This hike has remained one of my favourites. I hiked the ridge in September of 2018, and I have wanted to go back ever since. I would highly recommend this trail, though it is best if used in the summer months (May to October). The steep ascent to the ridge is difficult without snow or ice, so with these conditions the trail would become another level of challenging. If you are a more experienced hiker, or simply very determined, this hike has an incredible pay off with stunning 360° views of the mountains all around.
Pocaterra Ridge is a 9.8 km point to point hike with 728 m of elevation. Typically you need two cars, so you can shuttle from one parking lot to the other, however you can also do this as an out and back hike after summiting the ridge. There were six of us hiking together, so we had two vehicles.
We parked the first vehicle at Little Highwood Pass parking lot, then shuttled in the other car to Pocaterra Ridge parking lot. We began the hike through the forest, hiking away from the road. Though we gained elevation over this first section of the hike, it was not significant. As we neared the base of the ridge, we stopped to refuel with snacks and water.
As we walked the last of the trail before the big ascent, we came upon a group of bighorn sheep standing on a small hill protruding from the mountainside. They watched us but didn’t move, and we took pictures from the trail, but made sure to give them space so they didn’t feel threatened.
Finally, we came to the base of the ridge. The ascent here was steep, and I found I needed frequent breaks to catch my breath. This was the most strenuous day hike I had done at this point in 2018, as I was still fairly new to the hiking community. The view of the road became more clear the higher we climbed, as did the mountains on either side. While I found this section to be particularly challenging, I pushed through and made it to the top. And I was so glad I did.
As we reached the top of the ridge it felt as if the sky had opened up. The view of the mountains ahead of us seemed endless, as if the extended on forever and we were on top of the world seeing them all. The ridge stretched out in front of us, and the valleys on either side plummeted from the peak of the ridge. For a moment I forgot how to breathe, and this time it wasn’t from exertion.
While the pictures I have are quite lovely, they don’t do justice to the in-person view. Of course the adrenaline of standing in high places doesn’t hurt either!
We had lunch on the summit of the ridge, a few meters passed the ascent to give space to other hikers. After lunch we began the ridge walk, which took much longer than anticipated. We had initially expected to get off the mountain by 5 pm, but we didn’t reach the parking lot until after 7, making our hike around 8 hours long. Luckily we had brought lots of layers and snacks, but we did not have poles. I would highly recommend hiking poles if you have them. They can give extra stability on the steep sections of the ridge walk.
Though we ended the hike hours after we had expected, and utterly exhausted, it was a hike I will never forget. For those concerned about stamina, time or who simply don’t have the option of taking two vehicles, I would recommend doing the hike as an out-and-back route from the Pocaterra Ridge parking lot to the summit and back down. This will give you all the incredible views of the hike, and the main elevation without quite as much distance. The hike would likely take 3-5 hours instead of 6-8. Of course if you are up to the challenge, try the point to point route!
Will you be adding Pocaterra Ridge to your 2022 hiking list?