King Creek Ridge in Kananaskis: Hiking Guide

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There are likely more trails in Kananaskis Country, Alberta than I’ll ever be able to hike. It’s those breathtaking views and ever present wildlife that will keep me trying for years to come though. The first time really stepping into the area was during an Outward Bound Veterans backpacking trip, then again hiking the likes of Tent Ridge. Each were challenging due to required skill and weather, and it seems like the tradition lived on with King Creek Ridge.

The Low Down

  • Distance: An 80km (50min) drive from downtown Canmore.
  • Directions: Off of Hwy 40 in Kananaskis Country.
  • Cell phone range: Yes.
  • Trail Distance: 3.5km one way.
  • Elevation Gain: 730m.
  • Duration: 4hrs.
  • Dogs: Permitted on leash.
  • Crowds: Little traffic.
  • Washrooms: No washrooms, use Leave No Trace etiquette.
  • Entrance fee: Free.
  • Season: Open year round, best used May-November.
  • More information: Visit the AllTrails for info and trail map. Check out the Kananaskis Trail Report prior to attempting this hike.
  • NOTE: This is not an easy or family friendly trail.

In Good Company

It seems that after hiking Tent Ridge, EEOR, and Nahani Ridge together, my hiking buddy Ashley and I seem to have some challenging luck with trails. Ha ha. Perhaps that’s an understatement really. Thankfully, safety always trumps views! There have been times that despite being oh-so-close, the decision is made not to summit. You’ve never met a person more satisfied with a false summit or ridge than myself. It’s never been about the summit, and always been about losing yourself in the beautiful landscapes. Finding a hiking buddy that’s alright with your own philosophy makes the hikes all the better!

Parking

Parking is clearly marked on the side of Hwy40. Actually, during the winter it’s the entrance to a roadway and the trailhead is actually down the road 50m.

King Creek Trail

The trail starts off innocently enough, through the thick woods with decent switchbacks. It is a well used narrow dirt path leading you pleasantly among the greenery. Once the trail steepens greatly, and there are breaks in the tree line, you are exposed on that narrow path. Spikes and poles are highly recommended, with snow or mud it becomes extremely slippery.

There are several points during the trail that offer a fantastic view of the valley and mountain range landscape. Don’t forget to look back during your break and admire the views.

Follow a switchback like trail up to the ridge line, which is treed. Even with the trees, coming up to that ridge and seeing the monster mountain of alpine greatest behind it made our jaws drop.

King Creek Ridge

Pretty sure I was speechless reaching the ridge. It was simply an unexpected bonus and really surprising to see the next ridge so close. It looked monstrous.

Admittedly it was hard to capture exactly how small this view made you feel. If you continue to the right (towards parking lot) then you’ll reach a rocky area that serves as a lookout.

To the left, is the summit.

King Creek Summit

While we were on the ridge, another hiking couple seemingly came from nowhere and surprised us. Being ‘bear aware’ and knowing that there were several trails closed due to activity closer to Canmore, we actually thought for a split second that it was a bear making noise. Thankfully just hikers. Phhhheeeeew. “Ha ha, we thought you were a bear!” With deadpan faces and bear spray in hand they replied that, no joke, there was a bear coming up the other side headed for the summit.

Right.

I’m out.

So no summit for us today. I’m sure it’s beautiful. Ha ha, but not for today.

Nourish Thy Self

Being thanksgiving weekend, there were no coffee shop or brewery stops on the way back this time. Only a very nutritious meal and as much pumpkin pie as we could possibly muster.

Wrapping Up

Even with poles, but no spikes, it took a decent amount of time and boat loads of effort to descend. It was sliiiiiiiipery my friends and there are bruises all over to prove it. So maybe we’ll come back in the summer and actually summit this beast. Still well worth the hike, the views will have us smiling for a good while yet.

Victoria xo