Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 750 m
This is a spectacular hike that is best described in one word: Steep. Very steep. But spectacular nonetheless. On a clear day (which today most certainly was not) views would stretch for miles in all directions but the east, which is blocked the the jagged Opal Range.
The trail to the ridge starts on the north side of King Creek and ascends to the southern end of the ridge. While there are many trails that seem to criss-cross the slopes, following anything reasonably well traveled that heads skyward will get you to the top. It's steep though, and while traction was good on the way up, a dusting of snow or rain - depending on the elevation - made things a little dicey on the way down. Not that there was any exposure or danger, but slipping isn't fun.
Once you crest the ridge you are treated to some fantastic views of the Opal Range - mountains that seem to mirror the rows of teeth in a sharks mouth...at least from what I've seen in pictures. The lower slopes are vast meadows that apparently fill with sheep and grizzlies in the spring and summer. One trip report I saw earlier this year treated the hiker to not one, but two, families of grizzlies. This would be the ideal spot to view them as well as King Creek canyon would keep you completely separate from their area.
From the ridgecrest the trail ascends gently northward for about 1.5 km, reaching a high point marked with a cairn and Canadian flag. While the trail along the ridge comes close to cliffs in spots, there is no exposure and the walk is quite pleasant. Views are continuous and surprisingly varied along the ridge.
Apparently you can descend from the ridge from a point just south of the highpoint into King Creek and loop back to the trailhead via the canyon. As the weather was quickly deteriorating and I figured the canyon would be icy from the creek we didn't attempt this, but at least a few groups were actively searching for the way down when we started our descent.
Today, despite a forecast of "sun" from Environment Canada, there was nothing but cloud at the trailhead at 9:30 am and bands of snow moving in from the south, west, and north. The weather held out until we reached the highpoint, but by that point another system was coming in from over the Opals and within 10 minutes a fairly heavy snow had enveloped the ridge. Within 30 minutes there was more than an inch down, which made for slippery going on the way down. Accumulations decreased rapidly with elevation and by highway 40 only rain was coming down at 2:30, but the top of the ridge and all surrounding mountains were still socked in with snow.
As always, the photos are far more spectacular full-screen. Use the mouse-over function "dim-the-lights" or use the slideshow button.
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Keywords:King Creek, King Creek Ridge, Opal Range, Opals