With temperatures expected to be in the high 20s – the low 30s if you take into account the humidex – Connie and I felt it best not to tackle anything terribly strenuous. Neither of us handle heat well and so we picked an easy hike, something with not too much elevation gain or distance. With that in mind. Carry Ridge caught our attention. It’s a relatively “new” trail, only appearing in the latest edition of the Kananaskis Trail Guide.
The route follows a low ridge that extends for many kilometres. Along the top, we’ll travel through a mix of open meadows carpeted in flowers, with occasional forested sections in between. Like any of these front range trails you can expect to find wet sections with mud, deep grasses, mosquitoes (oddly few this day), dark mossy spruce groves, aspen woods, and cows.
The trail head located right at the entrance to Kananaskis Country west of Turner Valley, at the sign in fact, where there is parking for a few cars.
Immediately one heads up the slope behind the sign, heading east a bit for a moment, then north. At a fence the trail drops steeply down to a boggy valley below. There is a side trail here which takes a slightly less angled route down, which is what we choose to follow.
Reaching the bottom we pass through a wet marshy area, one of many we’ll see this day. Heading off through the grass, the trail heads east to a fence line. This is the border of the park and the Anchor D Guest Ranch, whose buildings can be seen off in the distance.
Rising a bit then dropping down again, we head left a little into a spruce grove, passing through a number of ugly muddy and boggy area before emerging in another meadow directly below our objective. Horses use this trail and this section is chewed up badly making travel difficult – the only un-fun part of this trip. It’d be nice to avoid this section, but it appears there is no real way around it.
Heading back to the fence, we climb the slopes above us. This is the south end of Carry Ridge, which we’ll soon summit (calling it a summit might be pushing it). Along here I find a $20 bill – thank you who ever dropped it.
At the top there is a gate and obvious horse trail coming in from the Anchor D Ranch. Unlike the lower section of the trail, there are no wet spots up here, so no mud, just the occasional pile o’ horse poop.
Looking northwest we can see the ridge extending off in the distance. It undulates a little as ridges are apt to do, but any height losses are modest.
Heading off into the meadows, the trail here is so crowded by tall grasses that it’s sometimes hard to see where it is. In the trees it’s always more obvious.
Before long we’re at the top, at a small tree fringed grassy area. The views are not far reaching but still pleasant enough. To the west are more rolling ridges, collectively know as the Entrance Ridges – Muley Ridge and Forked Ridge being two of them. Side trails, which can be seen every so often along this section, can be seen heading off to the west (and down) allow you access to them, along with another trail in the valley bottom. You could make a loop by taking these routes on the way back, but we elected to make our trip a simple out and back.
Those ridges mentioned, while a bit higher than the one we are one, appear more heavily forested, so the views are probably not great.
John Ware Ridge, to the east, can be barely seen through the trees. Its open slopes are inviting and one can access it from Carry Ridge, by dropping down to the valley below and bushwhacking up the west facing slopes.
From the high point, the ridge drops down in a series of steps. As you travel the trail begins to peter out and in open areas it often disappears altogether. Even with no trail, the route is always obvious though – just follow the narrow ridge top.
Given the wet spring we had, everything is lush and it was hard work hiking through the deep grasses. Our movements stirred up hundreds of dragon flies, which buzzed noisily around us. They were camera shy however and resisted my attempts to photograph them – as soon as I focused, they’d quickly fly away. They eat mosquitoes as I understand it, so that makes them okay in my books.
After a few more minor ups and downs, we come to the end of the trail, at, you guessed it, another meadow. Actually a faint trail heads down to the east, and perhaps it’s an access route to John Ware Ridge I spoke of earlier. At the far side of that field, in a nice shaded grassy area, we have our lunch. This is the end of the ridge proper.
Serenaded by cows, which can be seen in the valleys below us on either side of the ridge, we enjoy our lunch of smoked salmon sandwiches and wine. The heat by this time was stifling and the humidity made it feel like a sauna. It occurs to us we’ll have some elevation to gain on the way back, including up to the high point, then again at that last little bump before the car. I starting dreading the idea.
With the hot muggy conditions the hike back seemed more like a death march at times. Just before we head down, Connie manged to find not a four leaf clover, but rather one with five leaves. Wow! I understand four leaved examples bring luck, but five brings both luck and money (we’re waiting).
Surprisingly Mosquitoes were not a problem this day, except in the low wet areas.
There were lots of flowers and edibles to be seen on this hike. There were strawberries everywhere, with yummy fruit and raspberries and gooseberries (or currants), not yet in season. Flowers include Brown-Eyed Susans, Fireweed and Horsemint, and many others.
Typically one would only find us on this trail in the early spring or late fall, when other more westerly trail are under snow or inaccessible due to seasonal road closures. An advantage of visiting in the shoulder season is that the boggy areas are frozen and so easier to hike through. Plus no mosquitoes.
While no one would ever call this hike exciting, it’s still pleasant enough and we thoroughly enjoyed it…even with the heat. This trail can be accessed all year round. On our visit, we had the ridge to ourselves and saw no one else.
If you wish more information on this route, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: July, 2013.
Location: Kananaskis west of Turner Valley.
Distance: 10km return.
Height gain from start: 195m.
Height gain cumulative: 360m.
NOTE: all heights and distances are approximate.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.