The Top 10 Trails in Alberta
The Canadian Rockies are world-renowned for their incredible views, iced-capped peaks, alpine lakes, and diverse wildlife. Due to all these AMAZING qualities, we can't help but want to venture out to immerse ourselves in the fresh mountain air and partake in numerous outdoor adventures!
With travel restrictions slowly lifting, Banff and Canmore have been on everyone's summer to-do list. However, if you're new to hiking or the area, the number of trails and hikes for you to explore can be overwhelming. We get it. That's why we've compiled a list of hikes in the area for you to try out.
Whether you are just getting started with hiking or are a seasoned adventurer, there's always something new to discover in the mountains! Plus, what's better than getting (metaphorically) lost in the woods while hiking along a trail or up to a summit!
1. Grassi Lakes Trail Loop – Easy
Odds are you've already seen pictures of this gorgeous, highly trafficked loop located in Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. During your hike, you'll notice the beautiful waterfalls, caves, and even people rock climbing! This trail is 4.3km long and takes about 2 hours, and is best suited for beginners. It is easy to explore all year round; however, make sure to stick to the trail and follow any regulations (especially during winter!).
2. Grotto Canyon Trail – Easy
Up next, Grotto Canyon Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park. It's a 7.1km trail, and that takes 2 hours to complete. It's the perfect short hike that will give you incredible views. Keep your eyes open for the waterfall! As you approach the waterfall, you’ll notice the walls of the canyon start to get smooth! This hike is another all-year-round trail that is perfect for the whole family, especially dogs! So bring your favorite four-legged trail buddy, and enjoy! However, make sure to keep them on leash due to park regulations.
3. Johnston Canyon Trail to Upper Falls – Easy
This trail is extremely popular amongst all levels of hikers, meaning it is often busy during the summer months. Arrive early to avoid the crowds; maybe even try for a sunrise hike to kick start your day! The trail is located in Banff National Park and offers amazing views of waterfalls and cliffs. It is 5.2 kilometers in length and takes about 1.5 hours to finish. Johnston Canyon is also very popular in the winter because it is the perfect spot to go ice walking for both beginners and advanced individuals
4. Rawson Lake and Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail – Moderate
5. C-Level Cirque - Moderate
The C-level Cirque is located in Lake Minnewanka, just outside the Banff townsite. It is a great forest trail for the summer and early fall months. During these peak months to be on the trail, crowds tend to be moderate. The hike is 9.3km and takes about 3 and a half hours to complete. Fun fact- the “C Level” refers to the upper workings of the former coal mine in Bankhead, now a ghost town! Once at the top, you can see the massive mountain bowl that was hollowed out by a glacier.
6.Lake Agnes Trail – Moderate
Located in Banff National Park, Lake Agnes features a must-see waterfall! Lake Agnes is a small lake only a couple of kilometers away from Lake Louise and is a great hiking destination for families with younger children. It's accessible all year round, and dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash. There is also a lake Agnes Tea House to enjoy your afternoon tea. The distance is 7.5 km and can take up to 2-4 hours.
7.Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak – Hard
Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak is a 7.2km trail located in Bow Valley Provincial Park. This hike has amazing views of a river and, at the summit, a stunning bird's eye view of the town of Canmore. While hiking up, you'll see Mount Rundle, Lady MacDonald, and Goat Creek. This trail is an easy 3 hours, perfect for a quick jaunt in the woods to start or end your day!. Bonus- this is a dog friendly trail, just make sure to keep them on a leash!
8. Heart Mountain Horseshoe Trail – Hard
9. King Creek Ridge – Hard
King Creek Ridge is a more challenging 6.8km back trail located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, taking 3 hours to complete. This hike goes along three peaks, with some parts of the trail in open exposure and some following a narrow path. Make sure you reach the final peak as it provides the best views of the area, especially of Mount Wintour. And, if you hike mid-June, keep an eye out for the beautiful wildflowers in bloom. This is a very steep hike, so make sure to take poles with you. And watch your step as there are lots of small rocks that can cause you to lose your footing. You’ll also want to keep an eye out for the wildlife in the area, check out this blog for staying safe during wildlife encounters.
10. Mount Rundle – Hard
Mount Rundle is a 15.1km hike that can take up to 8-10 hours in Banff National Park. Mount Rundle is one of the most popular hikes in Banff and is best to visit from June until October. The hike starts in the forest and becomes more technical as it rises. Keep an eye out for dangerous slab and scree (broken rocks and small loose stones that cover the slope of a mountain) all the way to the summit. Once you've reached the top, get ready for some breathtaking views of Banff and the surrounding mountains!
BONUS: Snake Indian Falls
As cool as the name sounds, the Snake Indian Falls trail is even cooler! This is a 51.8 kilometre trail located a little further north in Jasper National Park. The trail itself is a 3-5 day back-country trip, depending if you bike or hike. You’ll get to travel through thick forest, across the sandy mountain side, and along a river that the Snake Indian Falls flows into. There’s still a bit of an uphill trek to reach the falls, but it is definitely worth it! Make sure to check out the falls from the bottom and from the top. This is quite a hard trail so only the most experienced hikers should take this on. As with all trails, take your time, be careful, and stay alert!
Now that you’ve got your list, where is your next adventure taking you? Which trail are you most excited to try? Comment below and let us know if we missed your favourite!
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