Stepping outside and soaking up a bit of nature serves a therapeutic purpose that is hard to replicate indoors. You simply can’t deny the sense of accomplishment you feel after coaxing your way across a narrow strip of rock, dangling thousands of feet above the green, stick-filled valley below. Sometimes you’ll need that pause to suck in some courage-infused oxygen, lift that foot forward, and plant it firmly into the ground — especially if you’re in British Columbia, a high-alpine ridge walking paradise that is overflowing with high-altitude peaks. Covered by 75 percent mountain goodness, BC offers plenty of opportunities to get out and explore. Start by tackling one of these seven gnarly ridge walks — they might be just what you need.
1. Heiko’s Trail
Distance: 12.17 miles
Time: Day hike. Allow eight to 10 hours.
Heiko’s Trail in Fernie is a one-way, 13-mile circus act packed with show-stopping waterfalls, high rocky passes, and the aptly named Bisaro Cave, all of which will help you rediscover your youthful spirit. Remember to take your time in this high-alpine environment. Surrounded by big peaks, this trail starts steep from Hartley Lake road, passes through Sound of Music-worthy, flower-filled meadows, and into a grinding descent. You’ll earn a round of high fives and a craft brew at Island Lake Lodge at the bottom.
2. Dogtooth Range from Kicking Horse Mountain Resort
Distance: up to 20 miles round trip
Time: Hikes vary in length from a half hour to a full day.
Let the Gondola at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden provide support and lift you to the rocky ridgeline. Start by skirting peaks and tracing the fine line along the Dogtooth Range. Then begin to climb the steps toward the top of the Stairway to Heaven chairlift, boot up the staircase, and top out on the ridgeline of Blue Heaven. Route-finding skills are a must in this wilderness environment with 10 miles one-way in trails, so this is a place for true crag rats and scree lovers. A Gorman Lake refresh awaits, then bounce back down into the forest before you dream of the peaks in your well-earned sleep.
3. Lake O’Hara All Souls Route in Yoho National Park
Distance: 10 miles
Time: five to seven hours
The Lake O’Hara All Souls Route in Yoho National Park is a nearly 10-mile loop brimming with the elements that matter most for a good trek. Mouthwatering peaks, a jewelry basin of lakes, and the deal clincher: access is controlled, so you can have some alone(ish) time high in the Canadian Rockies. Starting in a high-alpine basin, you climb your way around a magic kingdom of lakes and rocky outcrops, crowning out on the high ridge path hugging Yukness Mountain. This place will throttle you with beauty — it’s absolutely postcard-worthy. Be a pioneer, crawl around, and enjoy this incredible journey.
4. Panorama Ridge
Distance: 18 miles
Time: 11 hours
Located near the popular ski town of Whistler, the Panorama Ridge — 18 miles out and back — is sure to delight those who prefer the mountains come summertime. Get up early and begin in dreamy a green coastal forest, then enjoy a steady climb to breakthrough views of the glacier melt below called Garibaldi Lake. Be engaged, dig deep for this long day, respect it, and we guarantee you’ll be amazed. This one is an out-and-back trip, so you can cut it down if necessary, but the full trek is worth the effort for the views alone.
5. Avalanche Ridge
Distance: 20 miles out and back
Time: 11 hours
North-Central British Columbia’s mammoth beauty is on full display in the Coast Mountains. The area is so jaw-dropping that you’ll be tempted to pinch yourself. Alone, 50 miles from the nearest road, Nuk Tessli is a place where you can hike until your soles wear out. It’s all big peaks and ridges in every direction here. Start with Avalanche Ridge, walk 10 miles to a high rocky point and back, and climb from the forested canopy to meadow-filled basins. Traversing this rock fortress will leave your mind constantly blown as you reflect on your presence as a mere speck in an outdoor castle. Oh, the magical feeling you can have when you immerse yourself in nature’s humbling glory.
6. Abbott Ridge Trail
Distance: 12 miles out and back
Time: five to seven hours
Listen to yourself as you slog through the forest and appreciate every step. Your journey will be rewarded with big views of Abbott Ridge Trail in Glacier National Park. This six-mile journey to a high rocky land is one of the most stunning places to hang out. That old saying, “work hard and prosper,” feels appropriate as you drip with sweat, but these good times will gain you magnificent views and an all-time place for a picnic and peaks.