The all-time leading scorer on the Canadian women's hockey team and a four-time Olympic gold medallist spent the last four seasons with the University of Calgary Dinos.
"I look forward to the competition and to playing with, and in some cases against, some of my national teammates," the 36-year-old forward said Tuesday in a statement released by the Inferno.
Wickenheiser underwent season-ending surgery on her foot in February. She did not play in April's women's world championship in Malmo, Sweden, where Canada finished second to the U.S.
The Inferno have been in the CWHL for four of its seven seasons. National team forwards Rebecca Johnston, the CWHL's leading scorer last season, and Haley Irwin also play for the team that finished second in the league in 2014-15 with a 15-9 record.
Wickenheiser's decision to play for the Inferno is a marketing coup for the CWHL that now faces recruiting competition from the U.S.-based NWHL scheduled to start playing this fall.
"Today's announcement is a testament to the success of our league," league commissioner Brenda Andress. "For Hayley to choose the CWHL as the next step in her hockey career reflects the high calibre competition that defines us."
Wickenheiser, from Shaunavon, Sask., has 146 goals and 172 assists in 216 career games for Canada. She's played in 12 world championships for Canada and won gold in seven.
The five-foot-10, 170-pound forward was captain of the team that won gold at the 2010 Winter Olympics. She was an assistant captain in 2014 when she played with a broken bone in her foot in Sochi, Russia.
"Being able to add her to our lineup would give us depth and strength, which would help us to contend for the Clarkson Cup this season," Inferno head coach Scott Reid said. "As a hockey club, we are thrilled to be able to bring her on board at the draft."
Wickenheiser was elected to the International Olympic Committee's athletes commission in Sochi.