Kananaskis Country has long been one of our favorite places to go for hiking. It’s a place where you can find hikes to satisfy all levels of fitness without having to look very hard. In this list of easy Kananaskis hikes you’ll find some of our favorites.
We’ve done these easy hikes in Kananaskis so many times with family and friends of all different ages. Being locals to the area, these are some our go-to hikes in Kananaskis to take visiting family out for the most impressive views while not overwhelming them on extra long hikes. We’ve also done all of these easy hikes with kids, from babies to school aged kids. These easy hiking trails in Kananaskis are ones we come back to year after year.
We have no doubt that you’ll find some of your favorite Kananaskis hikes in this list. And even more importantly, we hope that you’ll find some new adventures while exploring these easy trails in Kananaskis.
Kananaskis - Easy Hikes
- Kananaskis Easy Hikes
- 1. Grassi Lakes
- 2. Grotto Canyon
- 3. Heart Creek Trail
- 4. Heart Creek Bunker
- 5. Many Springs Interpretive Trail
- 6. Flowing Water Interpretive Trail
- 7. Montane Interpretive Trail
- 8. Middle Lake Interpretive Trail
- 9. Bow River Interpretive Trail
- 10. Widow Maker Trail
- 11. Troll Falls
- 12. Hay Meadow
- 13. Black Prince Cirque Interpretive Trail to Warspite Lake
- 14. Blackshale Suspension Bridge
- 15. Watridge Lake
- 16. Karst Spring (Add-On to Watridge Lake)
- What do you Need for Kananaskis Hiking
- More Kananaskis Hiking Trails We Recommend
- Banff Hiking Trails We Recommend
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Kananaskis Easy Hikes
1. Grassi Lakes
Distance: 4.0 km out & back
Elevation: 170 m
Grassi Lakes Trailhead
Grassi Lakes is often included in lists of the best things to do in Canmore with kids or easy Canmore walking trails, but it is technically located in Kananaskis. Regardless, the Grassi Lakes hike is a popular hike and for good reason; it’s one of the best easy hikes in Kananaskis. On a sunny day, the water color of the Grassi Lakes is simply incredible.
Hikers only need to hike 2 km to experience the incredible Grassi Lakes with their stunning blue-green color. And while there is some uphill climbing, it’s a fairly gentle incline along a wide gravel road.
Just past the start of the Grassi Lakes trail there is an option to take a more difficult trail, which can be combined with the easy path to make a loop. Take this Grassi Lakes trail to get some views on the way up, but be prepared for a very short, steep section on the way up.
Once at the top, take the time to marvel at the stunning Grassi Lakes and enjoy a slow meander around the lakes.
Please respect all the signs and stay on the path. There is a lot of area around the Grassi Lakes that is under restoration. In addition, with many towering rock cliffs, be aware that areas around the Grassi Lakes hike are rockfall hazards. Obey all “Area Closed” signs.
2. Grotto Canyon
Distance: 5.2 km out & back
Elevation: 259 m
Grotto Pond Day Use Area
The trail to Grotto Canyon starts out along an access road complete with a powerline and the Baymag magnesium oxide plant in the distance. Not the most scenic start to a hike. Don’t worry, this section is only about 0.8 km before the trail makes a right turn into the trees. After passing the bench and an open mountain view, you’ll soon enter Grotto Canyon and the first 0.8 km of the hike will be a distant memory.
As you enter Grotto Canyon, you’ll be following the creek upstream between two vertical cliffs. If you are hiking Grotto Canyon in spring you can expect a large portion of the hike to be jumping across the flowing creek.
Another fun part of Grotto Canyon is finding the pictographs. As you near the Grotto Canyon waterfalls, look to the left to see some pictographs of humans and animals, thought to be drawn between 500 – 1,300 years ago by the Hopituh Shi-nu-mu people (“Hopi” for short).
The Grotto Creek trail is also a fun ice walk in the winter.
Never hike in the canyon if there is a chance of heavy rain as the rushing water can bring rocks and debris along with it, making it extremely dangerous.
3. Heart Creek Trail
Distance: 4.7 km out & back
Elevation: 300 m
Heart Creek Parking Lot
The Heart Creek Trail is an enormously popular and easy Kananaskis hike. What makes the Heart Creek hike so popular is that it’s fun, easy and beautiful. Heart Creek trail has all of the elements that you need to make a hike appeal to everyone.
Hikers follow the path of the gently flowing Heart Creek into the belly of a dramatic mountain canyon, filled with large evergreen trees and boulders on the canyon floor. Keeping the trail interesting are the many wooden bridges that cross over Heart Creek time-and-again.
At the end of the Heart Creek hike is a very popular picnic spot. It’s a beautiful spot, next to a rock wall with a loud, hidden waterfall tucked just out of sight. There is a park bench here, with lots of spots to relax and enjoy the beauty of this special Kananaskis spot.
Heart Creek trail is also an easy winter hike in Kananaskis and we recommend experiencing this spot covered in a blanket of snow.
To avoid the crowds, hike Heart Creek early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on a weekday.
4. Heart Creek Bunker
Distance: 4 km out & back
Elevation: 212 m
Heart Creek Parking Lot
With Heart Creek trail being such a short hike, there’s still time to fit in the nearby by Bow Valley Bunker (aka Heart Creek Bunker). The Heart Creek Bunker leaves from the same parking lot as Heart Creek trail, but from the west end of the parking lot.
The Heart Creek bunker hike is another easy Kananaskis hike with a fun payoff. Hiking 2 km will take you to a Cold War era bunker carved deep into the side of Mount McGillivray.
Built in the 1960’s, the Heart Creek Bunker goes 55m deep into the mountain, with a side channel over 40m long. It was designed to protect the nation’s critical documents against a catastrophic emergency, such as a hydrogen bomb.
The Heart Creek bunker hike itself is nothing special, but venturing into the cold, damp and VERY dark cave is incredibly fun for everyone. Be sure everyone has their own powerful flashlight or headlamp – it’s really, really, really dark inside.
As an added bonus, if you catch it at the right time, you can also enjoy beautiful wildflowers along the trail.
5. Many Springs Interpretive Trail
Distance: 1.5 km loop
Many Springs Day Use
Found in the Bow Valley Provincial Park area of Kananaskis is the Many Springs Interpretive Trail. This easy Kananaskis hike can be paired up with the many other short hikes nearby.
If you’ve ever hiked Many Springs, you can attest to the fact that this short hike is immensely enjoyable and well worth it. After a short 0.3 km, you’ll turn either right or left to begin the loop around a spring fed pond. This trail should be popular with both wildflower enthusiasts and bird watchers.
Kids will also love this easy Kananaskis hike. The trail crosses a bridge over Many Springs Creek with impressive river and mountain views opposite the pond. From there a short jaunt takes you through the forest then onto a fun boardwalk across the wetlands.
On the other side, there’s a small dock where you can truly appreciate this beautiful area. It’s just a short distance from here to complete the loop and return back along the short spur trail to the parking lot.
6. Flowing Water Interpretive Trail
Distance: 2.3 km
Elevation: 79 m
Flowing Water Trailhead
Flowing Water Interpretive Trail is an easy hike in Kananaskis that packs a lot of scenery into a 3 km loop. With views of the Kananaskis River and nearby mountains like Mount Yamnuska and Yates Mountain, you’ll enjoy this short hike the entire way.
The first part of this trail passes through a forest along a creek through the campsite before reaching the official Flowing Water Interpretive Trail sign. At this point, the trail continues along a section up above the banks of the Kananaskis River and where the trees open up you get views of the river in both directions.
It continues up a short uphill with some stairs to make the slope a little easier, before revealing a stunning view point. From there it descends back down through an aspen forest and eventually to a beaver pond. It continues along a boardwalk, with unobstructed mountain views, before returning to the trailhead.
7. Montane Interpretive Trail
Distance: 1.6 km loop
Elevation: 58 m
The Montane Interpretive Trail is a kid-friendly Kananaskis hike that packs a ton of excellent scenery in a very short distance of 1.6 km.
Hiking the Montane trail begins in a mixed forest of evergreens and aspens, followed by a series of open meadows. The first of many interpretive signs appears here describing life for the flora and fauna of the montane ecosystem of the Bow Valley Provincial Park.
It’s not long before you’ll find yourself reentering the forest before a scenic viewpoint with a bench. The remainder of the hike stays in the forest.
The Montane trailhead is at the Bow Valley Administration & Information Centre. It’s easy to find as it’s the first thing you’ll pass (on your right) shortly after you enter Bow Valley Provincial Park off Highway 1X.
One benefit of hiking the Montane trail is that the Bow Valley paved pathway starts from the same parking lot. This easy bike ride in Kananaskis is the perfect addition to the short hike on the Montane trail.
For anyone camping in Kananaskis that same paved pathway connects the Montane trail to the Bow Valley Campground at the side of the camp store. This is a fun and scenic bike ride that is well worth it.
8. Middle Lake Interpretive Trail
Distance: 2.5 km loop
Elevation: 85 m
Middle Lake trailhead
The Middle Lake Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park is an enjoyable easy Kananaskis hike. Hikers along the Middle Lake Trail will enjoy a variety of landscapes including a mountain lake and a pleasant forest setting.
Hike this easy Bow Valley Provincial Park trail on a calm day and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning mountain reflection on the lake. Late spring will reward hikers with wildflowers. Hiking this short Kananaskis hike in the fall, the mountain reflection gets a pop of color with the changing leaves of the aspen trees.
Once the Middle Lake trail enters the forest, you’ll appreciate the nice shade from the evergreens as the trail starts to climb very gently.
As you leave the forest behind after 1.9km of hiking, you reach the shores of the lake again. There are a few benches along the trail to stop and enjoy the excellent Kananaskis views before finishing up this 2.5 km loop. The Middle Lake trailhead is found in the Middle Lake day use area Bow Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis.
9. Bow River Interpretive Trail
Distance: 5.6 km loop
Elevation: 122 m
Whitefish Day Use
The Bow River Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley Provincial Park is a very enjoyable hike along the banks of the Bow River.
The Bow River trail can be hiked as an out-and-back trail or combined with other Bow Valley hiking trails to make hiking loop along the Bow River and through the interesting montane forests this part of Kananaskis is known for.
We combine the Bow River trail with the Whitefish trail, the Elk Flats trail and the Moraine trail. Trust us, it’s well signed and not as complicated as it sounds. Turning the Bow River trail into a 5.6 km loop provides you with significantly more variety in Kananaskis scenery than simply hiking the Bow River trail as an out-and-back.
Our iteration of the Bow River hike begins in the beautiful Whitefish Day Use area. Take a few moments to linger by the shores of the Bow River and admire the Rocky Mountain scenery which draws people to this area from all over the world. From this vantage point, you can see unimpeded mountains from Mt. Yamnuska all the way to Canmore’s Three Sisters.
From the Whitefish Day Use, complete the 5.6km loop by following the 0.4km Whitefish Trail, the 1.1km Moraine Interpretive Trail, the 1.9km Elk Flats Trail and finishing up on the 2.1km Bow River Interpretive Trail.
10. Widow Maker Trail
Distance: 4.2 km out & back
Elevation: 128 m
Widow Maker Trail at Canoe Meadows Day Use
The Widow Maker hike is an easy hike in Kananaskis that takes you along the banks of the Kananaskis River. It’s an out and back hike that can be reached from three separate parking lots: Canoe Meadows Day Use, Barrier Lake Visitor Center or the Widow Maker parking lot.
We recommend parking at the Canoe Meadows Day Use for this easy Kananaskis hike. The Widow Maker trail is 4.2 km from the Canoe Meadows Day Use to the Widow Maker parking lot. The Widow Maker hiking trail leaves from the far end of the parking lot past the toilets and starts in the trees.
The hike itself is an easy hike that meanders along the bank of the river. It has some pretty views of the river along the way. This Kananaskis hike does have some steep drop offs and gets close to the fast moving river, so always keep an eye on kids and keep them close.
While this is a short hike, plan some extra time because watching the river surfers, kayakers and whitewater rafters along this trail is the real highlight. As you approach the Widow Maker parking lot, go down the hill instead of up to the parking lot, to watch kayakers practicing in the rapids. Hikers can even watch slalom canoe/kayak racers near the campground at the Canoe Meadows Whitewater Training Centre.
When we hiked back to Canoe Meadows Day Use, we went left at the road instead of continuing on the trail to take is along the banks where the slalom race course is set up. This took us through the tent sites and back to the parking lot.
The Canoe Meadows Day Use has a large parking lot, a picnic area and toilets. The Canoe Meadows campground is also located here. It’s has group camping and individual walk-in tent sites that can be booked on the Alberta Whitewater Association site for anyone interested in a Kananaskis camping.
11. Troll Falls
Distance: 3.5 km out & back
Elevation: 110 m
Troll Falls Trailhead Day Use
Troll Falls is one of the best and easy hikes in Kananaskis. The only real knock on Troll Falls is its popularity. The short 3.5 km Troll Falls hike near Kananaskis Village has a little bit of everything. The wide trail takes you along a forested trail that opens up partway through for some mountain views.
The nice wide trail makes this an excellent kid friendly hike in Kananaskis. Kids will have plenty of room to play the entire way. There are also a couple of teepees that kids will enjoy playing in.
From there you’ll descend down across bridge then through an aspen forest, which makes it a very pretty fall hike in Kananaskis.
The trail narrows after this point up until the waterfall. There’s a newly built viewing deck to see the impressive waterfall at a safe distance. There’s the option to venture to the upper falls as well, before turning back.
The Troll Falls is technically an out-and-back trail, but it can be combined with the Hay Meadow trail to make it a 4 km loop.
Troll Falls is a year-round hike and hiking Troll Falls in the winter is well worth it to see the frozen waterfall.
12. Hay Meadow
Distance: 3 km out & back
Troll Falls Trailhead Day Use
The Hay Meadow trail leaves from the same parking lot as Troll Falls and Stoney Trail, both of which can be combined with the Hay Meadow trail to make a loop. Hay Meadow trail starts underneath the power lines across from the Troll Falls trailhead. The Hay Meadow trailhead is marked by a faded green sign with an arrow and a “no horses” sign.
The easy Kananaskis hiking trail starts out in the forest along a nice flat and wide trail. In fact, the entire length of the Hay Meadow Trail is so flat, you’ll barely notice an elevation change.
Not long into the hike you’ll reach the Kananaskis Golden Eagle migration count site. Here you’ll find some interesting interpretive signs about the annual Golden Eagle migration count which occurs at this spot between March 1 – April 22 every year.
If you wish to increase your odds of seeing a Golden Eagle migrate through Kananaskis on its way to the Yukon or Alaska, try to visit this site late afternoon when the Golden Eagle activity is highest. For more information on the annual Golden Eagle count in Kananaskis, visit eaglewatch.ca. Please consider making a donation to help keep this important Golden Eagle migration study going.
The Hay Meadow trail continues along the shores of the Kananaskis River with impressive mountain views and a meadow on your left. Eventually it veers left and will intersect with Stoney Trail (where the powerline runs) with views of The Wedge (2,667m) to the left, while to the right you’ll be treated to equally nice views of Mt. Lorette (2,469m).
Shortly after, you’ll intersect with Troll Falls. You can continue on Troll Falls to make a loop or return back the way you came.
13. Black Prince Cirque Interpretive Trail to Warspite Lake
Distance: 4.8 km loop
Elevation: 178 m
Black Prince Day Use parking lot
The Black Prince Cinque Interpretive Trail is one of two easy Kananaskis hikes that leaves from the Black Prince Day Use parking lot. The Black Prince Cirque Interpretive Trail, which may also be called the Warspite Lake hike, leaves right from the parking lot.
This easy Kananaskis hiking trail starts out along the Warspite Creek and crosses a bridge before veering to the left. After a short distance you’ll turn right and the climbing starts up an old logging road. Though the uphill climb it isn’t all that long, it will still get your heart pumping. There’s a bridge near the top to take a break.
Once the Black Prince Cirque trail levels off, the trail is much narrower and will take you along a loop through a boulder field and to Warspite Lake. This mountain lake with stunning mountain peaks as the backdrop is more than worth the effort!
Once you return back to the starting point on the loop, turn right and head back down the way you came.
14. Blackshale Suspension Bridge
Distance: 6.1 km out & back
Elevation: 333 m
Black Prince Day Use parking lot
The Black Shale Suspension Bridge is accessed from the High Rockies Trail, across the Smith-Dorrien Highway from the Black Prince day use parking lot. While most won’t have much to say about the actual hike to the bridge, we think it’s a pleasant walk along an undulating trail in the forest. While the views are sparse, a trail like this one that’s mostly in the forest is a good choice for a windy day.
The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is a fun reward at the end of the hike, but you don’t have to stop there. Once at the bridge, you can continue along the High Rockies trail as long as you want or turn back to complete the Blackshale Suspension Bridge hike.
The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is quickly becoming a very popular thing to do in Kananaskis Country. The suspension bridge can get very crowded with hikers taking their time crossing the wobbly bridge and taking pictures. Be aware there is a safety limit of 20 people on the suspension bridge at any time. To avoid the crowds, get there as early as possible.
The suspension bridge over Blackshale Creek is closed in the winter, so Alberta Parks built a bypass trail allowing you to continue along the High Rockies Trail without using the bridge.
Many people use this shortcut to visit the Kananaskis suspension bridge. Using the High Rockies winter bypass trail shortens the round-trip distance of the hike to the Blackshale Suspension Bridge from 6.1 km to just 1 km, however we find the walk through the forest enjoyable and recommend doing it that way.
15. Watridge Lake
Distance: 8.6 km out & back
Elevation: 194 m
Mt Shark Day Use
The Watridge Lake Trail leaves from the Mt Shark Day Use area just off the Smith-Dorrien Highway. This trail is flat and wide, making it a good hike for families or groups. While wide trails or roads often get a bad rap amongst hikers, this one is quite pleasant with impressive mountain views along the way.
The trail to Watridge Lake can also be done by bike and is a fun kid-friendly bike trail in Kananaskis. While Watridge Lake itself is quite beautiful and is worth the effort, adding on the Karst Spring trail is what makes this hike truly spectacular.
We highly recommend adding on the extra 0.8 km up the steep trail to Karst Spring. The Karst Spring trail can not be done without doing the hike to Watridge Lake first. This is the access to the the Karst Spring trail.
16. Karst Spring (Add-On to Watridge Lake)
Distance: 1.6 km out & back for Karst Spring PLUS 8.6 km out & back to reach this trail
Elevation: 103 m
Karst Spring Trailhead
While we’d never have a bad thing to say about the trail to Watridge Lake from the Mt Shark Day Use, the real attraction of this hike is to get to Karst Spring.
The Karst Spring trail portion adds on an extra 1.6 km out & back (for a total of 10.2 km) and is steep in spots. After taking in the stunning lake views, walk along the wooden platforms to cross the marsh.
Please stay on the boardwalks at all times and bikes are NOT allowed past Watridge Lake. You’ll need to lock them up before continuing on to Karst Spring.
Once you pass the marsh left over from the Karst Spring, you enter the forest. You’ll notice the significant drop in temperature at this point as you approach the forceful Karst Spring waterfall. The force of the water flowing down is impressive! Continue to follow the trail to the top where you’ll find some interpretive signs and the start of the Karst Spring gushing out of the side of Mt. Shark.
What do you Need for Kananaskis Hiking
You’ll find the remoteness of Kananaskis will often leave you without a cell signal, which means you need to be prepared in advance:
- Get the AllTrails app and download your maps before venturing out for the day.
- Research your Kananaskis easy hiking trail to make sure it’s within your physical capabilities.
- Hike with a group.
- Always let someone know where you’ll be and when you should be expected back.
- Bring bear spray in a holster and know wildlife safety.
- Pack plenty of water and high energy food for the day.
- Always bring extra layers. What can start out as a hot summer day at the trailhead can quickly turn to high winds and even snow at higher elevations.
- Wear proper hiking shoes or boots. The Kananaskis hiking trails are rocky with plenty of tree roots, making it easy to roll an ankle or slip.
- Work your way up gradually to harder Kananaskis hikes.
- Bring a camera, you won’t regret it.
We have all our recommended hiking gear for hiking in Kananaskis here.
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More Kananaskis Hiking Trails We Recommend
Banff Hiking Trails We Recommend
- 22 Kid Friendly Hikes in Banff
- 9 Easy Hikes in Banff
- Johnston Canyon Hike
- Tunnel Mountain Hike
- Johnson Lake Hike
- Stewart Canyon Hike
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.
As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.