Looking for a summit this winter? The King Creek Ridge hike in Kananaskis is a challenging yet rewarding winter trek! You can never go wrong with time outside in Kananaskis Country. So pick a clear day and witness some of the most spectacular views the Canadian Rockies has to offer.
Before you go, you should know that the beginning of the King Creek Ridge hike is very steep. The reward from the ridge is so worth it, but it requires the two-kilometre slog beforehand.
About King Creek Ridge in Kananaskis
Location: Kananaskis Country, Highway 40
Distance: 8 kilometres out and back
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult (very steep sections)
Elevation: 800 metre gain
Time: 4 – 6 hours
Dog-friendly: Dogs are allowed on the trail (on-leash only). I didn’t bring Bella this time, but mountain-friendly dogs would enjoy this one.
Features: Incredible views of Mount Winter, the Kananaskis Lakes, and the surrounding Rocky Mountain landscapes. This steep hike is well worth the views from the ridge.
Finding the King Creek Ridge Trailhead
One nice thing about visiting King Creek Ridge is that the trailhead is quite easy to locate. In the wintertime, and especially with snow on the ground, the packed trail should be fairly obvious.
From Calgary, drive west on the Trans Canada Highway, exit at Kananaskis Country, and then drive south on Highway 40 until you reach the gate closed for the winter. The drive is about 1.5 hours depending on your location in Calgary.
The closed gate is next to the right-hand turn-off into Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. You’ll find parking at the entrance of King Creek Day Use Area. This is a popular spot for hiking and rock/ice climbing, so there will usually be other vehicles, too.
Finally, once you’re geared up with your hiking essentials, walk north across the bridge over the creek and then find the trail on the right-hand side. The hike begins in the forest and becomes steep very quickly.
Looking for easier hikes? 5 Easy Hikes for Rocky Mountain Rookies (Plus a Bonus!)
The First Two Kilometres
The King Creek Ridge hike begins in the woods and becomes very steep for the first 2 kilometres. Over that short distance, you’ll gain about 550 metres in elevation. Once you reach the ridge, the hike becomes more gradual. I highly recommend bringing trekking poles and trail crampons in the winter months.
Be sure to check Avalanche Canada before you head out, to become aware of any potential risk in the area. Kananaskis Country is avalanche country.
The King Creek Ridge Hike To The Summit
After reaching the ridge, the King Creek Ridge hike becomes a gentle rise to the summit. I stopped often to take in the south views of the Kananaskis Lakes and Mount Wintour towering above all the rest. There are several lookoffs where you’ll find views of Highway 40 below; the cars look like ants travelling to and fro.
This ridge offers some of the best views in Kananaskis Country, in relatively short order. The entire 8 kilometre out and back hike takes between 4 to 6 hours depending on your speed. In the winter, it may not be the best trail for children. This is certainly not a trail for inexperienced hikers, though it could be a good place to learn in the summer. If you’re looking for something easy, avoid King Creek Ridge in the wintertime.
There are some spectacular views from the summit. Once you reach the first peak, continue on to the second if it’s safe to do so. When I was there, I able to make my way across the ridge. The views were absolutely worth it!
Winter Safety in the Mountains
In the winter, it’s incredibly important to stick to the snow-packed trail on the ridge. Just six inches to the side of the trail, I stuck my trekking pole deep into the snow covering nearly tip to handle. Off the trail, you risk stumbling onto a snow cornice (an overhanging edge of snow on a ridge) that can create a break or avalanche. This can be a fatal situation. Best to stay on the trail.
You’ll want to make sure you have proper winter clothing and gear to stay safe and have fun on colder winter days. Remember to bring layers. You may not wear your shell at the beginning, but it’s generally useful once you’re on the ridge.
Other Kananaskis Country hikes you might enjoy:
- The Chester Lake Hike in Winter Is Better Than Most
- The Rawson Lake Hike in Alberta (With a Surprise Visit!)
- Hiking the Loop Around Upper Kananaskis Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Press play to see what this hike is actually like!
Have you hiked King Creek Ridge, winter or summer? Share your experience in the comments below. Thanks for reading!