Dec 182017
 
Lesueur Ridge Wiaporous

That chunk of Kananaskis in the north is generally the domain of the all terrain vehicle. Still, there’s a number of places that can be hiked in the area without the two modes clashing. Lesueur Ridge, right at the K-Country Border, just west of the Forestry Trunk Road (Hwy #40), a bit north of Waiparous Village is an example of that. It’s a fine little loop hike and from its open south facing slopes up at the top there’s wonderful views of huge peaks to the west, rolling ridges to the south and plains off in the east.

The trail head is about a click down the “TransAlta” Ghost River Road, a gravel affair all rutted and bumpy. Expect lots of ice come winter too. Park at the first cattle gate and head north on the obvious trail, west side of the fence line. East/west trending Lesueur Ridge comes into view almost immediately. Gain a little elevation, gravel underfoot and come to a junction.

Lesueur Ridge: a most enjoyable hike with some fine views offered up. A Chris & Connie Adventure!

A decision is to be made – do the loop clockwise, with the most fun (so, high points) near the end or the other way around. We choose the former – of course. So if following our track, turn left here. The trail traverses below Lesueur Ridge. Look at those open grassy slopes, broken by the occasional cliff band, knowing you’ll be up there soon enough. Expect to encounter free-range cattle here, depending on the season. We did – some up near the ridge crest – mountain climbing bovines!

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A gorge, home to little Lesueur Creek, can be seen below to the left. In some places it’d be a long tumble down if one were to trip. Pass through clumps of trees from time to time, some gnarled and bent from the almost always present winds found here (odd, it was dead still this day). Come to Lesueur Creek. Down low here the trail got real icy, and since we forgot our Yaks, we elected to go off trail. If you continue the normal way, it continues west for a wee bit, comes to a cut line, turns hard right and makes a b-line upwards to gain the ridge. We liked our little bushwhacking adventure.

The going for us was easy enough through the trees. Some route finding skills help here, but mostly if you simply head up taking what even line is easiest, you should get to where you’re going. The higher one goes the more the trees thin.

Soon on the gain the ridge and intercept the trail up there. Now the views start, but they get better further on. The north facing side of the ridge offers up little in the way of visual interest and is heavily treed, save for an area that was logged.

The ridge undulates a little, as they are apt to do. Pass through successive bands of trees, an occasional outcropping or promontory making fine view points. An obvious side trail makes a line to the best one. To the west and looking much Wyoming’s Devil’s Tower and even named similarly, is Devil’s Head, the most distinctive peak off in the that direction.

To the right is Blackrock Mountain – we did it long ago but think we should return. Many other mountains are seen, but they’re pretty far away.

Below, the snaking Ghost River is seen. At times so are some sections of the TransAlta Road– and the part we can see is a sheet of ice. More than one truck, and outside the first click or two, a truck is what you need to take it in, almost lost it and went into the ditch. Directly below, Lesueur Creek Gorge, and off in the distance, a sea of trees on the Stoney Nakoda First Nation’s Reserve. If you have a long lens you can also see the Trans-Canada Highway way off there in the distance. To the east, hills transition to the plains.

Up here’s a great lunch spot.

Continuing on, the ridge drops down, sometimes very steeply. In no time, come to the junction passed earlier and soon after it’s back to your car.

Lesueur Ridge can be done all year round. Our visit was done on an oddly snow-free December day. Even the mountains in the west had little of white stuff on them. We saw no one else this day, so I don’t think the trail is overly popular. We liked it, though. From time to time, we heard the winning buzz of ATVs, but they were off in the distance and otherwise it was pretty quiet. Your mileage may vary. In summer it’s a busier and noisier.

There’s options to extend the Lesueur Ridge hike, including taking in a small hill to the west. It looked treed, so we didn’t see much to be gained from it.

What’s in a name? Lesueur was a family that once ranched in the area.

More hikes like this…
Hell’s Ridge.
Windy Point Ridge.
Carry Ridge.

If you wish more information about this trail, by all means contact us!

Date of adventure: December, 2017.
Location: Kananaskis AB, Waiparous area.
Distance: 9km loop.
Height gain maximum: 300m-ish.
Height gain cumulative: 330m-ish.
NOTE: all distances and heights are approximate.
Technical bits, warnings and notes: ATVs can frequent the area.
Reference: Kananaskis Trail Guide by Gillean Daffern.

Lesueur Ridge

Our objective in back, basking in the first light of day, Lesueur Ridge.

TransAlta Ghost River Road

The trailhead is along the “TransAlta” Road north of Waiparous.

Lesueur Ridge Hike

Early in the hike, up a little rise.

Lesueur Ridge Trail

Traversing below the ridge.

Wind Swept Tree Kananaskis

A twisted old tree, a reminder of the tough conditions here.

Lesueur Ridge Hiking Trail

The big peaks are some distance away.

Lesueur Ridge Cattle

Expect to see free range cattle.

Lesueur Ridge Kananaskis

Looking up at Lesueur Ridge.

Hiking Lesueur Ridge

Blue splotches of paint everywhere.

Blackrock Mountain Kananaskis

Devil’s Head back left and right, Blackrock Mountain.

Lesueur Creek Kananaskis

Little Lesueur Creek, all frozen solid.

Hiking up Lesueur Ridge

It got icy down low, so we started up the ridge – here we’re bushwhacking it.

Bear Scratching Kananaskis

Mr Bear’s calling card.

Hiking Lesueur Ridge Kananaskis

The trees thin offering up this nice view.

Lesueur Ridge Alberta

Looking west, the Foothills transition to the Rockies.

Hiking Lesueur Ridge Alberta

Given it’s December, there’s very little snow, even up high.

Lesueur Ridge Cutblock

To the north, a cut block – not much to see here.

Lesueur Ridge Walk

In the trees, snow and ice underfoot.

Ridge Walk Lesueur Ridge

It was a crisp winter’s morning.

Summit Lesueur Ridge

Finally, on the ridge proper, this view of Wild Alberta.

Lesueur Ridge Summit

On the far side of those peaks, Banff National Park.

Top of Lesueur Ridge

To the east, the hills peter out.

Golf Mom Cap

Found on the trail…

Thermos Vietnamese Coffee

Vietnamese Instant Coffee awaits – hooked on the stuff.

Walking Lesueur Ridge

A most enjoyable hike.

Taking in Lesueur Ridge

Ready to move in…

Lesueur Ridge Wiaporous

Where we just visited.

View from Lesueur Ridge

Looking west offers up the best views.

Views Lesueur Ridge

Down there Lesueur Creek and further back the Ghost River.

Chris BIGDoer.com

Your humble author.

Trans Alta Road Wiaporous

The TransAlta Road is a sheet of ice.

Lesueur Ridge Views

At the east end of the ridge, we’ll soon drop down.

Lesueur Ridge View

We keep looking back…

Devil's Head Kananaskis

Devil’s Head can be seen all the way from Calgary.

Hiking down Lesueur Ridge

A steep descent.

Lesueur Ridge Junction

Joining up with the trail in.

Kananaskis Hiking Ice

Ice was a hazard this day – and we forgot the Yaks.

Lesueur Ridge Route

We did Lesueur Ridge clockwise – stubs are view points.

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6 Comments on "Lesueur Ridge"

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Carol Lee
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Carol Lee

Great images and great share! Thank You Chris & Connie!

Olivier Du Tré
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Olivier Du Tré

Best view of the Ghost Valley!

Connie Biggart
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Connie Biggart

So nice to get out so late in the season with my best friend!