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Wind Ridge Hike

Where:

  • Wind Ridge

 

When:

  • August 22, 2021

 

Who:

  • Ed, Dave, Oak, Luna, Erin, Ian, Rod, Bauer

 

Trailhead:

  • 11 km (ten-minute drive) from Canmore or 103 km (one hour drive) from Calgary
  • take the Dead Mans Flat turn off (exit 98) and head up George Biggy Sr. Road towards Banff Gate Mountain Resort where the parking lot is on the right-hand side before you turn left into the resort area
  • head out of the end of the parking lot and follow the signage as there are seven trails emanating from this parking lot
  • be careful not to take an early left-hand turn as this leads up to Skogan Pass and Pigeon Mountain
  • a little further along, you turn left and then make a quick right onto the new trail
  • the new trail was built through the forest with three bridges in 2018 due to the damage from the 2013 floods

 

 

Degree of difficulty:

  • 750 meters elevation
  • 13 km
  • 4 hours total time on the trail
  • moderate stroll through the trees for the first 4 km and then quite steep for the last 2.5 km up to the ridge
  • once you exit the trees the trail becomes very steep so gear down, take your time, and enjoy the views as your lungs start to explode
  • there is a short but tricky scramble through a rock face near the top that is not everyone’s cup of tea, but you can enjoy great views even if you stop at this point
  • this can be a tricky spot if you have dogs, but Bauer made it look easy
  • you can go to the left around this rock face, but it is very tricky footing with a steep drop off, so the chute is a better option
  • if you don’t mind some scrambling, you can go straight up the rock face, which Ian did on this day
  • once you get through this chute there is another fifteen-minute climb to get to the top of the ridge and then you can hike another 20 minutes or so beyond this to get to another rock outcropping

 

 

Interesting notes:

  • this trail is very spectacular and close to Calgary, which makes for a shorter day
  • the trail is closed from December 1 through June 15 to protect the elk and bighorn sheep in the area
  • beautiful 360-degree views of Centennial Ridge, Pigeon Mountain, Windtower, Mount Lougheed, Three Sisters, Grotto, and Lady Macdonald
  • the trail is named for the wind tunnel effect coming through West Wind Pass, although we had little wind on this day
  • the Pigeon Mountain ski hill near the parking lot was only operational for a few years in the ’60s (it shut down in 1968) and reopened from 1979 through 1983 (when it closed permanently) as the west-facing slopes could not hold enough snow
  • do not get this trail confused with West Wind Pass which starts on the Spray Lakes Road