Distance: 14.5 km
Elevation gain: 750 mView mapDownload GPS track
Powderface Ridge is a popular early or late season hike at the end of Highway 66. There are several variations of the trail, all with decent views, making it suitable for a variety of fitness levels.
The trail starts at the end of Highway 66. Do not be confused by the signed trailhead with a similar name further to the east on Highway 66. Park on the shoulder of the road immediately before pavement gives way to the unpaved Powderface Trail (a road; currently closed). The trail to Powderface Ridge begins here, ascending the small gravel hill by the road and continuing north up the ridge. The ascent is moderately steep and unrelenting, climbing 400 m over 2 km before the first open views are obtained. A further 700 m (80 m vertical) brings you to a small col between Powderface Ridge (west) and an eastern outlier, just 50 m higher to the east. Many people ascend this outlier and call it day; the views are excellent and the hike is short enough to be completed after work in the spring
The official trail to Powderface Ridge decends into the trees at this point, undulating up and down for about 2.3 km before ascending to the northern end of the ridge. Oddly, this bypasses nearly 80% of the ridge! A far better approach would seem to be to ascend to the ridge at or near the col. We had planned to do this, but a questionable knee injury had us play it safe and stick to the trail. Others have done this, however, and I wouldn't do this hike again on the trail. It makes no sense to bypass most of the ridgewalk for viewless slogging through trees!
From the northern end of the ridge we descended west to another low point. Where the trail turned to the north into the trees we continued to the west, ascending a small hill. While it appeared easy to descend off this hill to the southwest, we played it safe again and descended NNW towards an obvious clearing and trail junction. At the junction you can head east down Powderface Creek, reaching, in about 8 km, Highway 66 several kilometers to the northeast of where you started, or head west and connect up with Powderface Trail (the road). We did the later and hiked 6 km along gravel Powderface Trail to our car. This was pleasant, but I wouldn't recommend doing it when the road is open as the dust thrown up by passing cars would be terrible.