Distance: 10 km
Elevation gain (south to north): ~700 mView mapDownload GPS track
This Kananaskis ridgewalk connects the Highwood Pass parking area to the Little Highwood Pass parking lot. It is a much shorter hike than Mist Ridge
, but the time spent on the ridge is about the same and the sights may even be nicer. It is most easily done as a point-to-point hike from south (Highwood Pass) to north as this keeps the sun on your back and lessens the elevation gain by about 300 m. Two cars or a short hitchhike back up to Highwood Pass are thus necessary.
The trail starts at the north end of the Highwood Pass parking lot. Stay left at the first fork early on, then head up into forest en route to Pocaterra cirque. The trail is ridiculously braided and many routes diverge here, but it appears that they all reconnect shortly before entering the cirque. Pick a well traveled one and don't be an ass by making your own. A few kilometers in, after passing the small tarn, the trail levels and forks as it approaches a small stream. Go right, continue ascending through trees and meadows, and shortly begin the ascent of Pocaterra Ridge. The first bump of the ridge is the highest at a little over 2600 m.
Descending from this highpoint along the ridgecrest is slightly challenging. There are no cliffs or any exposure of that type, but the slope is steep and the rocky soil is rock hard (at least at this time of year) so grip is minimal. The extremely narrow-looking section at the bottom is actually very easy though, so persevere on this steep section knowing that it is by far the most difficult. Beyond this point the trail simply follows the ridgecrest south for a distance of about 4 km.
Descending from the third bump (not nearly as high as it looks) will present you with three diverging trails. We took the middle one which for the most part followed the ridgecrest, I believe the left branch reconnects with this trail, and I have no idea where the right branch goes. Larch tress also appear at this point (Pocaterra cirque is filled with them too), so this would make a great fall hike as well. The final descent from the ridge involves 400 m of elevation loss over just 1.5 km, but presents no difficulties. Just before nearing the road a stream must be crossed, but at this point there is a very nice fallen tree bridging it. Even without the tree, however, crossing would be easy (perhaps calf-deep).