After a moderate to easy hike the day before we were ready for something bigger, longer, harder. We asked around the night before looking for hike recommendations. A couple of campers recommended Windy Ridge as a full day moderately difficult hike (11+ miles). Thankfully waking up the second day we were rewarded with a major shift in the winds blowing the smoke away from camp. We quickly had breakfast and headed out trying to reach Windy Ridge before any sudden change in the wind blew the smoke back in our direction.
From our Lake Magog campground we headed towards Assiniboine Lodge for morning views of the lake and the mountains and we were rewarded with largely smoke free view of Lake Magog. Just before the reaching the lodge you make a left turn (north) towards Og Mountain. You quickly reach a saddle and gently drop into a large long meadow. The meadow was extremely dry with hard packed dirt that made for quick progress. I think it had been an unusually dry spring and summer and many seasonal streams had long since dried up. We made sure to refill water during this long stretch when we encountered water.
After crossing the meadow there is a short but steep climb with trees to reach the cutoff for Og Pass. From here begins a long steep climb to Windy Ridge. Initially the switchbacks are well graded and grassy. There is a fake summit which is really a saddle, we were fooled into thinking that this was the “ridge”. From the false ridge the hike quickly turns rocky and steep. There were a few awkward off camber sections that were snow/ice covered. Mostly it was just a long huff and puff up to Windy Ridge. In retrospect we should have eaten lunch before and by the time we reached the top both of us had a mild headache from the altitude and hunger. Just as you reach the ridge the wind picked up and lived up to its “Windy Ridge” name.
The top of the pass rewards you with outstanding views to the east. There is a viewpoint for those willing to venture a bit further out to the edge. The viewpoint is not for those with fear of heights as there is a 1000 foot drop on all sides.Between the howling gusts of wind we were able to snap some beautiful photos. We were supremely lucky that the winds kept the smoke at bay. The smoke in the distance was getting worse and the winds had shifted to blow in our direction.
We made a hasty retreat back to the false summit and had a delicious lunch, enjoying the wildflowers spread throughout the area.
During the hike back we made a pitstop at the Lodge for more tea and cake. It was such a luxury to have tea and cake every afternoon while we there. We chatted with a few other hikers for an hour or so before the short walk back to camp. If you’re camping at Lake Magog and want a longer hike this was definitely a great one!
Distance: 11.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 2000 feet