Distance: 24 km
Elevation gain: ~1150 mView mapDownload GPS track
This hike has been described as one of the best three ridgewalks in Kananaskis; Northover and Tent Ridge being the other two. While it is long with significant elevation gain there are very few steep sections to really tax you and the scenery and wildflower displays offer more than enough motivation to keep going.
The trail begins at the west end of the Mist Creek parking area. There is also a nice picnic area here and in hindsight we realized that we should have brought a post-hike dinner to cook on a campfire. Shortly the trail crosses the highway and begins a mild-moderate ascent through nice forest, bearing generally north. After a little over 2 km reach a fork. Left follows the valley in which Mist Creek flows and is the way you will return, while right begins ascending the ridge. Ascending the ridge in this direction (right) will allow you to hike with the sun on your back and saves you a couple of steep ascents when you would be most tired. Wildflowers are prolific on the approach as well.
After about 2 hours of hiking up a moderate grade with one frustrating 100 m descent just before the ridge, reach the south summit of Mist Ridge. Most of the ridge is visible from here; note the number of ups and downs awaiting you. From this point simply hike north along the ridge. There is good trail in many places, but for some inexplicable reason the trail often does not follow the ridgecrest and hence eliminates half the scenery. We spent nearly all our time on the crest and the going is easy nearly the entire way, trail or no trail.
The usual descent point off the ridge is Rickert's Pass, most easily described as the lowest point before an old burned forest that is visible for most of the hike. The trail is obvious and impossible to miss. As you descend watch for wild onions just above treeline and patches of glacier lilies below treeline once the grade eases. The valley trail out is mostly level and the forest is old growth and open. While the trail never really comes close to Mist Creek there are several smaller creeks crossing the trail; a larger one near the end requires the loss and re-gaining of 50 m, the only real elevation gain on the way out. There are several very nice and unofficial campsites along the trail as well.