BEST Kananaskis Hikes for Mountain Lovers

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Alberta’s Kananaskis Nation has grown in recognition since COVID reared its ugly head. Persons are discovering that the mountain climbing is on par with what you’ll discover in close by Banff Nationwide Park. One of the best Kananaskis hikes described under are actually discovered throughout Kananaskis Nation – an space encompassing six provincial parks and three wildland provincial parks in an space overlaying 4,000 sq. kilometres. There’s a wealth of mountain climbing for each degree of hiker – a lot of which I’ve written about in earlier blogs.

Simple Kananaskis hikes everybody will love is roofed on this weblog. However I needed to showcase what I believe are one of the best Kananaskis hikes – ones that basically communicate to me and go away me feeling like I’ve had a memorable mountain climbing day. That’s to not say that I haven’t missed a couple of. There are three that come to thoughts – which have been on my want listing for ages together with Tent Ridge, Mist Ridge, and the Birdwood Traverse. I’m saving them for the proper blue sky day – with no threat of thunderstorms or smoke marring the view.

What’s modified in Kananaskis within the final yr is that you simply now must buy a Kananaskis Conservation Cross. I purchase a yearly one, however you should purchase each day passes too. All the time go ready if you’re mountain climbing within the mountains with the 10 mountain climbing necessities. Carry bear spray – that’s accessible and know learn how to use it. And be sure you examine path stories for the newest info, particularly with reference to closures.

This publish contains some affiliate hyperlinks. For those who make a qualifying buy by means of one in every of these hyperlinks, I’ll obtain a small proportion of the sale at no further value to you. Thanks on your help.

Location map of the Finest Kananaskis Hikes


Mt. Burke hike

John and I did the Mt. Burke hike in mid-April when there was plenty of snow nonetheless on the bottom. It’s a fantastic early season hike – that exams your winter conditioning program or lack thereof. There’s an extended stretch of mountain climbing within the timber however when you clear them, the views are improbable.

For those who do the hike underneath snowy situations, be sure you pack a pair of microspikes and poles for the one ethereal part. 

Spherical-trip: 16.0 km (9.9 miles) plus 1.0 km (0.6 mi) return to the car parking zone and again in the event you hike it earlier than Could 15

Elevation acquire: 918 m (3012 toes) spherical journey

Summit elevation: 2541 m (8333 toes)

Time wanted: 5 – 7 hours – We did it in 5.5 hours, 3 hours up and a couple of.5 hours down.

Map: Gem Trek Highwood and Cataract Creek, Kananaskis Nation

Another view from inside the fire lookout
One other view from inside the fireplace lookout on the Mount Burke hike

South Lawson Peak hike

The South Finish of Lawson hike delivers some wonderful views of the Kananaskis Lakes when you clear the timber. The path is steep initially however does degree out. Close to the top of the hike there’s some straightforward scrambling (no actual publicity) and a few pretty spots to get pleasure from a lunch on the highest. I’ve seen pictures of individuals doing the hike in spring with some snow on it – however you ought to be a assured hiker to try this.

You can in idea bike the primary 1.2 km and lock up your bike by the dam. On the finish of the hike you’d recognize the fast hike out.

Spherical-trip: 7.0 km

Elevation acquire: 762 m (2,500 foot) spherical journey

Summit elevation: 2393 m (7850 toes)

Time wanted: 4 – 5 hours 

Map: Gem Trek Kananaskis Lakes

The scrambly section near the summit - but all quite easy
The scrambly part close to the summit – however all fairly straightforward

Headwall Lakes hike – one of many best Hikes in Kananaskis folks don’t learn about

The Headwall Lakes hike shares the identical car parking zone as that used for the Chester Lake hike however that’s the place the similarities finish. The hike as much as Headwall Lakes sees a fraction of the visitors – and the hike itself is a level or two tougher than the one to Chester Lake.

John and I did it on a fall day after the primary snowfall. The hike begins off on logging roads, however as soon as you allow them it will get attention-grabbing. We didn’t have any route- discovering points because the path is boot-beaten. There may be some steep climbing after you go a rockslide, however there are many timber and handholds that can assist you transfer upwards. When you get to the highest of the headwall, the best way ahead is clear. It’s a phenomenal however desolate setting across the lakes – so totally different from what you expertise on the Chester Lake path.

There may be the choice to climb Fortress Mountain – or head over a col through some route discovering and right down to Chester Lake and out.

Spherical journey distance: 14 km to higher Headwall Lake 

Problem: Average

Elevation acquire: 430 m (1410 toes)

Higher lake elevation: 2340 m (7675 toes)

Time wanted: 5 – 6 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

One of the best hikes in Kananaskis boasts a desolate landscape at the upper Headwall Lake
Desolate panorama on the higher Headwall Lake on a fall weekend

Ptarmigan Cirque hike

The hike to Ptarmigan Cirque begins from the highest of Highwood Cross, so that you’re up excessive to begin the hike. I believe this can be a nice one to take your out-of-town friends on, particularly those that solely desire a half day outing. From the car parking zone, there’s a well-marked path that leads you to a freeway crossing. When you’re on the opposite aspect of the street, there may be some climbing, the steepest on the loop. However there are additionally views and wildflowers. Attain an intersection – and keep left. You’ll return to it on the best way again.

The upper you go the extra intersecting it will get. Take pleasure in excessive alpine meadows, wonderful mountain views and a waterfall. 

Spherical journey distance: 4.5 km loop

Problem: Simple

Elevation acquire: 214 m (702 toes)

Highpoint: 2420 m (7938 toes)

Time wanted: 1.5 – 2.5 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

You’ll pass several waterfalls on the way down from Ptarmigan Cirque

Pocaterra Ridge hike

Fingers down the Pocaterra Ridge hike is my favorite to do within the fall when the larches are at their peak. That is one beautiful, enjoyable hike to do – however manage a automotive shuttle so you may savour the expertise and hike it a technique solely.

The hike begins from Highwood Cross and follows unmarked trails to get to the turnoff to Pocaterra Ridge. There’s one climb there after which 4 minor summits or bumps alongside the ridge. The primary one is the toughest after which it’s straightforward going with beautiful vistas each which method you flip.

A method distance: 9.3 km (5.8 miles) 

Problem: Average

Elevation acquire: 550 m (1804 toes) and an 875 m loss (2870 toes)

Highpoint: 2670 m (8758 toes)

Time wanted: 5 – 6 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

The Pocaterra Ridge hike off of Highwood Pass
The Pocaterra Ridge hike off of Highwood Cross

Opal Ridge South Hike

This hike to Opal Ridge South is difficult and never for anybody who hasn’t hiked on scree earlier than. There’s additionally numerous vertical however the rewards are improbable. I discovered there to be a lot selection on this hike – with stunning grassy sections, a very improbable ridge stroll and unbelievable mountain views. 

The hike begins behind the fuel station throughout from the turn-off to Fortress Mountain. The primary a part of the hike isn’t inspiring as its beneath hydro strains, however the minute you begin climbing it will get higher – with views of the Kananaskis Lakes. Poles turn out to be useful!

A method distance: 8.0 km (5.0 miles) 

Problem: Laborious

Elevation acquire: 1012 m (3320 toes) 

Highpoint: 2597 m (8720 toes)

Time wanted: 4.5 – 6 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

Superb views and some challenging hiking on the Opal Ridge hike
Very good views and a few difficult mountain climbing on the Opal Ridge hike

Grizzly Ridge hike

The Grizzly Ridge hike (generally referred to as Grizzly Peak) is one other favorite of mine – and once more one which isn’t very busy. The hike follows the identical path as you’re taking to Pocaterra Ridge, however you flip left at a cairn earlier than you attain the beginning of the climb up Pocaterra Ridge.

Climb talus slopes to succeed in Grizzly Col – a preferred flip round place for a lot of. Then proceed up a steepish part on boulders to succeed in the ridge. The way in which ahead from there may be apparent. The ultimate climb to the excessive level on the ridge is a really brief scramble. The views from up listed below are scrumptious.

A method distance: 9.6 km (6.0 miles) 

Problem: Average to laborious

Elevation acquire: 518 m (1699 toes) to Grizzly Col plus 165 m (541 toes) to the highest of Grizzly Ridge

Highpoint: 2770 m (9090 toes)

Time wanted: 4.5 – 6 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

Grizzly Ridge - a stunning section of the hike
Grizzly Ridge – a surprising part of the hike

Chester Lake and Three Lakes Valley hike

Chester Lake is a well-liked vacation spot as soon as it opens after June thirtieth. For a minimal quantity of mountain climbing effort, you might be handled to expansive meadows, a phenomenal lake, and the potential of going larger – as much as the Three Lakes Valley. For those who’ve obtained the time, I extremely suggest doing it. 

The route as much as the Three Lakes Valley take you previous Elephant Rocks. Then its up previous plenty of mophead flowers to succeed in the primary of three lakes. Preserve going, realizing that the third lake might have dried up my summer season’s finish. Mountain goats frequent this space too.

Spherical journey distance: 9 km (5.6 miles) to Chester Lake; 13.5 km (7.4 miles) to the third lake

Elevation acquire: 315 m (1030 toes) to Chester Lake; 555 m (1820 toes) to the third lake

Problem: Simple to average

Time wanted: 3 – 4 hours for Chester, 4 – 6 hours for third lake

Chester Lake elevation: 2220 m (7282 toes)

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

Hiking above the first lake in the Three Lakes Valley
Mountain climbing above the primary lake within the Three Lakes Valley

Burstall Cross hike

The Burstall Cross hike begins throughout the street from Chester Lake. It’s obtained its personal parking space. The primary few kilometres are alongside a street with woods throughout. When the street turns into a path you’re nearly on the floodplain – and also you may wish to put some water sandals on right here to make the strolling simpler. The floodplain is wettest in early summer season, so there’s a excessive chance of getting a soaker.

The climbing begins after the floodplain but it surely’s at all times gradual. Very quickly you’re in subalpine meadows. Once you attain Burstall Cross, there are alternatives to proceed to Snow Peak, the Birdwood Traverse, or the Palliser Path. 

Spherical journey distance: 15 km (9.3miles)

Elevation acquire: 480 m (1574 toes) 

Problem: Simple 

Time wanted: 5 – 7 hours

Burstall Cross elevation: 2380 m (7806 toes)

Map: Gem Trek – Kananaskis Lakes

Burstall Pass in Kananaskis Country
Burstall Cross in Kananaskis Nation

Buller Cross hike

The Buller Cross hike begins off in stunning woods and climbs gently to succeed in a waterfall. Then in the event you’re round for larch season, you head by means of a number of stands of larches earlier than starting the ascent to treeline. From the go you look right down to Ribbon Lake – the place you may camp, and throughout to Guinn Cross, usually accessed through the Galatea Lakes path. From Buller Cross you can even do a loop and knock off North Buller Cross.

Spherical journey distance: 14.8 km (9.2 miles)

Elevation acquire: 670 m (2,198 toes)

Problem: Average

Time wanted: 4 -6 hours

Buller Cross elevation: 2470 m (8104 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

Looking down at the Rainbow Lakes from Buller Pass (you can camp here with a permit)
Trying down on the Rainbow Lakes from Buller Cross (you may camp right here with a allow)

Sparrowhawk Tarns hike – the most effective Kananaskis hikes however route-finding might be a difficulty 

The hike to the Sparrowhawk Tarns is gorgeous – however you do want a map or good instructions to remain on the path – not less than initially. After crossing the Excessive Rockies Path, proceed up on an apparent path. Once you see a well-defined break up within the path go proper. In any other case, you’ll find yourself climbing the way more tough Learn’s Ridge.

Clear the forest, go proper once more, and choose your method up by means of a boulder subject on a principally apparent path. We discovered it a lot simpler coming down. For those who choose the precise route, you gained’t have to make use of your fingers – until it’s to regular your self. The boulder subject climbs three ridges in whole – and delivers you out by the primary tarn. From right here you may determine how a lot exploring you wish to do – and retrace your steps to return to the car parking zone.

Spherical journey distance: 10.4 km (6.5 miles)

Elevation acquire: 720 m (2,362 toes)

Problem: Average

Time wanted: 4 – 5 hours

Buller Cross elevation: 2400 m (7874 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

Stupendous mountain vistas on the Sparrowhawk Tarn hike
Very good mountain vistas on the Sparrowhawk Tarns hike

Ha Ling Peak hike – the most effective Kananaskis hikes – and common too

Ha Ling Peak is an excellent common hike – but it surely’s not a straightforward one. Path enhancements have helped, but it surely’s one the place there’s numerous vertical over a brief distance so you could be sucking wind in the event you haven’t hiked shortly. It climbs rather a lot however with the addition of viewpoints, there are locations to drag off the path, sit again and benefit from the mountain surroundings.

The ultimate slog to the summit rewards with actually improbable views of the Bow Valley – and Canmore under. Watch out on the prime with cornices and rocks. There could also be climbers under – or like final yr a few hikers venturing out on a cornice. That was not the neatest issues to do!

Spherical journey distance: 5.4 km (3.3 miles)

Elevation acquire: 741 m (2,434 toes)

Problem: Average

Time wanted: 2 – 4.5 hours relying in your health degree and the way a lot time you spend on prime

Ha Ling Peak summit: 2407 m (7897 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

Quite the view from the top of one of the sets of stairs
Fairly the view from the highest of one of many units of stairs

Galatea Lakes hike

It’s an easy hike to Galatea Lake by the use of Lillian Lake. The trailhead is signed and simple to search out. It’s about 20 km south of Barrier Lake.  

The actually good mountain climbing begins at Lillian Lake – although on the best way up there are some good peek a boo views. You should climb 183 metres to succeed in the Galatea Lakes, however the improbable views definitely will maintain you transferring. For individuals who have extra juice of their legs there may be the choice to hike as much as Guinn Cross.

Spherical journey distance: 17 km (10.5 miles) to higher Galatea Lake overlook

Elevation acquire: 733 m (2,404feet)

Problem: Average

Time wanted: 5 – 6.5 hours

Higher Galatea Lake Overlook elevation: 2240 m (7347feet)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

Hiking towards the second of the Galatea Lakes
Mountain climbing in the direction of the second of the Galatea Lakes

Centennial Ridge – Mt. Allan hike

I did the Centennial Ridge hike as a one-way outing beginning at Ribbon Creek and ending at Lifeless Man’s Flats. It was an epic form of day – however a grand one too. Most individuals do an out and again hike, which makes the logistics method simpler.

When you’ve discovered the path (nearly the crux of the hike) then you definately’re in for a deal with when you get out of the timber. The Olympic Summit, the Mushroom Backyard, some enjoyable downclimbing all add to the expertise of the hike. Views on this, the best path within the Rockies, are spectacular. Permit a full day to do the hike – and attempt to choose a day with none thunderstorms within the forecast as you’re very uncovered up excessive.

Spherical journey distance as an out and again – and never descending to Lifeless Man’s Flats: 14.6 km (9 miles)

Elevation acquire: 1347 m (4418 toes) 

Problem: Laborious

Time wanted: 7- 10 hours 

Mt. Allan summit: 2819 m (9246 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

John enjoying an airy view off the Mount Allan summit
One of the best Kananaskis hikes provide up memorable mountain views like this one on the Mount Allan summit

Wasootch Ridge hike

The hike up Wasootch Ridge is a good early-season one as its snow free sooner than most. Entry is simple – simply an hour’s drive from Calgary close to the turnoff to the Nakiska Ski Resort. It took us some time to search out the path (described within the hyperlink to my weblog) however after we did it was straight-forward.

This can be a take your breath away form of hike due to how steep it’s. Happily, after the primary huge push it modulates so its on and off steep as you climb the assorted bumps alongside the ridge. Whereas it’s potential in the event you’re good at scrambling to climb the height, most individuals flip again on the cairn.

Spherical journey distance: 11 km (6.8 miles)

Elevation acquire: 1010 m (3315 toes) 

Problem: Average

Time wanted: 4 – 6 hours 

Elevation of cairn on the finish: 2130 m (6986 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Canmore & Kananaskis Village

Wasootch Ridge, Kananaskis Country
Mountain climbing alongside the gorgeous Wasootch Ridge

King Creek Ridge Hike

For those who wish to be challenged, do the King Creek Ridge hike. It’s bloody steep all the best way as much as the ridge. This a part of the hike isn’t for the novice. However as soon as on the ridge, the mountain climbing is positively superb. It’s the most effective hikes in Kananaskis because it presents a superb ridge stroll that goes for a couple of kilometre, offering stupendous views in very course. We did the hike in early June and located it to be snow free, save for the odd patch alongside the ridge within the shade.

Spherical journey distance: 6.1 km (3.8 miles)

Elevation acquire: 729 m (2390 toes) 

Problem: Laborious

Time wanted: 4 – 5 hours 

Cross elevation: 2580 m (8462 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Kananaskis Lakes

Views from King Creek Ridge
Views like this make the stiff climb fully worthwhile and propel it into one of the best hikes in Kananaskis class

Piper Cross hike

The Piper Cross hike isn’t well-known and but it’s the most effective Kananaskis hikes. John and I did it as a day hike from the Tombstone Campground, however with an early begin its completely doable from the car parking zone on Freeway 40. There isn’t any signage on the path however as soon as you discover it, the best way ahead is clear. 

There are a few straightforward stream and river crossings, a jaunt by means of a meadow after which some straightforward mountain climbing on a mild grade by means of the forest to reach within the sub-alpine. When you’re there, the views are expansive and the sense of house enormous. In brief order, you see Piper Cross off within the distance past an enormous boulder. Benefit from the wildflowers as you make your method over to the one remaining climb – a sizzling one so take plenty of water on this hike.

Whole distance from the trailhead on Freeway 40: 24 km or 14.2 km return from the Tombstone Campground

Elevation acquire: 617 m (2024 toes) from the car parking zone

Time wanted: 7-8 hours as a day-hike; permit 5-6 hours return from the Tombstone Campground

Cross elevation: 2580 m (8462 toes)

Map: Gem Trek Kananaskis Lakes

Looking back at the sole other person we saw on the hike
Trying again on the sole different individual we noticed on the Piper Cross hike

What to tackle one of the best Kananaskis hikes

There are some things I’d suggest, some for pleasure and a few for consolation.

For wildflower aficionados, I’d suggest a pocket ebook for identification on the hike.  

Take a solar hat in summer season and plenty of sunscreen. Don’t neglect to pack further excessive vitality or protein bars.

I wish to take water purification tablets in case I run out of water and wish a drink earlier than I attain the automotive.

And to make the lunch time cease extra comfy, I’m an enormous fan of inflatable seat cushions.

Click on on the photograph to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Best Kananaskis hikes in Alberta



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