This hike delivers rad views and a solid calf workout.
Watsootch Peak is so close to Kananaskis Village, if you’ve driven past the village sign you’ve gone too far. This easy scramble is perfect for people staying at the village looking to bag a quick peak. A roadside gravel pullout north of the Kananaskis Village sign on the east side of Hwy 40 is where your adventure begins.
Once at the summit, I find all fatigue from climbing disappears
Hike out of the ditch and follow the cairns (AKA rock piles) into the rocky riverbed. Stick to the left and shortly you’ll come upon a large cairn and rock arrow pointing you in the right direction. As you look back you’ll notice Mt. Kidd dominating the skyline. Follow the dirt path along the left side of the riverbed and start to gain elevation. Everybody loves elevation!
Wind up through the trees and begin to feel the slow burn in your calves as you climb higher. At some points it may feel as if your calf muscle is going to burst out of your leg, but don’t worry, that won’t happen.
The straightforward dirt trail leads to rocky outcrop areas; you may need to peep around to make sure you are still on trail, but cairns tend to mark the way. There is a nice lookout around this point where you can see back to the village, the highway, Mt. Kidd, The Wedge mountain and Fortress mountain and ski area.
This is a good spot to have a snack, rest or just take in the gorgeous mountain views. Heading onward and upward stay on top of the ridge following the dirt trail until you reach the base of the scree slope. Keep your eyes open for the elusive wolverine, which in fact may just be the friendly hoary marmot.
At some points it may feel as if your calf muscle is going to burst out of your leg, but don’t worry, that won’t happen.
At the base of the scree you’ll notice several trails leading up to the top of Wasootch Peak. Feel free to make your way up however your heart desires! (It is far easier to take the solid looking rock route up rather than slog your way through scree, as you will be taking two steps forward and four steps back).
I recommend staying to the right as you don’t want to get too far into the center of the gully; the better rock is on the right as well. There is never any need to cross over the ridge.
You will reach a solid rock outcrop. Scramble up and over it and BOOM, there you are on the summit of Wasootch Peak. Congratulations! You have just hiked 900 m.
Once at the summit, I find all fatigue from climbing disappears and I’m filled with a renewed energy as I take in the spectacular views. If you look back, you’ll probably be able to see your car. You can also see back to Barrier Lake and Mount Baldy which are a 15-minute drive away.
Don’t forget to sign your name in the summit register, and if you’re feeling cocky about your summit time feel free to write that you made it up there in under two hours and were killing it. (Then realize people have crushed this peak in just over an hour…or less).
Of course it doesn’t matter how long it took you to get to the top, the main goal is to enjoy your hiking experience and gain a closer relationship with the mountains.
Once you have spent ample time at the summit, return the same way you came up. Or if you are ambitious, there is a seven peak traverse option. I know a guy who tried it but broke his ankle on the descent of the sixth peak. Enjoy your hike!