With easy accessibility off Highway 66 near Bragg Creek, the Forgetnenot Ridge hike is one of five great hikes that you can do in the area – the others being Prairie Mountain, Moose Mountain, Nihahi Ridge and Powderface Ridge. The hard part of the hike isn’t the initial steep climb but finding the trailhead. It probably took us 25 minutes of false starts before we were sure we were heading in the right direction.
Once we found the Wildhorse Trail I knew we were on the right track.
With a steep start, you may be wondering what you got yourself into. But once you’re through the woods and onto a ridge, the views start to unfold. Look for the Ford Knolls beneath Nihahi Ridge. As you get higher you’ll eventually see Moose Mountain and Prairie Mountain off in the distance as well as nearby Powderface Ridge. Pass the Holey Rock Tree – called the ultimate wind chime by Gillian Daffern.
Continue on the trail, a little less steeply, through the trees interspersed with some grassy sections. There are steep side trails up to the Forgetmenot Ridge but you can also continue on a well-trodden trail to a cairn just below the ridge some distance on. From the cairn pictured below the angle flattens and you have a couple of options once your reach the ridge. Turn left (north) and follow the ridge over beautiful, lichen covered rocks in wild shades of lime green and orange to a huge cairn (and windbreak) overlooking the Elbow River at a height of 2,240 metres. This is the turnaround point for many people including me and my friend Sarah.
Alternatively you can continue south on Forgetmenot Ridge to Forgetmenot Mountain, a one way distance of about 3.5 kilometres. We’ll just have to come back to do that part of the trail.
I heartily recommend the Forgetmenot Ridge hike. It would be a beautiful hike to do in fall with the grasses in shades of red and yellow. Hiking in spring green would also be very beautiful. All told it took us about five hours round-trip. Elevation gain was in the order of 700 metres over a one way distance of about 10 kilometres – but don’t quote me on this one.
The road to the trailhead is closed from December 1st – May 14th.
Getting to the Forget Me Not Trailhead
- Take Highway 66 from Bragg Creek all the way to the junction with the Powderface Trail. Turn left to stay on asphalt and follow it towards the Little Elbow Campground. When it turns to dirt road, continue straight for about 200 metres. Look for parking for about 10 cars on your right – across from the Harold Chapman pedestrian bridge. (You won’t be able to see the bridge immediately from the road.)
- If you can’t find parking here, retrace your steps to the stop sign. Turn right and follow it around to find a larger parking lot.
- To start hiking look for a trail leading down towards the river from the small parking lot. You’ll see the Harold Chapman pedestrian bridge. Cross it.
- Take a trail heading left until you find what looks like a dirt road, about seven minutes along. Head right on it and look for another trail – with orange markers on the left – perhaps another five minutes up. It’s called the Wildhorse Trail but there’s little in the way of signage.
- According to Gillean Daffern’s book – Kananaskis Country Trail Guide – you follow the Wildhorse Trail for 800 metres until you see a cairn, shortly after crossing a small, eroded creek bed. Turn right and start climbing.
- We didn’t have to ford any rivers but we did cross a large dry river bed with orange markers pointing the way. If you park at Forgetmenot Pond you will have to ford the Little Elbow River – and then weave on unmarked trails towards the Wildhorse Trail.