21 Remarkable Kananaskis Hikes Too Stunning to Be Real

We had a fantastic summer hiking all over Kananaskis. Every day we could we would get out from our home in Canmore and explore. So many beautiful memories were made around Kananaskis.

I want to share with you our favorite Kananaskis hikes from this summer, and will continue to update this list year after year as we get out more. Here are the best hikes around Canmore and Kananaskis in no particular order.

The Best Kananaskis Hikes You Will Enjoy

1.) Mount Smutwood

Mount Smutwood is easily one of the best Kananaskis hikes. The views almost the entire way are absolutely stunning and it’s doesn’t truly get difficult until the end.

This hike is best done with a group as you are in grizzly country and in trees for the beginning (and end of the hike). Although we didn’t see our grizzly friend until we reached the saddle. We kept our distance and he went on his way.

The first hour or so of this Kananaskis hike is straightforward with no elevation gain. You’ll pass a cool waterfall and once you get into the alpine meadow the views are amazing. Don’t mind the whistling marmots. Your first taste of steepness is going into Smuts Pass, where it’s relentless for 2 km or so but then lightens up again as you first lay your eyes on Mount Birdwood.

There were many groups hiking here when we went but all of them stopped at the saddle and enjoyed the lakes. The route from the saddle up to the summit of Mount Smutwood looks long and steep, but it’s easier and shorter than it looks.

Continue on pass Birdwood and around the two lakes to your right. Here’s where your ascent truly begins. You have about 45 minutes to one hour to go. The view from the false summit is great of Birdwood, but continue on to the true summit for 360 views. This is where the route gets a bit scrambly and slightly expose. A fall here certainly wouldn’t be good, but it’s not certain death (that’s next door on Mount Smuts).

Keep pushing for the summit and enjoy the views. Descend the same way you came. Smutwood Peak took our group seven hours with a 45 minute summit break. It’s one I would easily do again! Read the full report here.

  • Length: 17.9km (11.1 miles)
  • Duration: 5 – 9 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 961m
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, mainly towards the summit.
  • Scrambling Involved: Mild scrambling at the very end towards the summit.
  • Best Time To Go: June – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Just Past Mt Engadine Lodge along Mt. Shark Rd.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Lunch, Layers, hiking poles, Trail Runners

2.) Ha Ling Peak

One of the best hikes in Kananaskis needs no introduction to people in Alberta. Ha Ling Peak is easily the most popular hike in the Canadian Rockies, along with EEOR and Grassi Lakes. Hiking it is like a right of passage into the Rockies, and every weekend visitors come from all over Alberta to conquer Ha Ling.

Ha Ling’s popularity does not mean it is easy or shouldn’t be taken seriously though. It’s still a peak in the Rockies, meaning there’s gonna be some effort involved in getting to the top.

At the end of 2019 Alberta Parks unveiled a new trail that was a significant upgrade with even grading, switchbacks, steps, and handrails in certain locations as the old one was falling apart due to overuse.

The improvement has increased the safety of the trail, but make no mistake it’s still a tough physical challenge for many. Once you enter the trailhead and make your way through the forest it’s a constant uphill climb to the summit. It’s probably best to pace yourself on the entirety of the hike.

  • Length: 7.9 km
  • Duration: 2- 5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 804 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate – Difficult

  • Scrambling Involved: Not really
  • Best Time To Hike: Possible year-round, but attention must be paid to avalanche cycles in winter/spring.
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Goat Creek Day Area

3.) Tent Ridge

Tent Horseshoe Ridge is one of my favorite Kananaskis hikes in all of Alberta, it’s easily one of the best Kananaskis hikes – just look at the photos! Just an hour’s drive from Canmore in the Spray Valley is this beautiful loop trail. It’s the perfect hike with amazing views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. In summer you’ll find wildflowers and bird watching. If you’re looking for a quick, but moderately difficult hike Tent Ridge is a must do. Let’s dig in with all the details.

Tent Ridge Horseshoe is a 10-kilometer loop trail. We are reasonably fit but by no means the fastest hikers in Canmore. This trail took us about 5 hours, with LOTS of photo stops and a lunch break near the satellite tower. If we weren’t taking any photos or video (or waiting around for the sun to get lower for sunset photography), we should have been able to do this loop hike in four hours.

Although AllTrails rates this as hard, I would put it slightly above moderate. There are a few steep pitches that will have you panting, but I believe the real reason it’s rated as hard is because of the scramble up (or down depending on which way you go), from the ridge. I saw all ages of life on this trail, the scramble was slightly exposed in two sections, but not too sketchy.

This trail would be best between April and October, though I’ve seen photos in the winter and the images are gorgeous. Just make sure you have gaiters, crampons, and poles if you decide to do a winter hike.

We hiked this trail on Canada Day weekend (July 1st). There were a few spots with slushy snow, but for the most part, it was a dry trail. It’s still the mountains though, and the weather changes rapidly. When we started this hike, it was a bright sunny day. When we reached the top of the ridge it was snowing, and the wind was howling, no views at all, then we waited over the Spray lakes and the beautiful sun showed it’s face again. See our full write up here.

  • Length: 10.6km (6.6 miles)
  • Duration: 4 – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 750m (2460ft)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Scrambling Involved: Two short sections. Do this loop clockwise so you are scrambling up these sections instead of down.
  • Best Time To Go: April – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: There’s trail parking across the street from one of the trailheads. From the parking area go LEFT to start this hike clockwise.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles

4.) Carnarvon Lake

Carnarvon Lake has been making the rounds on social media as one of the best hikes in the Rockies. It’s technically outside of Kananaskis on Crown Land at the foothills, meaning you can wild camp here if you want.

To reach Carnarvon Lake it’s gonna take you 10km of hiking and over 800 meters of elevation gain. There are little views and until about the 8km section, it’s extremely boring. We knew this going in, so we decided to take out mountain bikes till we could no future. We stashed them in the trees around the 8km mark and only hiked 2km. Which made for a quick day and a much more thrilling time back to the trailhead. I highly recommend this option if you have a mountain bike and feel comfortable crossing a river with it (Tevas helped). You see the photos above for an accurate picture of what the crossing looks like. I’m 5’2″ and the water came up to my butt in August.

Around 8km the hiking opens up to beautiful views and is a pretty steady climb on a scree trail. Follow the trail until you reach the waterfall. This is where your scrambling begins, thankfully there are chains to assist you, though if you are a confident scrambler they aren’t 100% needed, but were surely appreciated.

After a few large steps over large rocks, you’ll notice a chain to the right of the waterfall, and it’s a beautiful and thrilling time. I found the chain section to be easy, but if you are a new scrambler or scared of heights this may be difficult for you.

Once you are past the chains you only have 50 meters or so until you’ll lay your eyes on Carnarvon Lake for the first time. Once you reach it try your best to stay calm as the views are even better when you reach the end of the lake. Continue along the shoreline for 400 meters until you reach the bright blue Caribbean water. It’s here you can find a camping spot if you plan to camp. For amazing views walk past the campers and up the trail about 50 more meters, that’s where you’ll really see the difference in the water color on this Kananaskis hike.

  • Length: 20.4km
  • Duration: 4 – 9 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 857 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate because of length and creek crossing and chain section.

  • Scrambling Involved? Easy scrambling with chain assistance.
  • Best Time To Go: July – September
  • Parking: Cat Creek Day Use Parking

5.) Piper Pass

At 20km, Piper Pass makes for a longer day, but it has less than 1000 meters of gain which makes it breezier than other Kananaksis hikes. Piper Pass is great for trail runners in the summer. Once you pass the crowds at Elbow Lake it’s unlikely you’ll see many more people. We never saw anyone else on the trail on a beautiful summer day in July.

To begin this Kananaskis hike you’ll start at the Elbow Lake trail. The trail up to Elbow Lake is a popular one as it’s family-friendly and a pretty nice place to get introduced to camping. Continue on for about 5 km until you’ll see a small trail heading into the woods on your left. This is very easy to miss, so download the Alltrails map and pay attention.

There’s an overgrown trail here, where you will have to cross a few creeks. It will probably have you wondering if you’re on the right trail. You are. Continue on until you find yourself on a narrow trail in the forest, there’s a few pieces of orange tape to guide you but they can be easy to miss.

You’ll eventually get spit out into a big beautiful valley next to Mount Elpoca on your left and Tombstone Mountain and Mount Schlee right in front of you. Continue on through the valley gaining bits of elevation over a long distance. At around 9.5 km you’ll see where all your elevation gain is. Because up until now, it’s been pretty simple and effortless (besides the distance). Continue up a scree slop gaining 300 meters relatively quickly. However, once you’re at the top you will have spectacular views over the valley you just crossed through. Seriously, it looks like you’re in Switzerland here!

  • Length: 20.4km
  • Duration: 4 – 7 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 994 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate because of length

  • Scrambling Involved? No
  • Best Time To Go: July – September
  • Parking: Elbow Lake Trailhead

6.) Pocaterra Ridge

Pocaterra Ridge is one of the most popular Kananaskis hikes on this list. Mainly because it’s one of the best larch hikes in all of the Canadian Rockies. This area has so many larch trees it’s hard to believe. Located near Highwood Pass in Kananaskis, Pocaterra Ridge is home to tons of larches (just see the photos above). When the needles start to turn yellow this is one of the first places you should head. Although if you can try and avoid weekends – it’s a busy one!

Pocaterra Ridge is typically done as a point-to-point hike, so if you have two cars I would definitely try to do it this way. If you only have one car you can still do it as an out and back hike, called South Pocaterra Ridge, and get amazing views, especially during larch season. The turn around for it would be at the summit of Pocaterra Ridge. The out and back would put your day at 9.3 km and 745 meters of gain.

To do this you follow the trail network until you reach the open valley. Make sure to stay on the trail though, scores of people going off-trail have caused this trail to become extremely braided and confusing to navigate.

Once it opens up you can continue along Pocaterra Cirque which only takes you 430 m up and is easier than trying to summit the ridgeline. Once you reach the summit of the ridge which is about 600 meters up, you can either keep walking the ridge with some easy scrambling or head back down!

  • Distance: 11.4km
  • Duration: 4 to 7 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 764 meters if doing point to point
  • Difficulty: Moderate.

  • Scrambling Involved: Scramble optional
  • Best Time To Go: Larch Season
  • Trailhead: Near the Highwood Meadows Trail

7.) Rimwall Summit

Kananaskis hike

Rimwall Summit a great early season hike in Kananaskis that provides breathtaking views. There is some easy scrambling involved, and it definitely requires some navigation skills around West Wind Pass.

It can be easy to get turned around when heading up Rimwall. It’s best to download a map to your GPS and study reviews, but basically take a left well before West Wind Pass. If you get cliffed out, you’ve made a mistake. You will know you are on the right trail when there is a huge scree slope in front of you that feels neverending. It’s steep and unforgiving. I would bring a helmet and gloves, especially on the weekend – this one can get busy.

Once you climb up most of the scree you’ll think you have made it to the top, but you haven’t. You need to continue along the ridge and hike to your left to the top of Rimwall. Don’t get too close to the edge – it’s a straight cliff. As you near the summit around 2.8 km there will be some light scrambling involved over cliffs. Don’t try and work your way around it, just take it slow and ask for help from a partner if you need some foot placements. Don’t worry, you’ll soon reach the summit and see over the whole Spray Valley and get great views of the back of the Three Sisters as well.

  • Distance: 6.3 km
  • Duration: 3 to 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 891
  • Difficulty: Hard. Very Steep

  • Scrambling Involved: Easy Scrambling
  • Best Time To Go: June – October
  • Trailhead: Trailhead for West Wind Pass

8.) Prairie View Lookout + Yates Mountain

Barrier Lake in Kananaskis Country is one of the most popular spots to head in the entire park. It’s beautiful for one and it’s easy, but you can reach it in less than an hour from Calgary, as it’s located right after the entrance to Kananaskis. Visitors can choose to either enjoy the lakeshore, or go for a moderate hike to the Prairie View lookout point, head up Jewell Pass via the Prairie View trail, or continue up to Yates Mountain and check out the Barrier Lake Fire Lookout. There’s a lot of options here!

Hiking up Prairie View Trail is one of the most visually rewarding Kananaskis hikes relative to effort I’ve done. It’s a smooth well-maintained trail the entire way, with stunning views over Barrier Lake. At just under an hour up, it can quickly be done at sunrise or sunset as well. It’s also good to go all year round – even in the winter.

After parking near Barrier Lake follow the AllTrails Map past the sign for Barrier Lake. Barrier Lake will be on your left as you continue along the closed off road. After .8 km, you’ll head into the trees, and at about 1.3 km, you’ll start gaining gradual elevation. The trail up to the lookout point is pretty boring. There are no sites and viewpoints, but it’s fast and easy, so it goes by quickly. At about 4 km, you’ll find yourself in the clearing and start getting views. Take some photos and keep moving – you’re almost to the viewpoint which is about at 5.4 km. The trail will break left or right, with a sign saying it is not maintained any further if you take a right.

Take a left for the viewpoint, you’ll find a large slab, likely with some other hikers on it. Enjoy for a bit – the view is terrific, and you didn’t have to work too hard to get it! If you want to actually summit a mountain today (and you should!) backtrack to the trail divide and go past the sign that says it’s not maintained. The trail technically isn’t maintained – but don’t worry, it’s still easy, just slightly steeper and rockier to the summit of Yates Mountain and the Barrier Lake Fire Lookout. You have about 10-15 more minutes until you hit the peak.

  • Length: 13.8 km for Full Loop, Can be shortened
  • Duration: 2-4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 756 m (+130 more to summit Yates Mountain)
  • Difficulty: Easy – Moderate

  • Best Time To Go: Good Year Round. Best from late April-late October
  • Parking: Barrier Lake
  • Crowds: The ease of this hike, and that it’s a great earlier seasoner keeps it pretty busy

9.) Mist Mountain

Mist Mountain is one of the tallest mountains in Kananaskis at 3140 meters. Scrambling up it offers a significant objective without any technical mountain climbing. Most people head to Mist Mountain only for the hot springs, which is a short hike through a valley. Be forewarned though that the Mist Mountain Springs can get insanely busy in the summer, and you’ll have to be here at sunrise to avoid crowds. There’s only enough space for 4-5 people in the hot springs at once, and quite honestly, they are more like lukewarm springs. Still, the views are stunning and the photos are perfection.

However, for a hard day and sense of accomplishment set your goals on actually summiting Mist Mountain. There are several routes up to the peak of Mist Mountain with many varying degrees of difficulty. The most straightforward and enjoyable ascent is via the south face and east ridge. This was our choice and we enjoyed it immensily. Read the full trip report linked below for full details.

  • Length: 9.8km
  • Duration: 4 – 7 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,265 meters

  • Scrambling Involved? Yes
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Best Time To Go: July – September
  • Parking: Mist Mountain Trailhead

10.) Mount Indefatigable

Indefatigable is a great short hike in Kananaskis and provides unreal views over upper and lower Kananaskis. To start on this trail you do have to walk past a big sign stating that this is Grizzly territory. Alberta Parks decommissioned this trail in 2005 due to grizzly habitat, but it is not a closed trail, it is a voluntary closed trail. It’s up to you whether you want to continue on, but it’s best to go with a group and be bear safe. (We did not see any grizzlies when we hiked this, but a group in passing did).

You’ll be going uphill from the start of the trailhead. This never lightens up and it’s a steep climb pretty much the entire way to the summit.

If you’re feeling lazy you can stop at the viewpoint about 25 minutes in as it’s simply stunning and turn around there. To reach the south peak summit continue on the trail. You’ll soon reach a steep scree section, and will be using your hands for a bit, but it’s not too bad and you’re never exposed. A fall here would be some bruises and scratches.

From the south peak summit the views are out of this world. If you stop here and turn around your hike will be about 4-5 hours. If you’re feeling ballsy you can continue on to the exposed section and scramble the ridge summit to the true Mount Indefatigable summit, but this traverse should be left to experienced scramblers only.

  • Length: 7.2km
  • Duration: 4 – 6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 979m
  • Difficulty: Moderately Hard, especially if you go for the full traverse
  • Scrambling Involved: Towards the top you’ll be using your hands
  • Best Time To Go: May – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: There’s trail parking at Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles for the descent, gloves, bear spray

11.) East End of Rundle (EEOR)

East End of Rundle is easily one of the most popular hikes in all of Kananaskis, and is a classid for visitors and locals alike. It’s also the best effort vs reward in all of the regions with breathtaking views of Spray Valley and Ha Ling Peak in a very short amount of time. Given it’s proximity to downtown Canmore, and relative ease it sees heavy foot traffic. It’s a beautiful hike up that provides visitors with astonishing views over Canmore, the Bow Valley, and Ha Ling Peak.

Although, just because East End of Rundle (or EEOR, or “Eeyore” as locals like to call it) is close to town doesn’t mean it’s an easy climb up to the summit.

The hike up East End of Rundle starts at Whiteman’s Pond dam at the top of Canmore Hill. There are two parking areas, but the latter from Canmore is the best for access to EEOR. The trail starts right between two flagged power poles you can see in the photo below.

The trail is a bit of a mixed bag through the ascent as it makes several switchbacks, changes in trail material, before several rocky sections that may require a handhold or two. It’s nothing difficult and any hiker should be able to handle the terrain, but it is steep. It’s is fairly easy to follow with the small pieces of tape, painted rocks, and cairns leading the way to the peak.

On the way up you begin to see views down Spray Valley to the East, Ha Ling Peak, and Mount Lawrence Grassi. With this in mind, there are a ton of off shots and goat trails from the main trail that leads to various viewpoints.

The hike up comes out of the first section of treeline to a small ridge. This section has some route finding and small portions of scree. It’s not too difficult and the most advanced section comes on a large rock slab that can be bypassed by heading to the left.

Once you get above the final bit treeline you’ll find a steep wide open scree section waiting for you. Once you make it past the scree (hiking poles helped me!) you’ll find two paths leading up to the summit.

We took the one to the left which seemed to be the easier trail up. Once you get to the rockband you’ll want to put your gloves on (and helmet if you have one) as you’ll be walking along the cliff for about five minutes using your hands and careful footing. The helmet is more necessary on a busy day as it would it’s easy for clumsy hiking groups above to dislodge rocks.

After this scramble, you’ve reached the summit and get to enjoy the views over Canmore! The view was particularly exciting for us as we could see our home way down below.

If you don’t want to tackle the entire hike, many parties stop about an hour up which still provides great views over Ha Ling. Read the full blog post here.

  • Length: 5.8km
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 870m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Scrambling Involved: Towards the top you’ll be using your hands. Gloves will come in handy.
  • Best Time To Go: April – November
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Whiteman’s Pond dam. You can’t miss the cars.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles for the scree descent, gloves, bear spray

12.) Read’s Tower

Another rewarding and short hike on this list is Reads Tower. This one is perfect for those that want fantastic views over Spray Lakes but don’t want to put in a whole days worth of effort to get up. This is only a four hour round trip hike, but you do have the option to keep going past to scamble Mount Sparrowhawk for a more complete day.

The first hour or so of Read’s Tower winds through the forest. Get used to going uphill as it never really lets up once you start. Fight the rock slide and slabs uphill until it opens up. From there you’ll get a great view of both Mount Sparrowhawk and Reads Tower. Now is your choice of what kind of length and time you want to be on the trail.

If you choose Read’s Tower you have about a 45 minute to hour scree climb to the summit. Going up the treadmill scree is brutal, but the scree run down is super fun and quick!

Read’s Tower is a very rewarding hike for such low exposure and minimal scrambling effort.

  • Length: 6.8km
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 855m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: April – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Across the street from the trailhead. Parking for Sparrowhawk.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles for the scree descent, hiking boots to protect ankles against scree, bear spray

13.) Windtower

Right before you reach the parking for Read’s Tower you have the option to try another Kananaskis hike – Wind Tower! Wind Tower provides that of similar views over the Spray Lakes Reservoir that Read’s Tower does, with about the same amount of effort.

We completed this hike in four hours on a fantastic summer day and were rewarded with an epic sunset from the peak.

To hike Wind Tower you’ll want to start across the street alongside the roud. You’ll hike in the treeline for the first 45 minutes or so until you reach West Wind Pass. If you want a nice, short, moderate hike – stop here and enjoy the views. To conquer Wind Tower you have at least an hour and some change more of light scrambling and moderate incline to go.

Once you reach the summit of Wind Tower enjoy the views over Canmore to one end and the Spray Lakes to the other. From here you can get great views of Mount Lougheed. Just watch your step – it’s a straight drop off up here! Return the same way you came. Read the full blog post here.

  • Length: 9.8km
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 898m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: April – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Look for West Wind Pass signs along the Smith Dorrien
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles for the descent, bear spray

14.) Grizzly Peak

Grizzly Peak is an uphill grind all the way up. Not just a moderate uphill grind either, but a steep and loose uphill battle. You are gaining 875 meters in 5.6 km afterall. If it weren’t for the epic views at the summit I wouldn’t be recommending this one as the trail is in very poor condition.

However, once at the peak of Grizzly you can see endlessly over Kananaskis Valley and even Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes.

This hike took us four hours round trip and was perfect for a half day, regardless of the leg burn. Gloves were definitely helpful as there is light scrambling involved. Poles are ideal for the steep downhill climb.

  • Length: 5.6km
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 875m
  • Difficulty: Hard because of the nonstop uphill
  • Scrambling Involved: Scrambling route optional
  • Best Time To Go: May- October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: There is no designated parking area for this. Instead park on the side of the road near Ripple Rock Creek.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking poles for the scree descent, Trail Runners or Hiking Boots

15.) Opal Ridge

Before you reach the parking point for Grizzly Peak (Coming from Calgary/Canmore) you’ll come across the Fortress petrol station stop. Park here to tackle Opal Ridge. You can’t miss the trailhead by the picnic tables. After parking you’ll mosy along the powerlines for a few hundred meters before the work up begins. The trail goes through the treeline until you break past it for magnificent views. Here’s where the work REALLY begins. The trail is pretty easy to follow, but it’s easy to get off it and have a “choose your own adventure” kind of day and find your own way up the mountains.

Opal Ridge South Summit is a really fun half day hike that provides a hiking trail, but also many optional scramble sections should you want to challenge yourself. There’s nothing death-defying about this scrambling and it was great for beginners.

Like Grizzly, it’s a pretty steep climb but the views from the summit are amazing.

This hike took us four hours round trip, but for a more challenging day you can take on all of Opal Ridge. There’s plenty of opportunity for an extended summit. Once you reach the south summit you can traverse back to where you reached the ridge and go left, to check out the North view just a couple hundred meters up (scrambling involved).

  • Length: 6.4km
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,026 m
  • Difficulty: Hard if you choose mainly scramble route
  • Scrambling Involved: Scrambling route optional
  • Best Time To Go: May- October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Park at the Fortress petrol station.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, hiking pole, Trail Runners or Hiking Boots

16.) Mount Allan

When the weather for a hike we wanted to do in Banff National Park turned out to be poor and the sun was shining in Kananaskis we turned around. We made the quick decision to summit Mount Allan, a popular hike in Kananaskis, but a long day with significant elevation gain.

With a distance of 15.8 km and an elevation gain of 1,485 meters Mount Allan is no short hike. Though it is a great day out with a beautiful summit and no scrambling or anything technical involved. It’s a steady incline for most the well worn and marked path, making it a great hike for anyone.

Mount Allan via Centennial Ridge links Ribbon Creek and Dead Man’s Flats. For a super long day and those with two cars you can do the entire traverse. We only had one car and decided to start our journey at Centennial Ridge trailhead where we had a steady but easy incline up into the valley. The views start here and never end. From the car park to Centennial Ridge is about 1.5-2 hours. Most people stop when the reach the ridge, but it’s worth it to keep pushing and go for the summit of Mount Allan. It’s easy, until the final push, and well worth the views across all of Kananaskis and Canmore.

Past the ridge, it’s another 1.5 hours to the true summit. Along the way you’ll see huge pinnacles that look unworldly, these features make this hike one for the books alone. From here you can keep going on to Dead Man’s Flats or turn around for an easy and enjoyable hike down. The summit of Mount Allan sits at 2819 meters, making it the highest maintained trail in the Rockies, and it is very well maintained! Read the full blog post here.

  • Length: 15.8km
  • Duration: 6-9 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,485 m
  • Difficulty: Easy, but long
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: June – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Centennial Ridge trailhead near Nakiska.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners or Hiking Boots

17.) Wasootch Ridge

Wasootch Ridge is a favorite near Canmore and one of those classic Kananaskis hikes. The trail is straight forward to follow and gains quick elevation then travels along a ridge that delivers spectacular views for hours. The roadway slowly evaporates from view on the ridge before a challenging scramble to the true peak.

The scramble can be avoided, and the trail is plenty wide enough for the first 5km with no exposure. The result is a dog/kid-friendly hike that doesn’t need to be completed to enjoy as the views are great early on the trail.

Wasootch Ridge starts off hard at the beginning with a leg burning climb right out of the parking lot. The parking lot is a little confusing as there are several trails through the woods leading up the ridge along with a path along the creek. Head up through the woods near the beginning of the parking area in a southeast direction. The trail through the woods is not technical with plenty of traction on dirt. Once you come out of the forest which takes twenty to thirty minutes, depends on your fitness, you’ll be treated to some fantastic views of Barrier Lake to the North and Nakiska to the South.

The hike then continues along the ridge for several kilometers where you’ll climb up and down a series of five peaks. Towards the final and tallest peak the ridge turns into a scramble. The scramble is difficult with several moves that are high exposure. Its first technical move may be the most exposed with a rock less than a meter wide and a tall rock wall on either side. This section of the trail should only be attempted by advanced hikers/scramblers or at least people of strong fitness. The vast majority of hikers either turn around before this point or at the beginning of the scramble.

 In hindsight, I’ve researched that it is possible to avoid the scramble by descending the ridge on the and traversing before ascending for the peak again. From here it’s only the halfway point as you turn around and make your way back to the parking lot along the same trail. It is possible to descend the backside of the peak for a circuit, but the descent involves bushwacking and loose scree. Past reviews discourage this route as it’s dangerous, a pain, and then ends with a long walk out Wasootch Creek.

The trail is 15.4 km in length and has an elevation gain of 850 meters. You should expect a long hike if you finish at the peak. We spent around seven hours on the tail and took time for photos and lunch with no rush to finish. It’s a stunning hike and the perfect place to unwind in nature. Read the full report here.

  • Length: 15.4km
  • Duration: 6-10 hours. Depends on where you want to stop.
  • Elevation Gain: 1,451m
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Hard if you choose the scramble.
  • Scrambling Involved: Scramble optional
  • Best Time To Go: May – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Parking area for Wasootch Creek Trail and Porcupine Trail.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners or Hiking Boots

18.) Porcupine Ridge

Literally right across the valley from Wasootch Ridge is Porcupine Ridge. It’s a very similar Kananaskis hike to Wasootch Ridge. It starts off steep in the beginning and as you get on the ridge you walk the ridge for most of the way until the summer, with stunning views the entire time.

The main difference here is the beginning. Instead of starting straight off like Wasootch, you must navigate your way along Porcupine Creek, crossing a few times before you start to ascend towards the ridge. After about 1km in the creek bed you’ll see a trail in the treeline.

The ascent is fairly easy to the ridge. Once to the ridge you can stop and enjoy the views, we saw many parties doing this. However, I highly recommend continuing on to the true summit (we didn’t see anyone else doing this). The views get better and better and the crowds clear out.

If you choose to push on there is a very short easy scramble section to navigate before getting to the end which is marked by a cairn.

  • Length: 9 km
  • Duration: 2-4 hours. Depends on where you want to stop.
  • Elevation Gain: 764m
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

  • Scrambling Involved: Scramble optional
  • Best Time To Go: May – October
  • Parking: There’s a parking area near the road at Porcupine Creek

19.) Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake

Sarrail Ridge

Rawson Lake is a beautiful glacier lake suitable for a wide range of abilities and when combined with Sarrail Ridge it makes for a quick classic hike in the Canadian Rockies. It’s one of the easier Kananaskis hikes on this list as well. The views in particular from Sarrail Ridge are stunning, but you’ll have to put in plenty of work.

The hike starts at the Upper Kananaskis Day Use Parking lot. From there you walk through a wooded trail along the lake, catching glimpses of the stunning water and nearby Mount Indefatigable. For the first major site come soon as you cross a bridge over one of the better waterfalls in the region. Not long after the waterfall you depart from the loop around Upper Kananaskis Lake and head for Rawson lake.

For the less adventurous the hike up to Rawson lake is a great beginner hike in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It’s about a 300 meter elevation gain and can be done early or late season. It skirts around Lower Kananaskis Lake and crosses a waterfall before ascending 300m to the enchanting Rawson Lake. If the bugs aren’t bad it’s the perfect spot to enjoy lunch before heading back down. Stop here at Rawson for an easy and enjoyable hike. To get the views in the photos above you’re going to have to continue on and work for them.

If you’re continuing up to Sarrail Ridge the trail winds around the Lake to the Southeast before climbing the ridge to the Northeast. The ridge climb is a bit of a slog and goes straight up avalanche shoot and prime grizzly bear habitat. A switchback trail would be nice, but unfortunately it’s just straight up. It’s a steep section and a pole is highly recommended. We climbed late in the afternoon and saw multiple tracks from ill-prepared hikers sliding down the trail. It’s not quite a scramble, but those not sure-footed may find themselves on their hands at a few sections as it is very steep.

At the top of the path, you reach the ridge which provides unreal views. Once you reach the top of the pass you can look out over Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes and Mount Indefatigable. We spent over an hour on the ridge exploring, taking photos, and enjoying the view. Watch out for the ground squirrels – it’s here that we left our hiking poles unattended and they started to eat away at the handle grip.

Rawson lake took us just under 45 minutes from the car park and continuing on to Sarrail Ridge took another hour. That was at a pretty good pace with some miles under our legs. All together this hike can be done in 4-5 hours round trip. See full blog post about Sarrail Ridge here.

  • Length: 11.3km
  • Duration: 3.5-6 hours to Sarrail Ridge 2 hours to Rawson Lake
  • Elevation Gain: 1,066m
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: May – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Upper Kananaskis Day Use Parking lot
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners, Bear Spray, Hiking Poles
  • Note: This trail is frequently closed due to bear activity. Make sure to check with Alberta Parks before driving out here.

20.) Burstall Pass

Burstall Pass is a classic hike in Kananaskis Country and off Smith Dorrien Trail. The hike moves past several marshy lakes and streams, before a steep ascent up to an alpine meadow, and then finished on a high mountain pass with grand glaciated mountain views. We loved our time in Burstall pass and spent the majority of our time alone in the woods. It’s a long one at 16km and a little redundant since it’s an out and back trail, but it has everything you could want out of Canadian hike.

Burstall Trail starts out from Smith Dorrien Trail with a large parking lot that serves the trail and stunning Mud Lake. The hike starts out along Mud Lake before heading along an old road for 2.7 kilometers which can be used by bicycles. As you move along the trail be sure to keep an eye out for the trails down to the three Burstall Lakes. All of them are breathtaking and offered some of the best views on the hike until reaching the pass at the end.

From there the trail continues along through the forest and valley. It’s a prime spot for birders and we stopped multiple times to listen to their calls. When you reach the end of the first forest section you come to the alluvial fan of the Robertson Glacier.

Come prepared for some smart route finding and waterproof shoes, or perhaps some hiking sandals. The fan spreads across the trail with multiple streams and flooded sections. It wasn’t difficult, but it does take some time making it across the streams about 500m in length. There are some helpful signs marking the trail for hikers to follow across the plain. However, we used them as a reference to find the ideal route to remain dry.

After you make your way across the flooded sections of trails you reach more forest. This is where the trail begins to ascend to an alpine meadow. It’s a pretty steep climb, but easy enough for most people to handle without too much of a struggle. From there it takes around a half hour to reach a sub-alpine meadow filled with wildflowers. Read the full details here.

  • Length: 16.4km
  • Duration: 4-6 hours.
  • Elevation Gain: 667m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: May – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Parking along the Smith Dorrien near Mud Luke.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners, Bear Spray

21.) Grassi Lakes

The Grassi Lake hike is the perfect Kananaskis hike for friends and families. It’s an easy trail with a wide path that leads through the forest up to two sparkling turquoise lakes. If you’re looking for a good hike in the Canmore/Banff area that is child-friendly this is a great choice. 

This hike is a highlight in the area as the well-trodden and wide trail is manageable for any skill level of hiker. The two sparkling lakes nestled below Ha Ling Peak and the east end of Mount Rundle are a wonderful sight to be seen by all visitors. Grassi Lakes are two sparkling teal alpine lakes with two the areas most famed peaks towering above. On the way up to the two shallow lakes, there are a few viewpoints that offer wonderful panoramic views of the town of Canmore down below.

This is where we take any visitor who want a short and very easy hike to beautiful lakes. There are two options to see Grassi Lakes – a hard hike and easier hike. Take the hard one, it’s not bad. Compared to any other hike on this list Grassi Lakes (hard or easy) is a walk in the park.

For the more adventurous and local’s, there are are a number of rock faces popular for rock climbing. Routes are pretty easy to find with a large number of bolts in place. 

The trailhead begins on Spray Lakes Road around 2kms past the Canmore Nordic Center. You’ll see a small sign that says “No Exit” on the left and gravel parking lot on the right. Drive down the hill to the parking area and sign for the Grassi Lakes Trail. I’ve dropped the GPS coordinates where you need to take a left coming from Canmore.  See the full write up here.

  • Length: 4km
  • Duration: 1-3 hours.
  • Elevation Gain: 233m
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Go: Year Round
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: At the Grassi Lakes Trailhead. Past the Nordic Center off of Ken Ritchie Way
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners, Bear Spray

Helpful Hiking Websites to Help in Kananaskis

Kananaskis Hikes

All Trails: We like to use the All Trails app to plan out our hikes. Make sure to download trail maps to your phone (available on the pay version) so that you can map your route.

Windy.com: Make sure to check the weather before setting out for a hike. Our favorite website to check is Windy.com.

Alberta Parks: It’s important to check if the trail you want to go for is open or not. Alberta Parks updates their trail reports.

Facebook: Try joining Facebook groups like Hike Alberta to get more up to date information about certain hikes. The group has thousands of members and people our hiking in Kananaskis every day.

What to Wear Hiking in Kananaskis?

East End of Rundle
Hat, Sunglasses, Shell Jacket, Shorts, Trail Runners, Backpack, Pole and Gloves

Always be prepared when hiking in the Canadian Rockies. The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. You can easily start off cool at the base of the mountain and get hot as soon as you begin moving before getting cold at the summit again.

The goal of hiking clothes is to regulate your body temperature, provide element protection, and manage moisture. Temperature management is best done through a layering system if you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike, you can see our full post! 

We Have an Entire Website on Banff!

We live in this beautiful area of the world and want to make sure you have an epic time in the wilderness. Check out The Banff Blog for more travel information.

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