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Troll Falls Hike in Kananaskis

The Troll Falls hike is one of the best easy hikes in Kananaskis. An easy walk through an evergreen & aspen forest to a beautiful Marmot Creek waterfall, the Troll Falls trail is a real crowd pleaser all year round.

The Troll Falls hike is one of the most popular hikes in Kananaskis Country, likely because it appeals to so many types of hikers. Troll Falls is one of the best kid-friendly hikes in Kananaskis, one of the best Kananaskis waterfall hikes and one of the best easy hikes in Kananaskis.

With a pedigree like this, it’s no wonder why so many people love to the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis. When we say Troll Falls is “popular”, we mean crazy popular – get to Troll Falls as early as you can to get a coveted parking spot.

a long exposure picture of Troll Falls in Kananaskis Country

Troll Falls Trail – Quick Details

Trailhead: Troll Falls Trailhead

Distance: 

  • 3.5 km to Troll Falls and back
  • 5 km loop to Upper Falls and Hay Meadows (recommended)

Elevation: 

  • 155 m elevation gain to Troll Falls and back
  • 270 m to Upper Falls

This post contains compensated links.

Troll Falls Hike Highlights

The Troll Falls trailhead enters the forest on the left just past the toilets. The forest along this easy Kananaskis hiking trail is a beautiful mixture of aspens and evergreen trees with wispy lichen hanging from the branches.

The forest on this leg of the Troll Falls hike is not very dense allowing you to see deep into the trees and often allows glimpses of towering Kananaskis Country mountains to the right.

Best easy Kananaskis hikes - Troll Falls Alberta Canada

You’ll encounter two trail junctions in the first 600 m of the Troll Falls hiking trail. These junctions are both connector trails for the Skogan Pass Trail. To continue hiking on the Troll Falls trail, simply go straight at each junction.

At 0.8 km you’ll arrive at a clearing in the trees. A few years ago we saw a huge wolf run through here – a very exciting sight!

Get tips on finding Kananaskis wildlife from a local wildlife photographer.

Chances are you won’t see any wolves here, so instead pause and soak in the beautiful views of Wasootch Peak (2,300 m), Kananaskis Peak (2,419 m) and Old Baldy Peak (2,728 m) from this viewpoint on the Troll Falls Trail. If you appreciate beautiful trees, look for a majestic old Aspen tree on the opposite end of the clearing next to the hiking trail.

a vista of the Kananaskis Rocky Mountains from a break in the trees along the Troll Falls Trail

The next leg of the Troll Falls hike features several teepees in the forest made from fallen tree trunks. These teepees are hugely popular with kids and is one of the reasons why Troll Falls is one of the most kid-friendly hikes in Kananaskis Country.

A teepee made from fallen trees is found just off the hiking trail at Troll Falls, Kananaskis

The biggest Troll Falls teepee is just on the left-hand side a short distance from the clearing. The other teepees are newer and smaller and may not be permanent.

Kids love playing in the teepees (tipis) on the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis

After 1.2 km on the Troll Falls hiking trail, you’ll cross a cute little bridge before entering a beautiful aspen forest. This stretch of trail is a beautiful Kananaskis hiking trail for fall colours, especially if you are looking for an alternative to the crazy-busy Kananaskis larch tree hikes.

The aspen forest on the Troll Falls hiking trail is a beautiful hike in Kananaskis for fall colors

At 1.5 km you’ll arrive at a large trail junction. A sharp 170-degree right-hand turn takes you to the pleasant Hay Meadow trail back to the parking lot (which we recommend for the return trip). A left turn takes you to Ruthie’s Trail, which turns into the Hidden Trail (which takes you through the Nakiska Ski Area). Simply go straight to enter the final leg of the Troll Falls hike.

The final 300 m meters of the Troll Falls hike is a beautiful walk through mixed forest along the charming shores of Marmot Creek.

Best easy hikes in Kananaskis - Troll Falls near Calgary

The Troll Falls lower falls are found at the far end of a horseshoe shaped canyon. The Troll Falls waterfall free-falls from the top of the canyon walls straight to the canyon floor.

Standing in front of the Troll Falls waterfall, dramatic rock walls wrap all around you. While this is a stunning Kananaskis Country location, beware that falling rocks are a danger in this area so please don’t cross the newly installed safety fences.

The Lower Troll Falls waterfall is the most popular of the marmot creek waterfalls in Kananaskis Country

After viewing the beautiful Marmot Creek waterfall, you may cross a bridge as you leave the lower Troll Falls which takes you to the far side of Marmot Creek. This is a nice way to avoid the crowds coming up the narrow main trail towards Troll Falls, and provides access even more waterfalls.

The bridge from the Troll Falls Lower Falls to the Troll Falls Upper Falls trail

If you crossed the bridge, watch for a trail sign on your left for a short loop trail to two additional Kananaskis waterfalls – the Marmot Waterfall and the Troll Falls Upper Falls. The extra distance to see the additional waterfalls is only 1.3 km – we highly recommend you do it if you have the time and capability.

The winding trail to the upper Troll Falls begins with a short uphill section, but it’s not too bad. When you reach the first trail junction, so left to proceed to Marmot Falls. As you approach Marmot Falls, you can see Troll Falls through the trees on your left.

a hiker walks behind the Marmot Falls

Marmot Falls look remarkably like Troll Falls, with one major difference – you can walk behind Marmot Falls! The trail behind the falls is several feet wide, but it is rocky and wet, so watch your step. It’s a pretty rare opportunity to go behind a waterfall, so don’t miss this chance. Kids are sure to love this fun thing to do in Kananaskis Country!

After enjoying the unique experience of Marmot Falls, continue onwards via a set of rock steps. The trail from Marmot Falls to the Upper Falls follows Marmot Creek along a section of small, cascading waterfalls. It’s a breathtaking sight – hats off to Alberta Parks for their trail upgrades in 2020, making this beautiful sight easily accessible to all!

a beautiful cascading waterfall on Marmot Creek in-between Marmot Falls and the Upper Falls

Your journey following Marmot Creek upstream ends when you reach the Upper Falls, a 2-tier cascading waterfall, surrounded by lush forest and moss covered rocks. The entire Marmot Falls to Upper Falls loop is just so remarkable, we highly recommend you do it.

the Upper Falls along the newly updated Troll Falls hiking trail

Note, the trail to the Troll Falls upper falls can be closed in winter due to unsafe conditions – watch for signs at the trailhead. This leg ends with another bridge across Marmot Creek back to the main Troll Falls hiking trail.

When you complete the short trip to the Upper Falls, you’ll reach the major trail junction again you have a choice – go straight to follow the Troll Falls hiking trail back to the parking lot. This is the fastest way back to the Troll Falls trailhead, but instead of returning the same way on the Troll Falls trail, we recommend you take a slight left to take the Hay Meadow trail back to the parking lot.

Orchids of Alberta - Calypso orchids seen on the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis Village

The optional route along the Hay Meadow Trail back to the Troll Falls trailhead makes your Kananaskis hike a loop. We always prefer a loop hiking trail when possible as you get bonus Kananaskis scenery with minimal additional effort. We recommend you take the Hay Meadow loop to help reduce traffic on the main Troll Falls Trail – the scenery is actually much nicer!

Hike through beautiful aspen trees in Kananaskis on the Troll Falls to Hay Meadows hike

Optional Hay Meadow Loop trail

As you leave the Troll Falls trail, the Hay Meadow trail begins though a large patch of aspen trees. If you are looking for a good fall hike in Kananaskis Country, this section of aspends turns a beautiful shade of gold. While the masses are off enjoying the best larch hikes in Alberta, you can enjoy golden aspen trees on the Hay Meadows trail.

Golden aspen trees line the Hay Meadows hiking trail near Kananaskis Village

Before long, the Hay Meadow trail crosses a set of power lines. At this point, the Hay Meadow trail intersects with the epic Stoney Trail. This 2.2 km long Kananaskis hiking trail runs from the Troll Falls parking lot to the Barrier Lake day use area.

a man hikes below a large aspen tree with golden leaves along the Hay Meadows trail in Kananaskis

If you look to the right down the power line, you’ll enjoy a nice view of The Wedge (2,667 m), while to the left you’ll be treated to equally nice views of Mt. Lorette (2,469 m).

After 0.5km of hiking on the Hay Meadow Trail, you’ll reach a cluster of buildings along the shores of the Kananaskis River. The Hay Meadow hiking trail follows the Kananaskis River for a while with an open meadow on the right. The view of Mt. Kidd (2,958 m) across the meadow is incredible!

the Kananaskis River flows through a forest full of fall colors on the Hay Meadows trail

Before long, the Hay Meadow trail reaches a park bench along the shores of the Kananaskis River. 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.

Compare your wingspan to a Golden Eagle at the Kananaskis Raptor Count site on the Troll Falls Hay Meadows Loop Trail

If you wish to increase your odds of seeing a Golden Eagle migrate through Kananaskis Country on its way to the Yukon or Alaska, try to visit this site on the Hay Meadow trail after 3PM. Golden Eagle activity is highest in the late afternoon, thus increasing your chances of seeing this majestic bird.

We recently hiked the Troll Falls to Hay Meadow loop with our kids in early April. We arrived at the Golden Eagle migration count site just before lunch.

The downside of arriving at this time of day was that there were no Golden Eagles in the sky above, but our kids did get to ask the Golden Eagle count volunteer tons of questions. The volunteer was very kind and generous with her answers to our kids’ many questions about Golden Eagles.

Annual RMERF raptor count in Kananaskis - Golden Eagle, Bald Eagle and more

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.

After the Kananaskis Golden Eagle migration count site, the forest becomes mixed again. The entire length of the Hay Meadow Trail is so flat, you’ll barely notice an elevation change.

Taking the Hay Meadows Trail back to the Troll Falls parking lot near Kananaskis Village

The Hay Meadow Trail ends 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 Troll Falls – Hay Meadow Loop Trail is a beautiful alternative to the traditional out-and-back Troll Falls Trail. We highly recommend you enjoy the Troll Falls to Hay Meadow loop as well.

the Hay Meadows trail winds through a forest of colorful aspen trees in fall

Troll Falls Directions

The Troll Falls trailhead is in the Kananaskis Village area in Kananaskis Country. It’s a 70 minute drive from Calgary to Troll Falls, or a 50 minute drive from Banff to Troll Falls.

Due to the popularity of this kid-friendly Kananaskis hike, the Troll Falls parking lot was recently enlarged and upgraded. It’s a very large parking lot, but this is one of the most popular Kananaskis hiking trails, so it can fill up fast on weekends and holidays. Arrive early and avoid peak hours if possible.

Happy faces made of snow on the aspen trees on the Troll Falls Trail in fall

If the main Troll Falls parking lot is full, do not park on the road. You’ll notice tons of No Parking signs along Mt. Allen Drive. The Troll Falls overflow parking lot is at nearby Kovach Pond. It’s roughly 1 km from the Kovach Pond parking lot to the Troll Falls trailhead.

Kovach Pond itself isn’t really all that nice, but we use it a starting point for the Evan Thomas / Bill Milne bike trail – one of our favorite kid-friendly bike rides in Kananaskis. Given Troll Falls is a pretty short kid-friendly Kananaskis hike, pairing it up with a family bike ride on the Evan Thomas trail makes for an excellent family day-trip to Kananaskis Country.

To find the Troll Falls Trailhead simply walk under the powerlines away from the parking lot. The trailhead is on the left, just past the toilets.

Marmot Falls, Alberta

Troll Falls Trail Statistics

How Long is the Troll Falls Hike?

The Troll Falls hike is a short Kananaskis hiking trail, clocking in at roughly 3.5 km long. If you decide to hike the Troll Falls – Upper Falls – Hay Meadow loop, the total distance grows to 4 km.

A beautiful forest in Kananaskis Country along the Troll Falls trail

How Steep is Troll Falls Trail?

Given the mountainous terrain in Kananaskis Country, the Troll Falls hike is a remarkably flat hike with a total elevation gain of only 155 m. You’ll add another 115 m of elevation gain if you add on the short hike to see the Marmot Falls and the Troll Falls upper falls.

The kid-friendly Troll Falls hike to a beautiful set of Kananaskis falls

How Hard is the Troll Falls Hiking Trail?

The Troll Falls hike is one of the easiest hikes in Kananaskis Country. It’s short, flat and easy but it delivers a ton of incredible Rocky Mountain scenery.

We rate the Troll Falls Trail as an “easy Kananaskis hike”.

an easy hiking trail in Kananaskis Country

How Long Does It Take to Hike Troll Falls?

It should take a typical adult roughly 40-60 minutes to complete the out-and-back Troll Falls Trail. The complete Troll Falls to the Upper Falls to Hay Meadow loop will take about 20-30 minutes longer.

When we recently hiked the Troll Falls to Hay Meadow loop with our kids (5 & 7), it took us 1.5 hours of hiking time. Add to that the 15 minutes they spent asking questions to the Golden Eagle migration count volunteer.

Troll Falls hike time is 40 - 90 minutes, depending on if you hike with kids

Troll Falls Trail Map

It’s nearly impossible to get lost on the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis Country. Just find the hiking trail and follow it all the way to the beautiful Marmot Creek waterfall and back. There are several trail junctions along the Troll Falls trail, but they are well marked with Alberta Parks trail maps.

We used the AllTrails app while hiking the Troll Falls – Hay Meadow Loop Trail. We use AllTrails for all our adventures in Banff, Kananaskis and hiking with kids around the world. In addition to helping us stay on the hiking trails, we like the ability to track our hiking stats (distance, elevation gain, etc.).

Frozen marmot creek waterfalls on the Troll Falls winter hike

To find the hiking map for Troll Falls on AllTrails, simply search for “Troll Falls

Being so close to Kananaskis Village and Nakiska you should have some cell service on this easy Kananaskis hiking trail but expect it to be spotty. It’s always a good idea to download the trail map onto your phone ahead of time just in case.

Hiking Troll Falls with Kids

We’ve enjoyed hiking Troll Falls with our kids for years – in fact, it’s likely the kid-friendly Kananaskis hike that we’ve done the most with our kids.

Troll Falls is such a flat and easy trail that it was always a go-to for us when we wanted an easy hike for kids in Kananaskis Country. It’s fair to say that Troll Falls is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Kananaskis.

Kids love the Troll Falls trail as it’s easy and nice and wide, making it fun for them to run around and be crazy. The teepees along the way are always a hit with kids on the Troll Falls hike.

The many teepees along the Troll Falls hike make it a popular kid-friendly hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

The Troll Falls hike is short and easy enough for most kids to complete themselves, even if they are little. This is a huge confidence builder for little kids and is a good building block for harder hikes.

Troll Dolls on the Troll Falls Trail

To be honest, the main reason Troll Falls is such a popular kid-friendly hike in Kananaskis is that people used to hide Troll dolls along the trail for little kids to find. Our kids would go crazy, literally running the length of the Troll Falls trail looking for the hidden Troll dolls.

Hiding Troll dolls is no longer permitted on the Troll Falls trail in kananaskis country

On our most recent visit to Troll Falls with our kids in April 2021, we noticed a new sign at the trailhead posted by Alberta Parks. For the safety of the animals in Kananaskis, they are asking hikers not to leave Troll dolls along the hiking trail anymore.

When hiking Troll Falls with kids, Alberta Parks is requesting that hikers no longer leave Troll Dolls along the trail for kids to find

Our kids were very disappointed with this new policy, but we explained why this was important for the wildlife. We promised them that we’d buy them Troll dolls and they could bring their own next time.

I know lots of kids will be disappointed without Troll dolls hidden on the trail, but we support Alberta Parks helping protect the wildlife. It must be hard for the animals to exist so close to a popular Kananaskis hiking trail.

The Troll Falls hike to a pair of beautiful Kananaskis falls is easy and fun for all ages

Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break

We used to have a tough time answering this question, but with the recent construction of the trail to the Marmot Falls and the Upper Falls, it’s now very easy to answer. Simply find a beautiful spot along Marmot Creek in-between these two beautiful Kananaskis waterfalls.

There are no picnic tables, nor are there any benches to sit on along the way, but if you have a compact picnic blanket in your hiking bag, you’re all good to go.

the Upper Falls along Marmot Creek in Kananaskis Country

Another beautiful spot to stop os along the Hay Meadow loop trail, where you’ll find a park bench near the Golden Eagle migration area. The bench offers hikers nice views of the Kananaskis River, Wasootch Peak and Kananaskis Peak in the distance.

If the bench is taken, you can plop down a picnic blanket in the open meadow near the Kananaskis River and enjoy the amazing mountain views all around.

a meadow along the Kananaskis River on the Hay Meadows hiking trail

Alternately, reward yourself for completing the Troll Falls hike with a proper picnic table at the Mount Lorette Ponds. Just 7 minutes north of Troll Falls on Highway 40, Lorette Ponds is a beautiful picnic spot with a nice little paved pathway around the tranquil ponds.

Mt Lorette Ponds are a beautiful Kananaskis picnic spot near Troll Falls and Kananaskis Village
Mount Lorette Ponds picnic area

Troll Falls Hiking Safety Tips

Kananaskis Country is prime bear and cougar habitat. Please take the time to educate yourself about Bear Safety and Cougar Safety in Kananaskis Country.

Bears in Kananaskis Country

Don’t let this scare you off. Chances of a dangerous wildlife encounter in Kananaskis are very low, but you never know what will happen with Kananaskis wildlife, so be educated and prepared.

We recommend you check the latest Troll Falls Trail Report and the Troll Falls Upper Falls Trail Report for trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures before you head out.

Biking Troll Falls Trail

Troll Falls is not just a hiking trail, it’s an easy Kananaskis mountain biking trail as well. You can ride your bike as far as the final junction to Troll Falls, but you’ll need to lock your bike at the newly installed bike rack and walk the final 300 m to the falls.

Given the large number of hikers you will encounter on this popular Kananaskis hiking trail, you will have a much more enjoyable outing if you mountain bike to Troll Falls in the early morning or in the early evening.

The Troll Falls trail is a well-groomed, easy mountain biking trail in Kananaskis. E-bikes are allowed too

You may also ride your e-bike to Troll Falls – at least for now ,as Alberta Parks is in the process of developing a policy for pedal-assist bikes in Kananaskis Country.

Check the Troll Falls Trail Report or the Kananaskis e-bike page to check the current status of e-bikes on Troll Falls before going.

Troll Falls Trail Logistics

There are washrooms in-between the parking lot and the Troll Falls trailhead.

There are no drinking water facilities at Troll Falls, so fill your reusable water bottles or hydration packs before you leave home.

On-leash dogs are allowed on the Troll Falls hike.

onleash dogs are allowed on the Troll Falls Kananaskis hiking trail

What to Bring for Hiking Troll Falls

Generally speaking, you don’t need a lot of hiking gear on short day hikes in Kananaskis. Check out our list of essential Alberta hiking gear with everything we recommend to enjoy your hike, regardless of the variable Kananaskis weather and trail conditions.

Banff hiking gear
Plain of Six Glaciers Hike – Lake Louise

Troll Falls Footwear Recommendation

The Troll Falls trail is well groomed all the way to the waterfalls. Unless you are doing the Troll Falls hike in winter, you won’t need any special hiking shoes for this hike.

If you plan to do a lot of Kananaskis or Banff hiking during your visit, you’ll need a proper pair of hiking shoes.

see beautiful wildflowers on the easy hiking trails in Kananaskis

Troll Falls Hike in Winter

Troll Falls is one of our favorite places in Kananaskis and we enjoy visiting it all year round. If you’d like to visit Troll Falls in winter, you can enjoy it as a winter hike or snowshoe trail.

Troll falls hike with kids in winter

Troll Falls Winter Hike

A beautiful walk through a winter wonderland to a frozen waterfall is what makes the Troll Falls winter hike special. When frozen, the Troll Falls are incredibly beautiful, especially on a sunny day when you can see the surreal icy blue colors at their best.

For those who (like us) have been visiting Troll Falls in the winter for years, a new change is the fact you can’t go right up to the frozen Kananaskis waterfall anymore. Alberta Parks has installed fencing to discourage people from going up to the frozen waterfall at Troll Falls.

Troll Falls frozen waterfall Kananaskis

The Troll Falls winter hike is popular enough that the trail is usually hard packed snow (unless you arrive early the morning after an overnight snowfall). With so many pairs of feet trampling the snow down, the Troll Falls trail can get icy and slippery. The hills that don’t seem very steep in the summer suddenly become slippery in the winter.

When hiking Kananaskis with kids, try the easy Troll Falls trail - the kids will love all the teepees

We’ve enjoyed the Troll Falls winter hike many times with just our winter boots on, but you will enjoy your outing more if you don’t need to worry about your footing.

Wearing proper foot traction devices on the Troll Falls winter hike allow you to enjoy the experience more fully, as you won’t be focusing on your feet the whole time. We love our Kahtoola MicroSpikes, but Yaktrax are also a popular alternative. Don’t forget ice cleats for your kids too!

Things to do in Kananaskis in winter - Troll Falls snowshoe trail

Troll Falls Snowshoe Trail

Another great traction device to use on the Troll Falls in winter are snowshoes. To be honest, the Troll Falls trail will be so well travelled in winter that you won’t need snowshoes to manage any deep snow on the trail, but the crampons underneath snowshoes are very useful for traction on the icy Troll Falls trail.

We used to snowshoe Troll Falls a lot, but now we use our microspikes almost exclusively. Both are great ways to enjoy Troll Falls in winter – your choice of activity depends on what gear you have and/or what you feel like.

Easy winter hikes in Kananaskis - Troll Falls hike to a frozen Marmot Creek waterfall

Avalanche Risk

We are not avalanche experts, so please learn about avalanche safety and make smart, informed decisions while safely enjoying the beauty of Troll Falls in winter. You are responsible for your own safety.

A toddler enjoys the Troll Falls winter hike in Kananaskis Country

That said, this easy Kananaskis winter hike should have very low avalanche risk. The Troll Falls trail sits immediately downslope of the Nakiska Ski Area. In nature, anything can happen, but you can trust that the avalanche risk uphill of the Nakiska Ski Area will be monitored and managed very closely. If Nakiska is safe from avalanches, Troll Falls will be as well.

We recommend consulting the Kananaskis Avalanche Danger Report published by Avalanche Canada before you go. The Troll Falls winter hike / snowshoe trail would be classified as “Below Treeline”.

hiking Troll Falls in spring to see a partially frozen waterfall in Kananaskis Country

Interested in more easy winter hikes near Troll Falls? Check out our comprehensive list of easy winter hikes in Banff and Kananaskis.

We hope you love the Troll Falls hike in Kananaskis Country as much as we do!

Beautiful Kananaskis falls on the Troll Falls Hay Meadows Trail

More Kid-Friendly Kananaskis Hikes

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