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The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

One of the best hikes I’ve now done in Kananaskis Country is the one to the summit of Grizzly Peak via Grizzly Col from the trailhead at Highwood Pass. The 360° views from the top are outstanding.  Even though the trail isn’t signed at all, it’s obvious once you know what you’re looking for. If you’ve ever done the Pocaterra Ridge hike, you’ll have no problem finding the turnoff.

All told it’s four kilometres one way to Grizzly Col from Highwood Pass and another 0.8 kilometres to Grizzly Peak. There’s a gain of 518 metres to reach the col and another 165 metres to reach the summit of Grizzly Peak. Allow five to six hours for the return trip so you can hang around the col and/or the summit and take in the views.

Finding the trail is the crux of the hike as the scramble on the summit ridge isn’t as daunting as it looks from afar. From the Highwood Pass parking lot start on the trail that hikers take to reach Pocaterra Cirque. After you’ve hiked all of a few hundred metres turn left onto an unsigned trail that runs through a muddy section heading for the woods. Before you start look up and off in the distance you can see Pocaterra Ridge. That is the general direction you need to go.

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

The Grizzly Peak hike starts at Highwood Pass

Stay on the trail as it crosses a creek, picking your way across muddy sections. Don’t take any trails to the left early in the hike. You need to pass Pocaterra Tarn before you start even thinking of turning off. The trail is undulating initially and then it starts to climb, though only moderately. Cross avalanche slopes filled with wildflowers. Definitely make some noise through here. So far I have never seen so much as bear scat in the area but grizzlies are known to hang out around Highwood Pass. Continue on the obvious trail to Pocaterra Tarn. Remain on the trail until you see the rocks in the photo below and then turn left. (It’s not a big pile of rocks but the trail looks substantial. If you go right you’ll end up heading for Pocaterra Ridge.)

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

There are rocks marking the junction between going left for Grizzly Peak and right for Pocaterra Ridge

From the turnoff head up through trees and onto a grassy slope. You’ll be able to see the fourth summit along the Pocaterra Ridge trail. Continue up on the well-defined trail that becomes very scree like the higher you go. It gets hot through here with all the black rock. Catch your breath at Grizzly Col and take in the view before continuing up towards Grizzly Peak. You may see some people scrambling up the very steep Mt. Tyrwhitt on the right.

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

After you hike up through a short section of woods you get into the views

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

The trail to Grizzly Peak is not signed but it’s obvious

The Grizzly Peak hike in Kananaskis Country

Looking back at the trail heading up towards Grizzly Col

The Grizzly Peak hike in Kananaskis Country

Hikers scrambling up the steep slopes of Mt. Tyrwhitt from Grizzly Col

The hike up from Grizzly Col to the ridge is short – perhaps 15 minutes at most. Once you reach the ridge turn left and follow the well-traveled trail, scrambling up and along a very rocky section for the last 100 metres or so. There are lots of handholds and it’s really not so difficult. The reward on the summit are views stretching for miles in all directions. Return to the ridge for a well earned picnic lunch.

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Heading up from Grizzly Col

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

The route up to Grizzly Peak

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

On the summit of Grizzly Peak

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Exceptional views of Paradise Valley along with plenty of bighorn sheep sightings

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Trying to tire out Rosie the Bernese Mountain dog puppy

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Looking towards Pocaterra Ridge

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Enjoying the view from Grizzly Col

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Rosie sits on a willing stranger

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country

Pocaterra Tarn is one of the landmarks on both the Pocaterra Ridge walk and on the Grizzly Peak hike

The Trailhead for Grizzly Peak

Park at the Highwood Pass parking lot in Kananaskis Country. Note that the road over Highwood Pass is closed from December 1 – June 15th.

Other nearby hikes you might enjoy:

The Grizzly Peak Hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
HikeBikeTravel
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