once you get past the first bit of incline you start to walk along the ridges for the rest of the hike. 

It does end up feeling like you’re on a rollercoaster by the end of it with all the ups and downs along the ridge. Luckily, even though you are in the trees, it is very open and you’ll have views for days. There are expansive views of Wasootch Creek and up and down the Kananaskis Valley.

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The initial climb and ridge walk isn’t that difficult and we would definitely rate it as a moderate hike and safe. It is a rewarding hike and very enjoyable since it is basically open for the majority of the hike.

Wasootch Ridge is a breathtaking day hike in Kananaskis, Alberta

Most people end up hiking the ridge until they get to the cairn which offers stunning views. It is a good turn back point because it offers almost the same views as it would if you scramble to the top but without having to do all the technical scrambling. 

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There are still a few tricky parts to get to the cairn but nothing extremely crazy. The majority of the ridge walk is not exposed at all and the ups and downs are relatively mellow so it can be a very relaxing and enjoyable hike if you have the time. 

The panoramic views definitely make it worthwhile so there’s no problem with taking breaks every so often along the ridge and admiring the views. The cairn is also very easy to spot and the trail is easy to follow so you shouldn’t have too many problems navigating your way up and down the mountain.

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Wasootch-ridge-red-white-adventures

Wasootch Ridge Summit Climb in Kananaskis, Alberta 

If you are an experienced hiker and enjoy hiking over scree and scrambling then make sure you get to the summit! Once you get past the cairn you will continue towards the last peak along the side of the mountain until your final push up. It is challenging and does take some time but it’s super rewarding!

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We would highly recommend only doing Wasootch Ridge during summer and make sure you are prepared and with a group of people who are also comfortable scrambling up through scree. This last part is not for everyone. 

We went to the summit but it was difficult with a few tricky spots. So be well prepared and add an extra hour and a half return from the cairn.

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If you want a more easy hike in the Kananaskis area, check out Chester Lake Trail! And if you’re looking for hikes in the Nordegg area you might want to try out Vision Quest!

Practical information about Wasootch Ridge

Distance: 15.4 km return / 9.56 miles return
Elevation: 1451 m / 4761 ft. elevation gain
Type: Out and back
Length: 4.5-6.5 hours return to the furthest peak.
Difficulty: Moderate up until the cairn, then the scramble to the summit is difficult.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Here’s a map of the beginning of the trail

How to get there

From Calgary

  1. Take Trans Canada Highway from Calgary towards Canmore.
  2. Take Exit 118 towards Kananaskis.
  3. Turn left and stay on Kananaskis Trail / AB 40 for roughly 18 km.
  4. Turn left into the parking lot for Wasootch Ridge (There is a path right next to the car park/with a little sign).
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From Edmonton

  1. Take Highway 2 south from Edmonton down towards Calgary.
  2. Then turn east onto Stoney Trail NW/ Highway 201.
  3. Then you will follow directions 3 and 4 from Calgary.

The turnoff for Wasootch Ridge is just passed Barrier Lake on the left-hand side. The map and directions are posted above with pictures of what to expect and the beautiful views.

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It is a fairly easy trailhead to find though so don’t worry about that. It’s located on the east side of the parking lot just passed a few picnic tables and hidden by a screen of Pine trees. It is far left from the Wasootch Creek sign so don’t be fooled. 

Before you go

The first thing you should do before you go is to check if the trail is open and if there are any warnings on it.

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We do recommend doing this hike in the later months of summer like July, August, and September as there is still snow sometimes upon the mountains if you go earlier in the season. Since it is a bit of a tricky hike it is nice to have the weather in your favor.

DO NOT GO during bad weather. You’re very exposed on this hike and if a thunderstorm starts this could be very dangerous if not life-threatening for you. Sorry to be a downer, but as we always say: “Safety first”!

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Wasootch-ridge-red-white-adventures

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We would also recommend you to tell someone about your plans, just in case something were to happen. Better safe than sorry! Especially since there may be limited to no reception while you’re out on the hike. We had reception at the summit but you may not be as lucky.

You can check the recent comments about the trail out here. If people see wildlife on the path they will likely put an update here (Wasootch Creek). In case the trail is closed, you can try out an easy day hike such as Chester Lake Trail or find other hikes nearby right here.

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What to bring

This is a fairly long hike and can take up to 6.5 hours to do (if not more) so bring enough of what you need and limit what you don’t need. The weather changes quickly up there so maybe it’s safe to bring a light jacket and extra socks even on a warm day. You just never know in the Rockies.

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So bring:

  • Lots of water! 
  • Food.
  • Sunscreen if it’s sunny out! 
  • Bear spray – and know how to use it!
  • Extra clothes (even if it isn’t cold).
  • Some sort of speaker (to keep bears and other wildlife away).
  • Walking sticks might also be a good idea (they could save your knees).
  • Compeed for blisters!

Other useful info

  • This hike is very close to Barrier Lake, so stop and enjoy the views after the hike. You might also want to dip your feet and calves in the ice-cold water. It’s great for recovering!
  • Wasootch Ridge is dog-friendly up to the cairn.
  • It is an unofficial hike so it is harder to find markings.
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We hope you enjoy Wasootch Ridge and its beautiful views as much as we did! Enjoy and stay safe out there!

Once you’ve done the hike, please let us know in the comments below what you think of it!

Have fun!

Dom & Jo

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49 thoughts on “Breathtaking day hike in Alberta – Wasootch Ridge

  1. Wow! Your photos are incredible! I also love how you’re very descriptive and honest about these hikes. I think that helps so many. Also did you feel that your knees were bothering you after the hike?

    1. Thank you! Honestly, we had to pick between 200 images for this post – the hike was just so incredible (and long, haha). Yes, both Dom’s knees and my knees were pretty sore after the hike, especially the last little part is very steep. But our knees are always sore so I’m not sure how much it helps. It lasted for a day or two and they were back to normal 🙂
      – Jo

    1. Yes Wasootch Ridge is one of our favourites! Especially since it’s so close to Calgary, and the views in the Rocky’s are something else.
      – Jo

    1. It is quite intense – especially if you go to the summit! Chester Lake is a great alternative! It has a bit of an incline but it’s not too step and not dangerous at any point. It’s a perfect hike for a relaxed afternoon 🙂
      – Jo

  2. You’re definitely right, this is breathtaking!! Thank you so much for sharing this with us! I can’t stop taking a look at all these pictures! The views are just incredible!
    Happy Thursday Cutie!

    1. Thanks so much, Anna! You’re the sweetest 🙂 I’m glad you like it! Come visit one day soon!
      – Jo xx

  3. I have not had many opportunities for hiking over the past decade but this is one I’d have to add to my Canada bucket list. The views look spectacular from every single place you stopped.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that! I hope you get back out on the path soon 🙂 And that one day you get to experience this incredible hike. It’s definitely one of the best ones I’ve ever done! Have a great day!
      – Jo

    1. It’s so rewarding once you get to the top! 🙂 luckily there are many other ways to enjoy pretty views than just by hiking!
      – Jo

  4. Oooh this hike looks fantastic!! We have not explored the Kananaskis area yet, I really need to get out there. Those views look totally worth the effort!

    p.s. You commented that your knees feel sore after hikes. Have you tried using hiking poles. I have found they make a massive difference on steep hikes like this. I can hike for longer before getting jelly legs.

    1. Hi Josy, thanks for stopping by! Yes, you should totally explore the Kananaskis area 🙂 It’s so beautiful and way less touristy than Banff and Canmore.
      No, actually none of us have been using poles before. Maybe it’s time to try it out! Thanks for the tip!
      – Jo

  5. Wow, that scenery is really breathtaking. We don’t spend nearly enough time in Canada, but on our next trek up, we will have to go check out Wasooch Ridge with our camera equipment. I especially love your photo with the rainbow in the background, it’s a beautiful shot.

    1. Hey Sparky,

      Oh yeah it’s a great place for videography and taking stunning pictures for sunrise and sunset. Thanks Sparky! The weather was wild and as soon as the storm passed we got a great shot of the rainbow!
      – Dom

    1. Hey Neil,

      Thanks for the comment! Feel free to email us if you’re planning to visit the Rocky’s and we’d gladly show you around!
      – Jo

    1. Hey Janay,

      Feel free to come next time haha! Can always book a flight and come stay in the mountains for a while!
      – Dom

    1. Hey Shelby,

      You definitely have to come visit the mountains. If you do and we’re home next summer we will take you out on a few trails!
      – Dom

  6. This post just lets me want to take out those hiking shoes and pack a small backpack and hit the nearest hiking trail. Love the scenery and photos.

    1. Hey Even,

      Appreciate your positive vibes! We love hiking and sharing awesome things to do wherever we go. Definitely dust off the hiking boots and get back out there.
      – Dom

    1. Hey Hacky,

      I’m sure every country and region has lots to offer but yes we’re fortunate with having the Rockies so close to home!
      – Dom

    1. Hey Akriti,

      We’re building a list of awesome hikes to do around Banff and Kananaskis for future and current hikers in the region. I’m glad you like it and hopefully try a few of them when you come to Alberta.
      – Dom

    1. Hey Pooja,

      The Alberta Rocky’s are one of our favourite places in the world. That’s why we love to share them with everyone! 😉
      – Jo

    1. Hey Elizabeth!
      I’m glad you enjoyed the photos as much as we enjoyed taking them! 🙂 Next time you’ll have to be up there with us! 🙂
      – Dom

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