10 More Great Kananaskis Trail Hikes - Hiking Alberta

 

Another selection of great hikes in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

 

Here are ten more 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

Several of these hikes may be modified or unavailable due to 2013 flood damage.  Due diligence is required.

Check in at a Visitor Centre for current trail conditions and the most recent weather forecast.  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 title for a link to more detailed information about the hike in the original post.

 


1.   Rae Glacier


 

The hike to Rae Glacier is an excellent experience which involves a short, moderate ascent from the trailhead to Elbow Lake, then a right turn on good trail to the back, east side of Mount Rae.  This easily accessible glacier is the easternmost in the Rocky Mountains and is one of the sources for the Elbow River which feeds the Bow River in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.  Scenery is uniquely spectacular over diverse terrain and there are discovery options worthy of pursuit.  Rock Glacier is on the west flank of Mount Rae adjacent to Kananaskis Trail.  Very cool.

 

Rae Glacier, Kananaskis County, Alberta, Canada Approaching the Rae Glacier south of Elbow Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rae Glacier, Kananaskis County, Alberta, Canada An excellent view of the Rae Glacier shrouded by mist in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


2.   Guinn's Pass


 

Guinn's Pass is an offshoot of the Galatea Lakes Trail offering amazing views into the bowl under Mount Kidd which hosts Ribbon Lake feeding Ribbon Falls.  It is the site of a famous and tragic 1986 aircraft disasterSouth Buller Pass and North Buller Pass are clearly visible on the far side and are accessible from Guinn's PassMount Kidd can be ascended on the right for clear views of Lillian Lake and both of the Galatea Lakes.  Indelibly memorable scenery.

 

Guinn's Pass, Kananskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view from Guinn's Pass across the Ribbon Lake bowl to North and South Buller Pass in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Guinn's Pass, Kananskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ribbon Lake wedged between Mount Bogart and Mount Kidd from Guinn's Pass in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


3.   Lillian Lake


 

Lillian Lake is an easier hike available to a wide range of people who have the ability to climb the trails which bypass major waterfalls. Galatea Creek is laced with multiple wooden bridges over cascading white water.  Truly a beautiful and very popular hike from Galatea Trailhead on Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40).  This is a wonderful place for a picnic beside the still, emerald water with an available option to continue to Lower Galatea Lake and/or Upper Galatea Lake for more robust hikers.  A goldmine of opportunity on diverse terrain.  The roar of fast water is soothing to the soul.

 

Lillian Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The near end of Galatea Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Pristine, rustic beauty.

 

Lillian Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view down to Lillian Lake on the approach to Lower Galatea Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


4.   Mount Allan


 

Mount Allan hosts Nakiska Ski Resort on its east flank beneath Olympic Summit.  The true summit is behind and it is a worthwhile objective which can be achieved from the south on the Hidden Creek Trail past Coal Mine Scar from Ribbon Creek parking, or from the north near Dead Man Flats on the TransCanada Hwy.  Two cars, combined with an abundance of time, energy and perpetual positive thinking, allow the traverse to be achieved with hours of ridge hiking at altitude and the incredible views such an exercise provides.  Not for the faint of heart.  The summit via the south access would be a good initial hike.  It is initially a steep climb from Coal Mine Scar but from Olympic Summit you will hike past the Mushroom Gardens and the very impressive Rock Garden.  Not to be missed.  Views from the summit are breathtaking over tarns beneath adjacent Mount Collembola and across to Mount Lougheed.

 

Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view to Mount Kidd from Mount Allan just above Coal Mine Scar in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view from Mount Allan across Mount Lougheed to Memorial Lake # 2 beneath Ribbon Peak in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A few of the massive pillars in the Rock Garden on Mount Allan in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


5.   Galatea Lakes


 

Guinn's Pass, Lillian Lake and Galatea Lakes are all accessed by the same trail beginning at the Galatea Parking Area.  It is possible to do all three in the same long, arduous day.  Galatea Lakes past Lillian Lake are worthy of pursuit.  The beautiful lakes are rock and mountain bound with plenty of scree and many caves in surrounding rock walls.  Beware the faint trail on the opposite side of Galatea Lake is more rustic and does not link back into the main trail, to the best of my knowledge.  It will get you back to Lillian LakeGalatea Lakes are a popular and worthwhile hiking objective.  Incredibly beautiful scenery.

 

Lower Galatea Lake past Lillian Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Lower Galatea Lake past Lillian Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Upper Galatea Lake past Lower Galatea Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Looking back on Lower Galatea Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


6.   Coal Mine Scar


 

Coal Mine Scar is an easy hike to a filled-in coal mining pit on the flank of Mount Allan.  The hike begins in the Ribbon Creek parking area which was once the location of the old coal mining town known as Kovach.  Careful investigation of nearby surrounding forest will reveal evidence of the historical infrastructure.  Hidden Trail leads to a left turn, then continuing straight will reveal an old mining cabin and debris on the way to the massive grassy field with magnificent views of Mount Kidd.  All that remains of the old pit mine is a short section of coal rich cliff and the old mining roads.  Return on the TransCanada Trail creates a loop on better trail.

 

Coal Mine Scar, Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Coal Mine Scar on the flank of Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Coal Mine Scar, Mount Allan, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view of Mount Kidd from Coal Mine Scar on Mount Allan in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


7.   Baldy Pass


 

Baldy Pass can be achieved, from both directions, by a number of routes.  The most popular is the marked trailhead with good parking on the opposite side of Kananaskis Trail.  The trail has diverse features and although the views are compromised by tall trees at the pass, a quick jaunt, to higher elevations on either side of the pass, solves that problem quickly.  Later in summer, when protected snow is gone, the summit of Mount Baldy can be scrambled or spectacular views are available from the unnamed ridge to the south.  As much, or as little, as you choose.  It is a good season opener but it may be necessary to cross fallen snow from winter avalanches.

 

Baldy Pass, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A compromised view near Baldy Pass in Kananaskis Country can be improved by gaining altitude on either side of the pass.

 

 


8.   Cox Hill


 

Cox Hill is often hiked from the Dawson Trailhead on the Powderface Trail south from Sibbald Creek Trail (Hwy 68).  However, there is an option to drive further south to make the access on an entrance to the TransCanada Trail.  A T-junction on the ridge will provide the option to hike to the top Cox Hill to the left, or the nondescript summit of Jumpingpound Mountain to the right.  Or both.  There are sweeping panoramic views from the ridge with Moose Mountain prevalent to the southeast.  Lots of unplanned wandering room in here.

 

Cox Hill, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view of Moose Mountain from the top of Cox Hill in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Cox Hill, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view towards Jumpingpound Mountain from the top of Cox Hill in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Cox Hill, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Spring flowers enhance the view to Moose Mountain from the top of Cox Hill in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


9.   Memorial Lakes


 

There are three Memorial Lakes.  The most commonly seen, from higher surrounding elevations, is 'The Emerald', or Memorial Lake # 2.  The lakes represent significant and tragic history. 

Access is off the Ribbon Creek Trail onto North Ribbon Creek Trail.  If you make it to the old Lumber Mill site you have gone too far.  The North Ribbon Creek Trail is rustic over a variety of beautiful terrain with several creek crossing leading to an impressive, multiple pitch waterfall.  The steep hike up beside the waterfall is the final approach to Memorial Lake # 1.  It is OK to call it a day here. 

The trail continues to another waterfall on the right and ascent trail through scree leads to the Memorial Lake # 2.  This is really worth the time and effort.  The beauty of 'The Emerald' leaves many speechless.  You are wise to call it a day here.

However, if you momentarily take leave of your senses, you may continue on trail to an easy scramble and hike to Memorial Lake # 3, tucked around the other side of Ribbon PeakBogart Tower frames the view and mighty Mount Bogart looms behind.  At the Memorial Cairn you can pay silent homage and respect to the heroes who gave their lives in air searches for a 1986 Kananaskis Country plane crash. 

It is a very long day but you may be humbled in many different ways.  This hike changed my life.  It is a place of grandeur and retrospect where eagle soar.

 

Memorial Lakes, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Ribbon Peak rises above Memorial Lake # 1 in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Memorial Lakes, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view of 'The Emerald' Memorial Lake # 2 in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Memorial Lakes, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Memorial Lake # 3 in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


10.   Pocaterra Cirque


 

Pocaterra Cirque is an easily accessible hike off Kananaskis Trail into the large parking area at Highwood Pass beginning June 15.  The hike leads to a beautiful bowl with ponds,  running water and towering rock walls.  There are several trail extension alternatives to extend the day.  This trail provides excellent views north to the Rae Glacier on the west flank of Mount Rae along Kananaskis Trail.

 

Pocaterra Cirque, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A pond along the Pocaterra Cirque Trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 Pocaterra Cirque, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada An excellent view of Rock Glacier on Mount Rae from the Pocaterra Cirque Trail off Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

 


Bonus # 11.   Ribbon Falls


 

Ribbon Falls is an 11 kilometre (6.9 mile), one-way, hike with modest elevation, from the Ribbon Creek parking area on trail between the narrow space separating Mount Kidd and Mount Bogart, to an excellent waterfall where lunch tastes better in fresh, ionized air near the roar of falling water.

Ribbon_Falls

 

For any trail you choose to hike it is important to carry a map, consult and carry a good hiking guide, and obtain current trail conditions and forecasted weather from the Visitor Centre.  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 to avoid having search parties to look for you. Stay safe. 

Carry layers and pack everything you may need to enjoy a great day

 

 

 

 

Happy trails.

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Comments

Thanks for your comment, Leigh. It is true. There is a lifetime of hiking nearby in some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. In early season, we are driven by weather and the residual snow from winter. Normally, the Jumpingpound area is a good possibility for early season. Drumheller is often available sooner. When west Bragg Creek and Sheep River Valley gates open on May 15, traditional season openers like Powderface or Prairie Mountain are good bets. Further into the mountains, it would be expedient to seek out south and/or west facing trails with plenty of sun exposure . These will open first and a schedule can be planned to increase elevation as the snow line moves up. Hope that helps a bit. Bottom line. It's a bit of a crap shoot. I just take my best shot and remain thankful when I occasionally and often accidentally get it right.

Thanks for your comment, Mike. I would expect the short scramble to the first summit might still be wet. Nahahi Ridge is an excellent and popular hike. A colleague of mine recently completed a popular, early-season opener, Prairie Mountain, and reported the trail as dry all the way. So, it is game on and the south Calgary folks can enjoy the Sheep River Valley and West Bragg Creek as gates opened on May 15. Thanks for your comment, Mike.

I just hiked up to Nahahi Ridge yesterday and it was an excellent first of season hike. Snow is nearly all gone (few patches) but doesn't affect the hike. Its about a 600m ascent or further if you scramble the ridge up farther to a few more ridge peaks.

This is full of great info. I've done a couple of them but there's so much to discover in Kananaskis that I need a few summer's worth of weekends to deal with all these hikes. What's your suggestion for the best early season hike in Kananaskis?

Thanks for your comment, Mike. Mount Allan is an excellent summit on good trails. Another outstanding summit hosts the abandoned Cameron Fire Lookout at the top of Mount Burke. I suggest you check that one out the next time you are in south Kananaskis Highwood area west of Longview, Alberta. It is a memorable experience with some route finding at the beginning. Good aerobic workout. Fabulous views as one would expect from a fire lookout. Your website is very interesting with a variety of topical material, combined with excellent panoramic photos.

Hi Barry, thanks so much for all your articles and trail guides. I have done a handful of these with a few new ones now to explore thanks to your site. You have wonderful pictures and stories about your days in the wilderness and I've enjoyed reading many already. Mt Allan has been my favorite summit to date and I've got some plans for a few others this season. I too love photography and my weblink has many of my panoramas from hiking, if you want to take a glance.

The definitive guides for hikes in Kananaskis Country are Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guides. Look for the Fourth Edition. Three guides are readily available and one remains to be published. I am also a huge fan of books by Mike Potter. One of my favorites is 'Fire Lookouts' You cannot go wrong on getting spectacular views from a fire lookout, abandoned or otherwise. Another of Mike Potter's books deals with an assortment of fabulous ridge hikes. Here there are sustained views at altitude. Hope this is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to make a comment. Always appreciated.

Mount Allan and Galatea Lakes are definitely two of the best hikes in Kananaskis Country but there are others which will compete favorably. Everyone perceives a hike differently and there are so many variables. I am glad you are experiencing some of the most beautiful places on the planet and learning the ways of the wilderness. Good on you. Thanks for your comment, Jenny.

Thanks Barry for "10 More Great Kananaskis Trail Hikes". We did only two: Mt. Allan and Galatea Lakes. Wouldn't mind to do both hikes again.

Great article Barry! I'm just wondering what book I can buy that lists all of these hikes. I have Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies book but these hikes are not listed in my version. Thanks!

I'm wondering if you have ever hiked Junction Creek up over to Pickle Jar Lakes? We are planning on doing it soon and would like your opinion. Thanks!

No, Sheila, I have not.  I have not hiked in the Highwood area since the June 2013 floods.  My understanding is there has been significant damage throughout the area.  Personally, I would be inclined to fully research this route with Parks before making an attempt.  Junction Creek is a fairly significant drainage.

I read that Mount Allan Trail is closed until June 21st so that throws that hike out of the window as that is the day we will be leaving to return home. I was hoping perhaps you could recommend a good summit hike in the Kananaskis-Banff-Lake Louise area for June 11-18th. As I mentioned, we are planning to hike Mt. Bourgeau but I would like to add another. My wife is less experienced than me and a bit more timid with really loose scree and precarious ridges so there's the rub. I want to ease her into it if I can, and build her confidence hike after hike. Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

There are countless options.  Perhaps best to evaluate on arrival and select an option that seems reasonable post Mount Bourgeau.  Use a local hiking guide, a Gem Trek Map and Parks Visitor Centres to choose an appropriate hike.  I cannot make recommendations for people unless I know a lot of detail about experience, physical fitness and gear.  It would be irresponsible for me to do so.  Enjoy your experience and choose hikes that will be safe and memorable.  Weather can be fickle.  Layers.  Good Rocky Mountain hiking boots.

I used to live in Kananaskis, it is a magical wonderful place that earns a special spot in your heart if you truly take in all it has to offer. I am planning a trip with my dogs and my husband to show him the rockies and the wonders of K-country. I did a number of hikes and trails while living there and trying to remember which ones were the best. For sure Mt. Allan, (hopefully this time I won't run into a Grizzly!) and I think it was Galatea Lakes, hoping you can clarify for me. I remember a rocky section where there were ropes and chains that you had to use to get up a steep section, and seeing several bighorn at this point. Came out to a mountain lake where there was still glacial ice visible in the summertime. Not sure if we went on to the second lake or not, this was years ago. I do remember it being quite an incredible scene coming out to the lake. I also remember cliff jumping at Seebe....not sure if this is actually allowed, I was young and living 'the adventure' and we went to this spot to sunbathe and jump from the cliffs. Being climbers I want to take my husband to where I very first started climbing, Wasootch. Where is this located and I remember a short walk along the dry riverbed in to the rock walls. Perhaps you can give me some insight and advice and directions as it seems you know the area well. It is foggy for me and I always had friends along who knew where we were going. Hope to hear from you as this post was a while back. Any help or advice would be great. Thanks! Kristen

Kristen,

A lot of what you remember remains the same.  The 2013 flood event devastated many routes but many have been repaired and some are like entirely new hikes.

Get yourself two Gem Trek Maps for Canmore Kananaskis and Kananaskis Lakes.  These will cover most of your return to Kananaskis Country.

There are three posts on my blog for Mount Allan.  They are the summit from Ribbon Creek, the summit from Deadman's Flats and the full day, two car traverse.

You are confusing the Ribbon Creek to Ribbon Lake with the hike further south on Kananaskis Trail to Galatea Lakes.  Ribbon Creek is fully flood restored and more interesting from before.  The trail goes to Ribbon Falls then the extension climbs to the chains which deliver to Ribbon Lake.  Dogs here would be insanity and you will need to investigate which trails are dog friendly and which are not.  Do your research on the Kananaskis Country website.

Seebe is shut down for the diving activity but you may want to investigate the rafting trip.

Wasootch is much the same and clearly signed along Kananaskis Trail.  Again I have blogs on the area.  Just enter the word Wasootch in the search field and all pertinent posts will be presented to review.  Obtaining the book, 'Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies' will be beneficial with a large section on Wasootch routes as well as many others in the area.  You will be able to do a lot of your research on the Internet.

Good luck.  Stay safe.  Not sure where you are but admission to all National Parks is free in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th Birthday, in case you do not know.

 

Thank you for the info on hiking in Kananaskis, I have an active 7 year old that I go hiking with often. Are any of these kid friendly, and if not are there any that you would recommend? Thanks so much!

Tough call, Ashley.  Depends on the experience of the child, the nature of the day and the condition of the trail especially post flood. Galatea Lake would be too aggressive and likely Mount Allan is beyond the average 7 year old.  Memorial Lakes is unreasonable with significant distance over flood-damaged trail.  Ribbon Falls is about 22 KM return.  Suggest you get a hiking guide and a Gem Trek map.  These will be very helpful in making  a sensible decision.  After you research your hike, it is always wise to check in with the Visitor Center or the Park Ranger office to get current intel.  Progression is based on past experience and generally ramping up distance and elevation over time.  I cannot make recommendations without having a lot of information about personal experience, gear, etc.  Also peoples personal preference and past experience will weigh heavily towards future endeavors.  Good luck and stay safe.

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