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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
- Take Trans Canada Highway from Calgary towards Canmore.
- Take Exit 118 towards Kananaskis.
- Turn left and stay on Kananaskis Trail / AB 40 for roughly 18 km.
- Turn left into the parking lot for Wasootch Ridge (There is a path right next to the car park/with a little sign).
- Take Highway 2 south from Edmonton down towards Calgary.
- Then turn east onto Stoney Trail NW/ Highway 201.
- 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.
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.
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”!
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.
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.
- Lots of water!
- 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.
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!
Dom & Jo