All About the Wasootch Ridge Hike in Kananaskis

The Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis follows a challenging route over multiple peaks and features an optional scramble. Along this route you can expect to find stunning mountain top views as well as dramatic valleys on either side of the ridge.

Wasootch Ridge is a Kananaskis fan favourite!

Looking for more hikes in Kananaskis? Click here.

Now, let’s go hiking!

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How to get to the Wasootch Ridge Trailhead

The Wasootch Ridge trailhead is located in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park which is in Kananaskis Country; my favourite hiking destination in the Canadian Rockies! The trailhead is around 1 hour away from both Banff and Calgary.

The trailhead parking lot, located just off Highway 40 (AKA Kananaskis Way) isn’t overly large, so you may have to park alongside the road. If you want to ensure you get a spot, arrive early.

Note that you’ll need a Kananaskis conservation pass to visit Kananaskis.

Wasootch Ridge trailhead in Kananaskis
Wasootch Ridge trailhead

About the Wasootch Ridge Trail

  • Distance: 13.4km
  • Elevation gain: 931m
  • Rated: hard
  • Type of trail: out & back
  • Estimated time: 5.5 hours

The Wasootch Ridge trail is a challenging hike that features multiple peaks; 5 smaller peaks and one larger peak with a scramble. The trail is well trafficked and is best hiked from April to October.

The Wasootch Ridge hike can be completed earlier in the season, however there is oftentimes snow until late in the season, so it’s recommended users bring micro-spikes. I hiked Wasootch Ridge mid May and luckily came across no snow or icy conditions.

Of course, pay attention to conditions and check out the Kananaskis Valley trail report prior to hiking. Users can hike Wasootch in the winter, however it is very steep and slippery: bring micro-spikes and poles for sure. And ONLY attempt the final peak you have mountaineering experience/avalanche training.

The trailhead is unmarked and is located on the East side of the parking lot; behind the wooden picnic tables. If you’ve reached the big trail sign, you’ve gone too far.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
Kananaskis Peak (left) and Wasootch Peak (right) towering above the dried up Wasootch Creek

Summiting Wasootch Ridge

As I previously mentioned, the Wasootch Ridge trailhead is located behind the picnic tables. It’s unmarked, but you’ll know you’ve found it if the trail starts gaining steep elevation through a forested section.

The initial part of the Wasootch Ridge hike is an absolute leg burner; this is where you’ll gain the majority of the elevation. However it doesn’t last too long (30-45 minutes) until you break the tree line and things start levelling out.

Once you break the tree line you’ll find views of Barrier Lake to the North and Nakiska ski resort to the South.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
Traversing Wasootch Ridge

Once you reach the ridge, you’ll come in and out of a few forested sections as you trek across multiple small(er) peaks. This section is not overly strenuous which gives you a chance to chill and take in the surrounding views as you make your way across.

Note that this hike gets quite chilly and windy, so it’s advised you bring layers and a jacket. I’ve put together this guide which outlines what to wear for Rocky Mountain hiking, however I’ve got my favourite jackets linked here.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis

The photo below outlines the “end” of the hike, unless you’re up for a scramble.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
The Final peak on Wasootch Ridge in the distance
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Scramble up the Final Peak on Wasootch Ridge

Once you see the final large peak, the scrambling begins. For a short while you’ll continue waking along flat terrain, until the trail moves downwards and to the right.

^You’ll notice there’s one point in the trail where you’re not sure if the trail goes straight up or down to the right… It’s down to the right. Although I did see a handful of people climbing straight up to the top of the ridge. Only attempt the top of the ridge if you’re a very experienced scrambler as it can get quite sketchy.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
The faint trail leading up to Wasootch Ridge’s final peak

This section of the Wasootch Ridge hike gets a little nervewracking for those afraid of heights. As you trek alongside the ridge, there’ll be a steep drop to the valley floor to your right.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
View from the Final Peak on Wasootch Ridge

After a while the trail will start gaining more significant elevation. This section is where you’ll need to use your hands and where the Wasootch Ridge hike turns into a scramble.

This scramble is a bit technical as you’ll face loose rock as well as large rocks you’ll need to navigate around. Take your time, be aware of other hikers, and engage in proper scrambling safety.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis
Wasootch Ridge Peak

Gloves are very useful for the scramble (I use these/men’s version) due to the cold weather and for hand protection.

Once you reach the top of the ridge again it’ll only be a quick trek to the final peak!

A Word on the Return Hike

It’s highly recommended that users take the same route on the descent as they did on the ascent. There is a route that takes hikers down directly from the final peak and back along Wasootch Creek. This route however is extremely steep and very dangerous for those who have minimal scrambling experience.

This alternate route is especially dangerous during the offseason when snow and ice is abundant on Wasootch Ridge.

Wasootch Ridge hike in Kananaskis

On the regular return route – if you plan to backtrack down to the lower trail again – make sure you take the same trail as you did on the ascent. I accidentally started descending too early and got caught in a little rockslide that could have been deadly.

Wasootch Ridge is an excellent hike, but users do need to take necessary precautions and be aware of their surroundings on the scramble!

Explore More Hikes In Kananaskis

Kananaskis is an area just outside of Banff that’s made up of multiple Wildland Areas and Provincial Parks. Kananaskis is my favourite hiking destination in the Canadian Rockies, so I urge you to explore more hikes in the area!

Click here to explore more of Kananaskis.

Featured Kananaskis Hikes:
Explore Kananaskis Country by Area:
Visit National Parks Nearby:

Looking for more hikes? Click here to explore all of my trail guides.

Where to Stay in Kananaskis Country

Unless you plan on camping, lodging options are a bit limited in Kananaskis. Here are a few options for every budget:

  • HostelHI-Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel.
  • GlampingSundance by Basecamp. Sundance gives you the opportunity to camp in a regular tent, glamping tent, or tipi.
  • Mid-range hotelCrosswaters Resort in Kananaskis Village.
  • Luxury Stay – the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge is one of the most luxurious getaways in the Banff-region. At the lodge you’ll find the Kananaskis Nordic Spa which is the most sought after spa in the region. Mount Engadine Lodge is another unique option which gives you the opportunity to lodge in yurts, glamping tents, and cabins. Gourmet food and great views included.
  • Stay nearby – If these Kananaskis stays aren’t what you’re looking for, check out lodging options in nearby Canmore or Banff.
  • Camping – Kananaskis offers tons of camping facilities scattered throughout the area and they almost always have availability. If you’re one to free-camp, Kananaskis has PLUZ (Public Land Use Zones) and Wildland areas, both of which you can random camp in for free. This is something I have yet to figure out in the Kananaskis region, but if you’re interested you can find more information about it here

Happy adventuring!

Taylor ♡

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About The Author

HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.

After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.

I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.

I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.


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