The 15 Best Hikes in Kananaskis

Author: Celine Brewer

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Whether you’ve come to visit Banff National Park or live nearby, hiking in Kananaskis will leave you wanting to come back for more. With jaw dropping views, we’d consider many of these to be the best hikes in Kananaskis.

While we think that the views from these Kananaskis hikes are more than worth it, there’s more than that! From waterfalls to stunning mountain lakes to alpine meadows filled with wildflowers, the incredible beauty and variety of these hikes is what makes Kananaskis one of the best places for hiking.

While there are plenty more amazing hikes, you won’t want to miss these 13 Kananaskis hiking trails.

View from Sarrail Ridge hike

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Why Hike in Kananaskis Country

hiking in kananaskis country

Kananaskis Country is one of our favorite places to hike. It’s much easier to escape the crowds of Banff National Park and find quiet hiking trails.

With the closer proximity of these Kananaskis hikes to Calgary and Canmore, it’s definitely a locals favorite place to hike. While no one can dispute the incredible views you can get in Banff, you’ll find equally breathtaking views in Kananaskis.

Kananaskis Hikes You Don’t Want to Miss

This isn’t an extensive list of hikes in Kananaskis, nor are these ALL the best hiking trails in Kananaskis. This is a list of hikes that everyone should do at least once. Each one provides something different, whether it’s a mountain lake, stunning mountain views or both.

1. Ha Ling Peak Trail

ha ling peak elevation 2408m above sea level

You’re likely to find Ha Ling Peak and EEOR (below) on every list of the best hikes in Kananaskis. What makes these so great? You can’t beat the views of the Canadian Rockies! While hiking up Ha Ling will get your blood pumping, that uphill climb is well worth it.

We’ve seen people of all fitness levels complete the Ha Ling Peak hike. While it can take some perseverance, one step at a time will get you there. The trail is easy to follow and it has a great reward. Just be cautious going past the saddle where you’ll be hiking on loose rocks and never venture too close to the edge.

With this hike being so close to Canmore, you can reward yourself with some delicious Canmore ice cream in town after your efforts!

Distance: 8 km out and back

Elevation: 801 m

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For more pictures and important information about our favorite Kananaskis hike, check out our full blog post on the Ha Ling Peak Hike.

2. Wind Ridge Hike

The Wind Ridge hike is one of the best Canmore hikes

One of our all time favorite Kananaskis hiking trails is hiking Wind Ridge. We’ve done this Kananaskis hike several times and it never fails to impress us. In 2020, we were excited to finally able to take our kids up this difficult day hike in Kananaskis.

The Wind Ridge hiking trail passes through a lush forest before climbing to an alpine meadow. Be sure to time this hike when the mountain wildflowers are in bloom. Hiking through the alpine meadow with the mountain views will leave you breathless.

Note: The Wind Ridge trail is closed every year from December 1 to June 15 to protect critical winter range habitat for elk and bighorn sheep.

Distance: 12.7km out and back

Elevation: 950m

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The mountain views and wildflowers on this amazing Kananaskis hike are second-to-none. Find out more in our full post on the Wind Ridge Trail.

3. Mount Yamnuska Trail

a hiker uses a trekking pole for stability on the steep descent from the Mt. Yamnuska summit

The Mount Yamnuska Trail is one of the most popular hikes in Kananaskis Country. There are many different versions of this Kananaskis hike, ranging from a traditional hike through a beautiful aspen forest to a challenging scramble with via ferrata elements along the backside the mountain to the summit.

The full version of the Mt. Yamnuska hiking trail to the summit is challenging, but recent upgrades to the trail by Albert Parks have made it more accessible. That said, there are more rescues per year on the Mt. Yamnuska trail than on any other mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Distance: 11 km loop

Elevation: 896 m elevation gain

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Before deciding to do the full loop version of this immensely popular Kananaskis hike, we recommend you read our post on the Mt. Yamnuska Trail to ensure it is right for you.

4. Miners Peak

The ridge along the top of the Miners Peak trail offers spectacular views of the Bow Valley and Spray Valley simultaneously

While you’ll often see hiking Ha Ling Peak recommended on lists of best Kananaskis hikes, little is said about Miners Peak. While we think Ha Ling Peak is one of the best hiking trails in Kananaskis, if time permits, we recommend hiking to Miners Peak as well.

It’s little additional effort to hike up Miners Peak after you’ve already made it up to the saddle of the Ha Ling Peak hiking trail, but it’s quieter and the views are equally spectacular. In addition, you’ll get one of the best views of Ha Ling Peak.

Distance: 8.1km out and back

Elevation: 829m

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In a lot of ways, we like this Kananaskis hike better than its neighbour Ha Ling. Find out why in our full post on the Miners Peak trail.

5. East End of Rundle Trail (EEOR)

A female hiker nears the top of the East End of Rundle trail - a popular hike in Kananaskis near Canmore, Alberta

After the view of Ha Ling Peak from Miners Peak, you can get an equally jaw dropping view from this Kananaskis hike. Hiking up EEOR (East End of Rundle) is also some of the best hiking in Kananaskis.

The higher you climb hiking EEOR the better the views get! Even with those incredible mountain views, hiking EEOR can be challenging especially when it comes to finding the trail. We highly recommend using the AllTrails app for this hike.

Distance: 5.6km out and back

Elevation: 877m

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Staying on the trail can be difficult on this challenging Kananaskis hike. Get links for the trail map and much more in our post on the East End of Rundle Trail.

6. Wasootch Ridge Hike

Hiking Wasootch Ridge Kananaskis

At the risk of calling all the Kananaskis hikes our favorites, the Wasootch Ridge hike definitely makes that list. We first hiked the Wasootch Ridge trail some 10 years ago and fell in love with the incredible mountain views.

We’ve returned to this Kananaskis hike several times over the years, continuing to enjoy it each time as much as the last. After a steep grind through the forest, you reach the ridge and hikers are treated to stunning mountain views the entire time.

To complete the full hike will take some scrambling on the final peaks. We, like most hikers, have turned around at the 5.2 km mark usually due to a time constraint. But don’t worry, you’ll get the best part of the hike even if you don’t go to the Wasootch Ridge summit.

Distance: 13.8 km out-and-back

Elevation: 975 m elevation gain

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The non-stop views of the Canadian Rockies on this hike is why it ranks so high on our list of the best hikes in Kananaskis Country. Check out more pictures on our full blog post on the Wasootch Ridge Trail.

7. Heart Creek Trail

Kids love the Heart Creek hike near Banff

The Heart Creek Trail is one of the most popular Kananaskis hiking trails, and for good reason. A fun, easy and beautiful hike, the Heart Creek Trail is one of the best kid-friendly hikes near Canmore.

The Heart Creek Trail follows the path of a gentle creek deep into the belly of a dramatic mountain canyon. The best part of this easy Kananaskis hike is crossing fun, little wooden bridges over the creek time-and-again.

Distance: 4.7 km out and back

Elevation: 300m

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As great as this fun Kananaskis hike is, there’s a bonus hike from the same parking lot which is a ton of fun. Get all the details in our post on the Heart Creek Trail.

8. Grassi Lakes Trail

Grassi Lakes is an easy hike in Kananaskis with a great pay off. This short Kananaskis hike is very popular on weekends as it’s the perfect family friendly hike. The trail is wide and being only 4 km, it can be done by most everyone.

Up at the top, you’ll be rewarded with views of the most stunning turquoise lakes. Hiking Grassi Lakes is also possible in the winter and is one of the best easy Canmore winter hikes. This family friendly hike in Kananaskis is busy enough that any snow will be packed down quickly requiring only winter boots (or possibly microspikes if the trail gets icy).

Grassi Lakes does have two different routes. If you prefer, you can do both trails as a loop. To improve your views, we recommend doing the harder trail on the way up and the easy trail on the way down.

Note: The Grassi Lakes difficult route is closed in the winter.

Distance: 4.0 km out and back

Elevation: 170m

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This family-friendly Kananaskis hike is very popular, so get there early. For even more tips on how to best enjoy this easy hike, check out our full post on the Grassi Lakes Trail.

9. Blackshale Suspension Bridge Hike

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis Country is a popular kid-friendly hike

Another one of the easy hikes in Kananaskis is the hike to the Blackshale Suspension bridge. While you can park along the Smith-Dorrien (highway 742) and make this a short 1 km hike, we recommend hiking to the Blackshale Suspension bridge from the Black Prince Day Use parking lot. From the parking lot you’ll cross the Smith-Dorrien and start the 6km hike along the High Rockies Trail.

The trail undulates through the forest and while there may not be much to see, it’s a pleasant walk amongst the trees that eventually opens up the reveal the Blackshale Suspension Bridge.

Note: The Suspension Bridge is closed in the winter, but there is a bypass trail if you’d like to continue further along the High Rockies Trail.

Distance: 6.1 km out and back

Elevation: 333m

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There are two versions of this very popular Kananaskis hike. Find out which is right for you in our full post on the Blackshale Suspension Bridge Hike.

10. Chester Lake Hike

a child stands on top of an elephant rock on the Chester Lake hike in Kananaskis

While Chester Lake may be one of the more popular hiking trails in Kananaskis, it’s for good reason. Hiking to Chester Lake is always on our list of hikes to do in Kananaskis, at least once a season. The Chester Lake trail meanders up through the forest and pays off hikers with stunning views at the top.

In the summer, we enjoy the nice wide trail for this family friendly hike in Kananaskis. A picnic along Chester Lake is the perfect way to enjoy a warm afternoon in the summer in Kananaskis. For some extra fun, check out the nearby Elephant Rocks.

In the fall, the Chester Lake hike makes a great alternate larch tree hike in Kananaskis.

Chester Lake also makes a great winter hike in Kananaskis once the snow has been packed down. If there’s been a recent snowfall, plan to pack snowshoes and enjoy snowshoeing to Chester Lake. The meadow at the top is the perfect place to play in the deep snow.

Note: As part of an ongoing Kananaskis trail closures program, the Chester Lake hike is closed every year from May 1 to June 29 to allow the area to dry and prevent damage.

Distance: 9.0 km out and back

Elevation: 310m

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It’s hard to believe that this hike is #10 on our list of the best Kananaskis hikes – it’s an incredible hike and speaks to the quality of hikes in the region! For more info, check out our post on the Chester Lake hike.

11. Karst Spring Trail

Dan and Celine Brewer, owners of TravelBanffCanada.com, sit with their dogs near Karst Springs Trail in Kananaskis Country.

Hiking the Watridge Lake Trail to Karst Spring is one of the best spring hikes in Kananaskis. The Watridge Lake Trails is wide, making it a family friendly hike in Kananaskis. If walking along the wide road doesn’t appeal to you, the Watridge Lake Trail is also an easy Kananaskis bike trail.

Along Watridge Lake Trail, you’ll get some impressive mountain views and Watridge Lake itself is beautiful. If you’ve ridden bikes to Watridge Lake, it’s time to park them and continue on the Karst Spring Trail by foot. The raging waterfall at the end of the Karst Spring Trail is well worth the effort.

We also recommend the Watridge Lake Trail in winter, which can be cross country skied, snowshoed or even fatbiked.

Distance: 10.2 km out and back

Elevation: 194m

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The natural spring at the end of this hike is so powerful, it could easily be the most impressive natural attraction in Kananaskis Country. See more in our full post on the Karst Spring Trail.

12. Yates Mountain Trail

Yates Mountain Trail is often known as Prairie View Trail or Barrier Lake Fire Lookout Trail

A popular and rewarding hike from the Barrier Lake day use area, the Yates Mountain Trail is one of the best hikes in Kananaskis.

The Yates Mountain Trail offers a wide variety of scenery, ranging from a lakeside stroll along Barrier Lake, through dense forest and viewpoints with outstanding views of Barrier Lake and the stunning Rocky Mountains of Kananaskis Valley.

Given the Yates Mountain Trail is on the south side of the mountain, it gets lots of sun making it a nice option for a spring hike in Kananaskis.

Distance: 12.3 km out and back (option for a 15.9km loop)

Elevation: 601m

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This is the best hiking trail from the very popular Barrier Lake day use area. Get all the details in our full blog post on the Yates Mountain Trail.

13. Rawson Lake Trail

Rawson Lake - best Kananaskis hikes

Rawson Lake is one of the best easy to moderate hikes in Kananaskis. It’s not often you get to enjoy not one, but two incredible Kananaskis lakes in the same hike!

Starting along the Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail, it’s hard to tear yourself away from the mountain reflections on the lake in the morning. The peacefulness of the Upper Lake in the morning makes you want to take it slow and hang around for a while.

While the Upper Kananaskis Lake trail starts off easy, you’ll soon reach some steeper sections after the junction to Rawson Lake. Keep going though, because the views at Rawson Lake are more than worth the effort!

Distance: 7.8 km out and back

Elevation: 320m

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I’ve been hiking to Rawson Lake for decades and I’m always excited to go back. Find out why in our full blog post on the Rawson Lake Trail.

14. Sarrail Ridge Trail

Sarrail Ridge Hike - Kananaskis

If you have some energy after Rawson Lake, head up to Sarrail Ridge. This continuation of the hike is best for seasoned hikers in good shape.

You reach the Sarrail Ridge hike via Rawson Lake trail. You may not enjoy the steep climb (and by steep, we mean straight up!), but the views at the top of Sarrail Ridge will have you forgetting all about your burning legs.

Distance: 11.3 km out and back

Elevation: 675m

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This is a short and very steep Kananaskis hike, but you’ll be rewarded with some incredible views. See more pictures in our full post on the Sarrail Ridge Trail.

15. West Wind Pass Trail

West Wind Pass hike with Kids in Kananaskis

The West Wind Pass is a short Kananaskis hike that rewards hikers with some of the best scenery over such a short distance. While hiking up the side of a river valley, you’ll get sweeping views over the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

At the top of the West Wind Pass trail, you’ll be at a mountain pass below The Rimwall and Windtower mountains. Looking northeast, you’ll enjoy incredible views of Wind Ridge (another of our favourite Kananaskis hikes), the Little Sister (Hope) from Canmore’s Three Sisters as well as Pigeon Peak.

It’s a stunning viewpoint which requires less than 3 km of hiking to get there.

Distance: 5.4 km out and back

Elevation: 353m

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This could quite possibly be my favorite family-friendly hike in Kananaskis. The view to effort ratio is incredible! See more in our full blog post on the West Wind Pass Trail.

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. To help you stay safe and make the most out of your trip, we have written a post about our recommended hiking gear for Kananaskis Country. It’s also a good idea to have a quick read of our guide on how to properly dress for hiking in the Canadian Rockies.

Wildlife Safety

When hiking in Kananaskis Country, you are responsible for your own safety. Before hitting the hiking trails we highly recommend you read our 9 Essential Kananaskis Hiking Tips for information about bear safety, trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures.

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Hikes in Kananaskis that should be on everyone's list. These hikes have incredible mountain views, a mountain lake or both.

Celine Brewer - Travel Banff Canada

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.