7 Easy Kananaskis Snowshoe Trails

|

Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies is one of the best ways to get out and experience the beauty of these majestic mountains in the winter. Imagine being on the quiet mountain trails with large snowflakes falling and having the feeling of being in a Christmas snow globe. It really doesn’t get any more peaceful than that and you might even start calling the Kananaskis snowshoe trails your happy place.

best snowshoe trails in Kananaskis

This post contains compensated links.

If you’ve never snowshoed before, don’t be scared off by the idea of wearing those old wooden snowshoes, snowshoes these days are very different. They are light and have a claw on the bottom to give you some grip as you climb on harder snowshoe trails. It really is something that can be done by anyone!

One thing that might surprise you is that you will still sink into the snow and breaking trail is hard work, but snowshoeing in Kananaskis is popular enough that many of these trails will already be packed down! If you are ever wondering how much your snowshoes help – just take one off and take a step.

kananaskis snowshoeing

Before you head out on your first snowy adventure in Kananaskis snowshoeing, remember that trail etiquette exists in the winter as well and make sure to follow any cautions or closures on the trails.

Here are a few beginner snowshoe tips before you strap on your snowshoes:

  • Share the trails and stay off groomed cross-country ski trails. It’s best to step over the cross-country ski trails and always walk to the side if you are venturing on a shared trail.

  • Keep dogs on leash.

  • Know the dangers, like how to be safe around wildlife and be educated about where you are going and any avalanche risks.

  • Check the snowshoe conditions for the trail before you go.

  • If you need any additional information, stop at the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre along AB-40 (Highway 40).

  • Have fun! Play in the deep snow and enjoy feeling like a kid again!

Easy Kananaskis Snowshoe Trails

One of our favorite places to get out snowshoeing: Kananaskis! You’re not likely to find big crowds, the snow is usually plentiful and there are some great trails for all levels of snowshoeing. Kananaskis is easily accessible from Banff, Canmore or Calgary and you can find snowshoe rentals in any of those locations.

Hogarth Lakes Snowshoe

kananaskis snowshoe trails - hogarth lakes snowshoe

Hogarth Lakes is a great option for newcomers to snowshoeing. This 3.9 km loop is over flat terrain through a series of frozen lakes. Take the opportunity to play in the deeper snow along the trail to test out your snowshoes. The only caution with this trail is to go when the lakes are frozen – nobody wants to be snowshoeing with a cold wet foot that went through some ice!

Hogarth Lakes snowshoe leaves from the Burstall Pass parking lot on the Smith-Dorrien (AB-742). From the end of the parking lot, opposite the entrance, follow the path along the lake and look for your first sign leading to the right.

To get a copy of the Hogarth Lakes trail map on your phone, get the GAIA GPS app and search for “Hogarth Lakes Loop“.

hogarth lakes loop snowshoe

How to get to Hogarth Lakes Loop Snowshoe:

From Calgary, take Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit and turn right onto Kananaskis Trail. Follow AB-40 for approximately 50 km then take a right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. After 2 km, take a right turn onto the Smith-Dorrien and follow it for 20 km until you see the sign for the Burstall Pass parking lot on the left.

From Banff, turn off the Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) into Canmore then take the Spray Lakes Rd (AB742) which will become the Smith-Dorrien, for approximately 43 km. There will be signs for the Burstall Pass parking lot on the right.

Troll Falls Snowshoe

Troll falls in Kananaskis

Troll Falls is a popular trail all year round for hiking and snowshoeing. In fact, it’s so popular that unless you are there shortly after a snowfall, you might find spikes to be a better option than snowshoes. The Troll Falls trail is popular for good reason, this 1.7 km (one way) trail takes you right to the base of a frozen waterfall. The trail starts out nice and wide with very little elevation gain until the final portion through the trees where it narrows. This is a great trail with kids.

For a Troll Falls trail map, search for “Troll Falls” on GAIA GPS.

Troll Falls trail in Kananaskis

How to get to Troll Falls Snowshoe:

Take the Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit. Turn off AB-40 towards Kananaskis Village. Just past is the Kananaskis Village turn off, on the right, is the Troll Falls parking lot.

Wintour Snowshoe

Snowshoeing down a road doesn’t always give you that sense of being in nature, but you’ll still get some decent views along this trail. Kananaskis Trail (AB-40), also commonly known as Highway 40, closes from Kananaskis Lakes Trail to Hwy 541 annually from December to June.

The Wintour trail starts at the Highway #40 Winter Gate and continues for 5.1km, but you can really just go as long as you want then turn back. This is a great trail if you are pulling a chariot or snowshoeing in a group.

The trailhead is on the road just past the barrier.

Note: This is the only trail in this list without a toilet at the trail head.

How to get to Wintour Snowshoe:

From the Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) take the Kananaskis Trail exit onto AB-40 (Highway 40). Follow Highway 40 until the closure. Park in the King Creek Day Use area.

snowshoe trail marker in kananaskis

Lower Lake Snowshoe

The Lower Lake snowshoe trail is a 3.9 km one way trail that follows the shoreline of Lower Kananaskis Lake. It’s a flat trail that makes it easy with a moderate distance. If you are looking for a longer snowshoe, the Lower Lake snowshoe trail will connect up with the Marsh Loop snowshoe trail. Otherwise come back the same way.

How to get to the Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe:

Take Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit and turn right onto Kananaskis Trail. Follow AB-40 for approximately 50 km then take a right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail until you see signs for the Canyon Day Use on the right (approximately 6 km). Follow the road to the parking lot.

The Lower Lakes Snowshoe leaves from the same parking lot as the Penstock loop and the trailhead for the Lower Lake snowshoe is near the entrance to the parking lot.

Penstock Loop Snowshoe

Penstock Loop Snowshoe Trail Kananaskis

One of our all time favorite Kananaskis snowshoeing trails and one we do every year is the 4.5 km Penstock Loop. Though relatively easy when the snow is packed down, if you find yourself to be the first ones on the trail after a big snowfall you’ll have a different opinion.

The Penstock Loop starts across the road near the toilets and then across the bridge onto the area to the left overlooking Lower Kananaskis Lake (it’s well marked). From up on the dam, you have the choice to continue left or right down the slope (depending on how you want to do the loop). Most people go right down through the trees.

The trail is predominantly in the trees except the last portion up along the lake. It also crosses the Smith-Dorrien highway, so be cautious looking for cars before venturing across.

How to get to the Penstock Loop Snowshoe:

Take Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit and turn right onto Kananaskis Trail. Follow AB-40 for approximately 50 km then take a right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail until you see signs for the Canyon Day Use on the right (approximately 6 km). Follow the road to the parking lot.

Sawmill Loop Snowshoe

kananaskis snowshoe trails

The Sawmill Snowshoe Loop is one of the more difficult ones on this list of easy snowshoe trails in Kananaskis, but it’s short enough that we’ve included it. This 5.1 km loop starts on a forested trail that soon starts to climb. Elevation gain on this one is 508 ft along a forested trail with some views of the valley. But once at the top, it’s all downhill back to the parking lot.

The Sawmill Loop starts right from the Sawmill Day Use parking lot at the far end past the toilets. The Graupel connector trail also leaves from this parking lot, so make sure to follow the signs.

To get a Sawmill Trail Map on your phone, search for ” Sawmill Loop Trail Loop” on GAIA GPS.

kananaskis snowshoe trails - Sawmill Loop Snowshoe

How to get to the Sawmill Loop Snowshoe:

From Calgary, take Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit and turn right onto Kananaskis Trail. Follow AB-40 for approximately 50 km then take a right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. After 2 km, take a right turn onto the Smith-Dorrien and follow it for 14 km until you see the sign for the Sawmill parking lot on the right.

From Banff, turn off the Trans-Canada Highway into Canmore then take the Spray Lakes Rd (AB742) which will become the Smith-Dorrien, for approximately 45 km. There will be signs for the Sawmill parking lot on the Left.

Elkwood Loop Snowshoe

easy snowshoe trails in Kananaskis

Another great trail for beginners to snowshoeing is the Elkwood Loop snowshoe trail. It leaves from the Elkwood Campground parking lot. This trail can be done from the William Watson Lodge, which will add an additional 0.7 km to the 3.4 km loop. Cross over the cross-country ski trails, being careful not to step on them, and follow the trail map and signs to the snowshoe trail. This trail will take you through a forested area, the Elkwood Campground and past Marl Lake. The perfect spot to enjoy the views and play in the deep snow.

Elkwood Loop Snowshoe Trail Kananaskis

How to get to the Elkwood Loop Snowshoe:

Take Trans-Canada Highway (AB-1) to the Kananaskis Trail (AB-40) exit and turn right onto Kananaskis Trail. Follow AB-40 for approximately 50 km then take a right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail until you see signs for the Elkwood Campground on the left (approximately 6 km).

Where to rent snowshoes:

If you are visiting the area, it’s easiest to rent your snowshoes the evening before you plan to head out. With snowshoes in hand you can leave at your leisure in the morning without having to take time to visit the rental shop first.

Canmore snowshoe rental

If you live in the area, we recommend renting your first time out snowshoeing. Once you are convinced that it’s something you’ll be doing more often, then pick up your own pair of snowshoes!

Found this post useful? Save it or share it with your friends!

Experience the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains on these 7 easy snowshoe trails in Kananaskis.
Previous

Hiking Karst Spring Trail in Kananaskis Country

Johnston Canyon Hike in Banff National Park

Next