Cross over the highway, and begin your bushwhacking straight up until you're above the treeline. You may come to a sheer wall, but some brief searching will result in an easy ascent to a relatively flat, treelined section, which will give you a good vantage point to observe the rest of the route.
Make your way up scree slopes toward a gully. The gully is just beneath an ominous cliff band. Follow the gully up and over a rise, where you will find the remainder of your travels fairly easy.
The Opal Ridge is on the East side of the Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40). Park about one kilometre south of the Rocky Creek Bridge in a parking lot on the west side of the highway. This is near the Eau Claire Campground. Find the Rocky Creek Bridge, and it's easy to find the place to park.
There is also a small general store that you can also park behind. This is the fortress gas station where you can park at the north end of the parking area, head up a trail up the creek just a couple hundred meters to the power line. Follow this cut line north (its flat) another couple hundred meters and after you cross the stream coming out of the gully, there is a trail that heads up to Opal. The rest of the trail is obvious. Follow it up. The upper ridge is only a couple of kms long, but has amazing views and mostly level, so easy to traverse without altitude changes.
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Posted By: mud113
- Wed May 20 02:34:02 UTC 2015
Upside-Nice views of the Kananaskis Valley -Easy scramble for beginners and hikers -Nice variation in terrain types -A quick drive from Calgary Downside-Very steep ascent from the parking lot to the ridge -Poorly marked trail in some spots (North ascent) -Easy to miss the trail head if you're not paying attention (North ascent) CommentWe made a go of Opal Ridge North in mid-May 2015. We forgot to set our mileage after getting on Hwy 40 and ended up having to wing it in terms of finding the trail head. As a result, we actually missed it and ended up making our own trail up some steep terrain to the ridge. It wasn't terribly difficult, but it required some bush whacking and more advanced scrambling. While taking this route we came across what looked like some possible trails marked with red ribbons on tree limbs, but each time they disappeared and it was back to route finding until we got to the top of the initial ridge. Once at the initial ridge it's an easy hike to the final ascent.
Around mid-May we encounter some snowy sections, including one at the second last steep scree slope. We were able to dig our boots into the snow and make a latter to the final scree slope. After going through the snow patch it was an easy final hike up some scree and to the top. If you attempt this earlier then Mid-may I'd probably suggest an ice axe and gaiters just in case (depending on weather conditions prior to your hike).
On the way down we were able to follow the official trail to the bottom. At one point we did have to do a bit of route finding after we ended up going too far to the West. This may only have only been an issue due to some snow patches covering the trail. If you stay to the right on your ascent you'll stay on the correct trail. After reaching the bottom, and following the official trail, we discovered that we were parked directly across from the trail head, marked with a very small red ribbon. It's exactly 1 km after Rocky Creek bridge. If you miss it, just head up to the power line opening and head North or South until you see the trail heading up.
Overall it was a good hike that offered some nice views in all directions. I'd say this is a very good trail for hikers and those comfortable with very easy scrambles (only two small sections, one of which can be avoided). The initial ascent to the first ridge may be quite strenuous for some due to its very steep terrain (first 45 minutes to 1 hr of the hike). Some very minor route finding my be required during your ascent due to the trail branching out at some locations and infrequent tree ribbons.
Posted By: Engor
- Fri Jun 01 06:46:14 UTC 2012
QuestionI uploaded GPX track for Opal Ridge South (easy scrambling/difficult hiking)ANSWERS are in this forum: Uploaded GPX track