This hike takes in two long and low bumps, side-by-side Carry Ridge and Muley Ridge, right at the entrance to Kananaskis in the Sheep River area west of Turner Valley. They’re not terribly high and often times you’ll be in the trees, but still there are some surprisingly far reaching views to be seen from the tops of each. While the route we did was counter-clockwise, you could do it in the other direction just as easily. Expect some mud in low lying sections.
These two, along with other modest-sized hills and ridges in the immediate area, are sometimes known collectively as “Entrance Ridges”. They come into season early and if fact they’re accessible and for the most part easily doable, all year round. We for one use them for spring conditioning, in anticipation of warmer weather and loftier goals. You know, to get our mountain legs back after winter.
In summer expect to share the trail with equestrian riders and even cows. We saw perhaps a half dozen hikers the day of our visit – not too busy I guess. We were blessed with gorgeous blue skies and hope when you visit it’s the same for you. Makes a nice hike all the more special.
Park at the Kananaskis sign along Highway #546. There is a good-sized pull off here. Take the trail heading east as it goes up and over a low bump. At an old road zig-zag down to a wet grassy valley. Coming in from the left is the trail you’ll use on the return leg.
Straight ahead is a grassy slope that is the southern most tip of Muley Ridge. Head east towards a fence and follow it for as time. On the other side is land belonging to the Anchor D Ranch, an outfitting and guiding firm that offers wilderness trail rides and overnight equestrian camping trips. Drop down a bit and enter a low treed swampy area. The mud is unavoidable. Find a place to cross a stream.
Carry Ridge comes into view. Trending back towards the fence, head up on gentle grassy slopes. Higher up, at the Anchor D gate where riders on horseback from there enter Kananaskis, continue north on the obvious trail. The ridge is mostly open to the west, not so much to the east. Take some time to admire Muley Ridge to your left, and below the dark confines of the valley separating you from it. If you can find a break in the trees, the many bumps making up John Ware Ridge off to your right can be seen. To the north is an endless series of low rolling hills. Ditto to the south. And it’s green all around.
Continue on past the “summit” (well we think it’s a summit – hard to say really) then drop down passing a junction. This is the trail you’ll take soon enough. First, take in more of Carry Ridge, turning around where ever it suits you.
Back at the junction, drop down to a saddle. At a muddy clearing in the thick woods look for the trail heading up Muley Ridge. Prepare to be confused by crisscrossing cow and games trails here. Up you go (some dead fall and also icy patches for us) and before long your atop the next objective. Turn right and take in the north end of the ridge. It continues on for perhaps half a click before ending at wooded slopes – a good turns around point. This is where we had our lunch break.
Heading back south, you’ll notice Muley is more wooded than Carry. Still, there are breaks in the trees allowing one some decent views. That’s Forked Ridge directly west, lots of rolling hills in behind and big peaks, still under snow and inaccessible account of winter road closures, further on still. Muley is a tad bit higher than Carry.
Enjoy the ridge walk, the going is easy and for the most part fairly flat. At a grassy area, drop down into a fairly open valley, turn left, play in the mud a bit and connect up back up with the trail you came in on. Up and over that annoying bump (if not for Anchor D land, it could be skirted) and in no time, you’ll be back at your ride.
Carry and Muley are in the lowly foothills and no one has ever used the word “spectacular” to describe them. At the same time, an outing in the woods, especially in spring when options are somewhat limited, is never that bad. More than just providing a good workout, summiting both (okay summit is pushing it, they perhaps too low to qualify), affords one lots of nice things to see and the chance to connect with nature. How’s that not a win-win?
If you wish more information on this trail, by all means contact us!
Date of adventure: April, 2016.
Location: Kananaskis AB, Sheep River area.
Distance: 9km loop.
Height gain maximum: 250m (I think the GPS is off, more like 200m I think).
Height gain cumulative: 350m.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.