As a hiker and lover of the outdoors, I have had the pleasure of exploring the stunning wilderness of Kananaskis, a region located in the Canadian Rockies.
Alberta’s western edge is home to these majestic mountains, making it a popular destination for hiking. While Banff and Jasper are well known, the trails in Kananaskis should not be overlooked.
The area offers some of the most breathtaking hikes in the world, with miles of trails winding through the forests, lakes, and mountains. In this blog post, I will share some of my favorite and best hikes in Kananaskis and what makes them so special.
Tips and Advice for Hiking in Kananaskis
With so many Albertans now taking advantage of the beautiful outdoor trails, it’s important to remember that these trails are seeing much higher levels of traffic. To reduce the number of people you encounter on the trail, it is best to plan your trip for mid-week, early in the morning, or late in the evening. Doing so will help you avoid the busiest times of the day.
You can bring your canine companion on any of the hikes listed, but they must be on a leash at all times. When going on a hike, it is important to check online information for any warnings about bears in the area. During the summer, some hikes may close due to bear activity, so it is important to stay up to date on the current status of a hike before departing.
It is essential to hike on designated trails and dispose of all waste properly. This will ensure the preservation of the wilderness and also protect hikers from potential dangers posed by wildlife.
Visitors to Kananaskis now need to purchase a Kananaskis Conservation Pass. This pass costs $15 for a single day (1 vehicle) or $90 for a full year (2 vehicles) plus GST for each vehicle. You can find more information about the pass and buy it on the website here.
Rawson Lake Trail & Sarrail Ridge
Distance: 11.3 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 3-4 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,066m
Difficulty: Hard (quite steep and vertical climb)
The Rawson Lake Trail is a moderate hike that takes you through the forest, along a river, and finally to a stunning alpine lake. The trail is well-marked, making it easy to follow, and takes around 3-4 hours to complete round-trip.
The lake itself is surrounded by towering mountains and provides a perfect spot for a picnic or a refreshing swim. Be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks for the hike, and keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer and moose.
Getting to Rawson Lake is a relatively easy task, but once you begin your ascent up Sarrail Ridge, you’ll be put to the test. This trek requires trekking poles, good hiking boots, and plenty of endurance, as the terrain can be quite steep and require some scrambling.
However, those who make it to the top will be rewarded with some of the most breathtaking views Kananaskis has to offer.
Galatea Creek Trail
Distance: 16.9 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 870 m
The Galatea Creek Trail is a challenging hike that rewards you with incredible views of the surrounding mountains and the stunning Lillian Lake and Galatea Lakes. To me, it’s one of the best hikes in Kananaskis.
Behold the stunning emerald hues of the lakes and the towering peaks that surround you on your journey – it’s the perfect way to spend the day. What’s more, you can often have sections of the path to yourself, as it’s not as busy as some of the other Kananaskis hikes.
The trail is steep in parts and takes around 6-7 hours to complete round-trip. The lake itself is a popular spot for camping, and there are plenty of opportunities for fishing or simply relaxing and taking in the scenery.
Ptarmigan Cirque Trail
Distance: 4.2 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 2.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 210 m
The Ptarmigan Cirque Trail is a short and easy hike that is perfect for families or those who want a more leisurely hike, making it one of the easiest hikes in Kananaskis.
The trail takes you through alpine meadows and past beautiful waterfalls before reaching the cirque, a natural amphitheater surrounded by towering peaks. The views from the cirque are simply stunning, and you can often spot wildlife such as mountain goats and bighorn sheep.
Oh yeah – there’s even a waterfall to enjoy along the way. If you’re looking for a quick, rewarding hike, look no further than Ptarmigan Cirque.
Troll Falls Hike
Distance: 3.4 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 1-2 hours
Elevation Gain: 150 m
If you’re looking for a quick and easy hike with stunning views, the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis is the perfect choice. It’s great for kids and leashed dogs, and features lush forests, rivers, waterfalls, and other gorgeous backdrops.
The falls themselves make for amazing photos, so make sure to plan enough time to take some awesome shots. This hike is very popular with families, so expect to see some other hikers on the trail.
The path to the frozen falls remains open in winter, providing you have the right equipment such as crampons or snowshoes.
Grizzly Peak Trail
Distance: 6.5 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 3-5 hours
Elevation Gain: 875 m
Difficulty: Moderate to Difficult (quite steep)
The Grizzly Peak Trail is a moderate to challenging hike that is not for the faint of heart. The trail is steep and rocky, and requires a good level of fitness and experience.
You are climbing 875 meters in a 3.2 km trail, so it’s quite a challenge. However, the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
Once at the summit of Grizzly Mountain, you will be rewarded with an extraordinary view of Kananaskis Valley plus Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes in the distance. This hike took me four hours round trip and was perfect for a half-day outing. I recommend using a pair of poles for the steep downhill climb.
Ha Ling Peak Trail
Distance: 7.5 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 4-5 hours
Elevation Gain: 810 m
Taking the Ha Ling Trail from Canmore to the top of Ha Ling Peak is a challenging but rewarding experience. After recent renovations, the trail has more railings and stairs to make it easier to navigate the more difficult sections.
Once you reach the peak, the view of the Kananaskis region is simply breathtaking. It is an unforgettable experience that is worth all the effort. Crampons are essential for winter and trekking poles are highly recommended for navigating the uneven terrain all year round. Additionally, the winds on the trail can be quite strong, so be sure to layer up accordingly.
Elbow Lake Trail
Distance: 2.8 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 1-2 hours
Elevation Gain: 120 m
The Elbow Lake Trail is a moderate hike that takes you through beautiful forests and along the picturesque Elbow River. The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, and takes around 1-2 hours to complete round-trip. The lake itself is a popular spot for fishing and camping, and there are plenty of opportunities for wildlife spotting along the way.
Elbow Lake is also a great spot for a beginner camper or someone who wants to try out some gear. The short, easy hike in Kananaskis to the lake is well-maintained and leads to a stunning location. The Elbow Lake campground is situated near the lake, making it the perfect spot for a night in the outdoors.
East End of Rundle Hike
Distance: 5.6 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 5-6 hours
Elevation Gain: 878 m
The East End of Rundle (EEOR) hike in Canmore is a popular hike located close to Kananaskis. It is a well-liked trail amongst hikers, with many people visiting it during the summertime. The trail features stunning views of the surrounding landscape, and its close proximity to the town makes it an ideal day trip destination.
It takes about 45 minutes to reach the first lookout point of White Man’s Pond, and an additional two to three hours to reach the summit. If reaching the summit isn’t in the cards, there’s a wonderful alpine plateau close to the last stretch of scree worth exploring.
It offers amazing views without the need for too much scrambling, as the last few metres of elevation can be achieved without a lot of effort. It’s definitely one of the must-see attractions for those who are hiking in Canmore.
Grassi Lakes Hike
Distance: 4.3 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 5-6 hours
Elevation Gain: 235 m
The Grassi Lakes Hike has become a popular choice among hikers due to its proximity to Canmore and its stunning scenery. It is a relatively short and easy trail, making it a great choice for those looking for a quick and beautiful hike. The crystal clear emerald waters of the lakes at the end of the trail make it a must-see destination.
On long weekends, the trailhead and connecting roads tend to get quite busy, with many cars parked along the sides. If you’d like to avoid the crowds, it’s best to either visit very early or choose a weekday to go hiking.
This trail is a great choice for a hike regardless of the season. In the summer, you’ll get to enjoy the lush greenery and colorful flowers, while in the winter you’ll get to experience the snowy beauty. Whichever season you choose, you’ll get to admire the stunning views this hike has to offer.
Distance: 11.5 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 6 hours
Elevation Gain: 727 m
Difficulty: Moderate to Hard
Pocaterra Ridge is an incredibly popular hike for its stunning views and its picturesque golden larches in the autumn season. This trail is not a loop, so hikers should arrange transport from either the northern or southern point before starting. Those who take on this trail will be rewarded with a beautiful journey and stunning views.
Finding the northern trailhead can be tricky, so it is best to start from the southern trailhead located at the Highwood Pass parking lot. It is important to arrive early, as the lot can fill up quickly by 8-9 am. To make sure you stay on the right path, it’s a good idea to have an offline map available, as it is sometimes hard to spot trail markers.
Mount Allan Trail
Distance: 16 km roundtrip
Time to Complete: 7-9 hours
Elevation Gain: 1,485 m
Difficulty: Easy (takes a long time)
The Mount Allan Trail is a challenging hike that rewards you with stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The trail is steep and rocky, and requires a good level of fitness and experience. However, the views from the top are absolutely breathtaking, and make the effort well worth it.
Mount Allan is a challenging yet rewarding 15.8 km hike with an elevation gain of 1,485 meters. The trail is well-marked and easy to follow, with a steady incline for most of the hike. Starting from the Centennial Ridge Trailhead, I began a steady but easy climb up into Ribbon Creek and Dead Man’s Flats
The views from the car park to Centennial Ridge are stunning, and it usually takes between 1.5-2 hours to make the trek. For those willing to go the extra mile, the summit of Mount Allan is within reach. The hike is relatively easy until the final push, but the stunning panorama of Kananaskis and Canmore is well worth the effort.
Best Hikes in Kananaskis Conclusion
In conclusion, Kananaskis offers some of the most beautiful and varied hiking experiences in the world. Whether you are an experienced hiker looking for a challenge, or a beginner looking for a leisurely stroll, there is something for everyone in this stunning region.
So grab your hiking boots, pack a lunch, and get ready to explore the great outdoors and make unforgettable memories. Just remember to always respect the environment and leave no trace behind.
**Please note that this post may contain affiliate links. When booking through one of our links, we earn a small kickback at no extra cost to you and it’s a big help to keep the site up and running.