Hiking Centennial Ridge (Short Version)

by - Thursday, July 27, 2017

Centennial Ridge is a beautiful ridgewalk in the heart of Kananaskis. Although it is known for being a long and strenuous trail - it is the highest maintained trail in the Canadian Rockies - there is no need to summit Mount Allen to enjoy gorgeous views (but it is definitely worthwhile if you have the time and energy)! Departing from Ribbon Creek, you reach meadows full of wildflowers in only 3 steep kilometres. Hike as far as you wish, enjoy sweeping views of Kananaskis Valley, then go back the way you came. Treat yourself to ice cream or dinner at nearby Kananaskis Village afterwards.

Centennial Ridge Trail, Kananaskis

Route Description

Take Hidden Trail from Ribbon Creek parking lot.  The trailhead is near the information kiosk on the north side of the parking lot. After 300 metres, turn left.

September 2018 update: The first section of Centennial Trail was rebuilt recently, but is well marked so it's easy to find your way.


From here, the trail gets very steep! You will gain about 600 m over the next 2 kilometres, but it's totally worth it. Hike through mixed forest to the first lookout (a short ways off trail to the left).

First lookout - short detour to the left of the trail, Centennial Ridge
First lookout on Centennial Ridge
Return to the main trail and continue to gain elevation. You will leave the trees shortly and be surrounded by meadows that are filled with wildflowers in early July. There's a nice flat area about 3.2 km from the parking lot that makes a nice snack/picnic spot; we call it "second lookout."

Indian paintbrush on Centennial Ridge
Centennial Ridge Trail
Just below the 2nd lookout, Centennial Ridge Trail
2nd Lookout on Centennial Ridge Trail
Heading back into the aspens to descend. Tons of Indian paintbrush!

The trail is well marked with signs and orange diamond-shaped markers above treeline, so no route finding is required. Enjoy the trail and wildflowers!

Centennial Ridge at a Glance 

Distance (one way): 3.2 km to second lookout; 4.3 km to Olympic Summit; 6.8 km to Mount Allen Summit
Elevation Gain: 680 m elevation gain to second lookout; 940 m to Olympic Summit; 1340 m to Mount Allen Summit
Washrooms: Pit toilets at Ribbon Creek parking lot
Stroller Friendly: No

Centennial Ridge Short Version Map
Map Credit: Google Maps
View from the 2nd lookout on Centennial Ridge Trail

Going Further

The bump above the second lookout is a false summit. You will ascend a few bumps before reaching Olympic Summit. Look for larches near the second bump if you're hiking here in late September.

 Centennial Ridge Trail, Kananaskis
Centennial Ridge Trail, Kananaskis

Beyond Olympic Summit is the "rock garden" (about 6 km from the parking lot) - a grouping of large, conglomerate rocks and pinnacles - and summit of Mount Allen.

Know Before You Go

You are in bear country! Carry bear spray, travel in a group, and make noise to alert bears of your presence. For more bear safety tips, please see this story.

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Where to Stay

Ribbon Creek Hostel and Delta Kananaskis Lodge (now Pomfrey Mountain Lodge) are your closest options. 

The nearest campground is Mount Kidd RV Park. There is also great camping in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park about 40 minutes away. For more information, please see my complete Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Camping & Recreation Guide

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