Kananaskis Country and Canmore

Hiking Trails, Hiking Information

Hiking is one of the main activities in the Canadian Rockies that can be enjoyed by everyone. You will find anything between easy, shorter hikes to long day hikes around Canmore and Kananaskis Country.

The town of Canmore has an extensive and well marked trail system that is suited for the novice. You can take in the surrounding mountain scenery at a leisurely pace and end with a visit to the downtown area and it's numerous speciality stores, galleries and coffee shops.

More expert hikers will head out to the backcountry were there is an abundance of hiking options with varying difficulty levels. Preparedness and experience is key when hiking in the backcountry. We recommend getting in touch with local guiding services, which offer anything from interpretative hikes, wildlife viewing to multi day hiking trips and aboriginal experiences.

Following is a selection of some hiking trails in the Area:

Karst Spring Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 9.5 km return. Elevation gain: 200 metres. Time: 3 1/2 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 39 km south on the Smith-Dorrien / Spray Trail (Highway 742 - gravel road) which begins just past the Canmore Nordic Gentre.
Turn right 5 km. to the Mount Shark parking lot, where you will find the trailhead.
Description: This trail leads to Karst Spring where boulders and driftwood are covered with bright green moss. The gentle elevation gain makes this hike a favorite with families, and the cool air near Karst Spring is appreciated hot summer days. The first 3.6 km. are open to bicycles. Walking on the road leads you through the Mount Shark Trail System into the forest above Watridge Lake where a short descent puts you at the shore of this lake known for it's trout fishing (don't forget your licence). Then follow the boardwalk and climb the trail along the creek to where Karst Spring bursts out of a rock face. The spring drains from passageways between limestone layers of Shark Ridge creating a karst formation. Snow and rain water seep into cracks and dissolve the rock, creating tunnels from which streams begin.

Grassi Lakes Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Light.
Distance: 3.8 km return. Elevation gain: 250 metres. Time: 2 hours return.
Location: The trailhead begins 500 metres south of where the pavement ends just past the Canmore Nordic Centre. The trailhead parking lot will be on your right.
Description: This wonderful hike climbs through the forest to two beautiful ponds. Highlights along the way include a waterfall, wildflowers, and a panoramic view of Canmore and area.

Buller Pass Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Difficult
Distance: 13.5 km return. Elevation gain: 670 metres. Time: 6 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km south on the Smith-Dorrien / Spray Trail (Highway 742 - gravel road) which begins just past the Canmore Nordic Gentre. Turn right into the Buller Mountain day use area parking lot, where you will find the trailhead across the road.
Description: This strenuous hike leads to an alpine pass at 2470 metres providing impressive views of the Ribbon Creek Valley. To get to the pass, you need comfortable hiking boots as well as being able to negotiate steep, rocky slopes. Bridged creeks, traces of an ancient forest fire, a beautiful waterfall that has carved out a circular pool in the bedrock and numerous caves and arches are some of the highlights of this hike.

Bow Valley Provincial Park Hiking Trails

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 1.9 km to 2.5 km. Elevation gain: none. Time: 0.5 to 1 hour depending on the trail chosen.
Location: From Canmore, drive 23 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary and use the Bow Valley Park exit. The park entrance is approximately 1 km. and the six trailheads are well marked.
Description: Beaver ponds, birds, flowers and springs will delight everyone who ventures on these short relaxing walks.

Grotto Canyon Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 4 km return to the waterfall. Elevation gain: 50 metres. Time: 1.5 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 14 km east on Highway 1A towards Calgary and the Grotto Mountain trailhead is on the left side.
Description: This trail leads up a creek bed into a narrow canyon of gray limestone walls. From the trailhead, go west along the powerline past the Baymag Plant and go right where the sign points into the woods. Follow the creek bed up to the fork at the end of the trail. On the right branch, up 50 metres is a small waterfall, and the left branch continues up the creek bed to a wide valley with hoodoos. You'll want to give yourself extra time for this journey, perhaps another 1.5 hours.

Heart Creek Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 4 km return. Elevation gain: 100 metres. Time: 1.5 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 14 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary and use the Heart Creek / Lac des Arcs exit. The trailhead is on the south side of Highway 1.
Description: Hike this popular trail up Heart Creek to a nicely hidden waterfall. The trail crosses a treed slope and over a footbridge to a junction wher you turn right and follow the wide gravel path up the creek. You will cross the same creek on seven log bridges as the walls Mt. McGillivray on the right and Heart Mountain on the left slowly creep in on you until the cliff walls meet and you can hear the roar of a waterfall out of sight further up the canyon.

Centennial Ridge - North Approach Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Very Difficult
Distance: 21 km return. Elevation gain: 1400 metres. Time: 12 hours return.
This trail is closed from April 1 to June 21 each year for wildlife management.
Location: From Canmore, drive 7 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary and use Alpine Resort Haven exit. The trailhead parking lot is 1.25 km, just before the Resort.
Description: At the trailhead follow the road under the Skogan Pass power lines which swings west toward 2 creeks. After the first creek, turn left and follow the road - there are red markers on the south of the creek. It is an extremely steep road which climbs past several coal seams, but it eventually eases after gaining about 500 metres of elevation. The road ends near the treeline and a narrow trail takes you along the slopes of Mount Collembola. The trail continues up a dangerous grassy slope (Use Caution!) where eventually the precipice of Mount Lougheed can be enjoyed. The walk up to the summit of Mount Allan has some of the best views in the Rockies - from Mount Temple up near Lake Louise to the skyscrapers of Calgary.

Quaite Creek Valley Overnight Hike

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 4.5 km each way. Elevation gain: 100 metres. Time: 2 hours to the campground.
Location: From Canmore, drive 14 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary and use the Heart Creek / Lac des Arcs exit. The trailhead is on the south side of Highway 1.
Description: A short, easy hike into the campsites which are sheltered in trees. Go straight at the first junction over the footbridge, turn right approximately 2.9 km. along the path where a trail joins up on the left. Follow the trail up until you reach the campground.

Barrier Lake Forestry Hiking Trails ( 2 Loops)

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 2.3 km return. Elevation gain: 10 metres. Time: 1 hour return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 12.3 km south at the U of C Kananaskis Field station parking lot.
Description: Learn about soils, plant layers and forest management procedures. In world war II, this was the site of a Prisoner of War Camp.

Eau Claire Hiking Trail Loop

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 1.5 km. Elevation gain: 0 metres. Time: .5 hours
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 35 km. south at the Eau Claire Campground entrance.
Description: This is a short interpretive loop through the valley bottom and along the river.

Wedge Pond Hiking Trail Loop

Difficulty Rating: Light
Distance: 1 km. Elevation gain: 10 metres. Time: .5 hours.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 30 km. south at the Wedge Pond Day Use Area parking lot.
Description: A relaxing lakeshore trail with nice views.

Prairie View Lookout Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Medium
Distance: 10 km return. Elevation gain: 500 metres. Time: 7 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 9 km. south at the Barrier Dam Day Use Area.
Description: One of the most popular trails in the area because of its early season with excellent views. Cross Barrier Dam where an uphill climb takes you past the powerline and up toward McConnell Ridge, utilizing switchbacks. With nearly continuous climbing through the trees, you will reach the ridge. The trail narrows and becomes steeper until you reach the top of the cliff.

Baldy Pass - South Approach Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Medium
Distance: 7.4 km return. Elevation gain: 570 metres. Time: 4.5 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 14.7 km. south at the Baldy Pass trailhead parking lot (across the highway).
Description: A short, scenic climb through a valley providing exceptional views of the foothills once you reach the pass.

Ribbon Falls Hiking / Mountain Biking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Medium
Distance: 16.5 km return. Elevation gain: 300 metres. Time: 7 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 23 km. south at the Ribbon Creek Day Use area near Kananaskis Village.
Description: The trail follows along Ribbon Creek up a narrow valley to a view of Ribbon Falls. The medium grade and several waterfalls has made it a great hike for families, with the first 4 km open to mountain bikes. There is a campground for those wishing to make this an overnight hike. 2 hours further (1.8 km / 200 metre rise) is Ribbon Lake, which also has a campground. Note: This section is extremely strenuous with 3 chains that you must haul yourself up a cliff with.

Centennial Ridge - South Approach Hiking Trail

Difficulty Rating: Very Difficult
Distance: 13.8 km return. Elevation gain: 1350 metres. Time: 9 hours return.
This trail is closed from April 1 to June 21 for wildlife management.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 23 km. south at the Ribbon Creek Day Use area near Kananaskis Village.
Description: This trail offers some of the best views of any trail in this area. Constructed by Calgary's Rocky Mountain Ramblers to celebrate Canada's Centennial in 1967, it's the highest maintained trail in Canada. At the sign in the Ribbon Creek parking lot, go north on Hidden Trail. After hiking about 200 meters, tum left and start the long climb to Centennial Ridge. The views are well worth it. Don't forget to bring your camera!

Galatea Creek Hiking Trail to Lillian Lake

Difficulty Rating: Difficult
Distance: 12.6 km return. Elevation gain: 500 metres. Time: 6 hours return.
Location: From Canmore, drive 35 km east on Highway 1 towards Calgary to the Highway 40 exit and drive south into Kananaskis Country. The trailhead is 32 km. south at the Galatea Day Use area.
Description: The trail crosses Galatea Creek nine times, with a rock cliff along the river. For the more adventurous, try the 1.2 km, 200 metre elevation extra hike to the Lower Galatea Lake. There is a campground at Lillian Lake for those wishing to make this an overnight hike.

 


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