Visitors 66
70 photos

Distance: 15.5 km
Elevation gain: 1480 m
View map
Download GPS track

With a trail leading all the way to the top of 2819 m Mt. Allan, this is apparently the highest official trail in all of Canada. It trail was built in 1967 by the Rocky Mountain Ramblers to commemorate Canada's centennial, and hence the ridge you ascend along is known as Centennial Ridge.

The hike begins in the Ribbon Creek parking lot, just to the right of a large sign indicating that the trail is closed from April 1 to June 21 so that sheep can lamb in peace (or grizzlies can eat the lambs in peace). The trail follows a series of intersecting old roads and trails, but at each intersection there is a sign and so it's near impossible to get lost. I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, but watch how the stick-figure hiker on the signs changes from a normal gait to one for an ascent just before things get steep. One of the old roads has been significantly damaged by the 2013 floods, but it is still easily hiked beside the unusually deep and narrow gorge carved out by the floodwaters.

After ascending a little over 200 m on about 2 km of old road, the first view of the hike is obtained as the trail brushes up against a meadow and Mt. Kidd looms to the south. At this point the trail begins a steep and unrelenting ascent, climbing 550 m over just 1.5 km, then after a very short reprieve, climbing another 160 m over just 500 m. The initial portion of the ascent is in pine forest, but this quickly gives way to open southeast-facing meadows filled with wildflowers. We counted over 2 dozen species of flower in bloom! Cross your fingers there's a breeze though or you'll cook.

Once this steep ascent is vanquished you'll be on the spine of Centennial Ridge and have nearly 2.5 km of easy walking with expansive views and little elevation change. Orange-brown Mt. Allan is visible to the northwest, as well as the remainder of the ascent route. You'll note that you need to lose some of that well earned elevation in order to complete the ascent, but it's only 40 m and despite the appearance from this angle the route up Mt. Allan is far less steep than what you just endured. Midway between where you now stand and the summit you'll also encounter some interesting conglomerate rock formations. A few minor scrambly bits after that section can mostly be avoided with decent routefinding.

From the summit of Mt. Allan the option exists to descend along the ridge to the north and connect up with Highway 1 at Dead Man's Flats. This route, however, is currently missing a bridge that washed out in 2013 and you'd also need a car at the other end, so most people just head back down via the ascent route.

Categories & Keywords
Category:Lifestyle and Recreation
Subcategory:Outdoors
Subcategory Detail:Hiking
Keywords:Centennial Ridge, Kananaskis, Mt. Allan, Olympic Summit, hiking