10 Great Hikes Along Kananaskis Trail - Hiking Alberta


Ten easily accessible great hikes, along Kananaskis Trail west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


Following are ten great hikes along Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) within easy access of Calgary, AlbertaKananaskis Trail, west of Calgary and south from the TransCanada Highway, provides quick and easy access to Kananaskis Country

It is always wise to stop at a Visitor Centre for current trail conditions.  The south section of Kananaskis Trail, past the turn onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail is closed from December 1 to June 14  to protect wildlife corridors, to reduce the need to clear roller coaster mountain roads and to reduce public exposure to avalanche risk.


Click on the red links for more detailed information about the hike.


1.   Old Baldy


The hike to the top of Old Baldy offers a wide variety of scenic terrain and spectacular views over Kananaskis Country after a short, humbling aerobic section up the grassy hill above the lake.  A loop is possible.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The lake below Old Baldy in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.



2.   Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop


There is more up and down elevation than one might expect around a lake but this full day hike offers relentless and incredibly beautiful, stunning scenery.  The south shore, in forest, can become a bit tedious but there are several opportunities to get to lake shore.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada View from Upper Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.



3.   The Wedge


Spectacular views of Mount Kidd and surrounding mountains unfold on this hike with extended sections of aggressive elevation.  There is a popular and serious, moderate scramble with one short hard section, for those properly equipped and experienced, who choose to continue beyond the scenic ridge.

Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Wedge in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada



4.   Mount Kidd Fire Lookout


There is a bit of route-finding required to find the trail-head off Kovach Trail and a brutal ascent up the side of the hill which may cause loss of the will to live, but the incredible views across Kananaskis Valley make the effort more than worthwhile.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada  Mount Kidd Fire Lookout in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada



5.    Hummingbird Plume Lookout


An excellent hike on great road and trail with historical significance.  See the remains of the old fire lookout while it survives.  Remember to take in the view from the ridge just beyond the old wooden lookout.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Hummingbird Plume Lookout in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


6.   Barrier Lake Lookout


A popular day hike with a walk across the dam, great views of Barrier Lake, a concrete picnic table near the top and great views of surrounding mountains in the Bow Valley Corridor.  It is polite to ask for permission to approach the inhabited Lookout.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Barrier Lake Fire Lookout in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


7.   Jewell Falls


The hike to Jewell Falls, best done earlier in the season, features a cascading white water creek and waterfall.  There are several loop opportunities as well as continuing to Jewell Pass.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Jewell Falls in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


8.   Rawson Lake


The hike to Rawson Lake branches off from the south shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake and leads up to another lakeshore hike with amazing views of Mount Sarrail, and over the Kananaskis Lakes if you climb to the ridge on the far side.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Sarrail looms over Rawson Lake in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


9.   Pocaterra Ridge


A creek crossing and a stiff climb from Little Highwood parking leads to a day of fascinating terrain and multiple WOW! moments as phenomenal views unfold on both sides along the entire length of Pocaterra Ridge.  Can also be done from the Highwood Pass end as well, or as a loop through the Rockfall Valley.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada  View from Pocaterra Ridge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada


10.   Ptarmigan Cirque


This hike climbs from Highwood Pass east along running white water to a fabulous bowl with amazing views over Kananaskis Valley and beyond.  If the Ptarmigan Cirque hike is closed, enjoy the Pocaterra Cirque hike on the west side of Highwood Pass.


Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ptarmigan Cirque above Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada


Carry a map, consult and carry a good hiking guide, obtain current conditions from the Visitor Centre and tell someone where you are going and how long you expect to be there.  On completion, call to tell them you have completed your day hike.

There is a huge assortment of hikes along Kananaskis Trail (Hwy. 40).   Carry layers and pack everything you may need to enjoy a great day

Happy trails and stay safe.








Thank you, Sheryl. Feedback is always helpful. The lists are a good way to find a hike with a higher reward over effort ratio. You will enjoy Hummingbird Plume Lookout. It is a photogenic hike and the view beyond the historic Lookout is outstanding. It may be a bit early to tackle this hike. Snow is lingering at higher elevations. It is a very nice, evenly-maintained climb on old roads and excellent trail. An ideal place for lunch. Have a great hike and stay safe. Probably do a better job of practising bear awareness than I did on that particular day. Rushing water masks the sound. Bear and I got along just fine. Thanks for your comment, Sheryl. I really enjoy your horticultural blog at Flowery Prose.

I like these "list" posts! I'm particularly intrigued by the Hummingbird Plume Lookout hike - that's now on my list of hikes to do this summer!

Thanks for your kind words. The hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake on a clear, still day is long but also a photographer's paradise. It is an outstanding hike. Kananaskis Country is an incredible and well-managed wilderness resource west of Calgary that often plays second cousin to the fabulous and internationally acclaimed Banff National Park. For locals Kananaskis Country is a jewel with incredible hiking opportunities without the commercialism and the crowds of its larger tourist attraction. Even though I have been hiking in Kananaskis for decades I am always finding new alternatives and there are many hikes which deserve to be repeated. Thanks for your comment, Boomergirl. I am looking forward to reading your post about Minister's Island.

Wow Barry, this post really makes me want to hike Kananaskis. Have only driven a back road through region to Calgary in early spring when snow was still high. Your photos are dynamite. Especially love that Kananaskis Upper Loop pic.

There is great opportunity for hiking in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta and British Columbia. Although I have not been as far south in California as San Diego, it was a great pleasure to hike in the San Francisco area and Yosemite National Park. Spectacular trails there. I hope you will one day have the opportunity to visit our part of the continent and experience the trails we enjoy here. Thanks for your comment, Christy.

You must have so many hikes to choose from near you. I get tired of the same hikes in San Diego and we are often driving over an hour each way to find new ones.

The trails will be ready when you return. Thanks for your comment, Leigh and I hope your travels in Canada are incredibly successful and productive.

More fantastic suggestions and again I've only done a few of them. This summer I am busy traveling mostly outside of Alberta researching material for a book on adventures in Canada so I can see that once I have my summers back I have so much to explore.

Three excellent sources for maps in Calgary are Norseman XC Ski, Hike and Climb Shop, MEC and Map Town for almost all hiking needs. Amazon carries many maps. If venturing off trail for any significant distance you may be well advised to get a more detailed topographic map for the area. Either location can help with this. Thank you for your comment, Jenny.

Hi Barry, Where is the best place in Calgary to buy a detailed hiking trails map? Thanks

Do you lead any hikes or snowshoe hikes?

Dana,  Most of my wilderness recreation time is done solo.  I have a few valued hiking partners which I hike with periodically, maybe once or twice in a season. A valued hiking partner is an uncommon resource due to the occasional broad variables and intensity of the exercise. Almost everything I do is solo.  I do not lead any hikes or snowshoe trips. The Calgary Outdoor Club or the University of Calgary Outdoor Center provide outstanding opportunities and I recommend them.  Many decades later I still have a hiking partner or two that I met through these outstanding organizations. Thanks for your comments.  Happy trails.  Stay safe.