Alberta is one of Canadas most beautiful provinces thanks to its unforgettable areas including Banff, Jasper, Canmore and Kananaskis Valley.

Alberta is home to Canada’s legendary Rocky Mountains. Alberta offers an infinite amount of amazing hikes that include stunning waterfalls, sparkling blue lakes, and jaw dropping lookout points that make the climb worth every step!

Valley of 5 Lakes Loop

Jasper

Moderate

Valley of Five Lakes is a 5km hike that will take you in a short loop to multiple stunning lakes.

Beginning at the Icefield Parkway, this trail does include steep up and down sections between the flat stretches. If you prefer to avoid a lot of uphill you should do this loop counter clockwise and go straight to the fifth lake. Beside the lake is a trail that follows a narrow ridge along a hillside that provides amazing views of the water and mountains.

Get to this area early if you want it to yourself! This trail is rumored to be busy, especially mid day on a sunny afternoon.

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Maligne Canyon Loop Trail

Jasper

Moderate

Maligne Canyon is just a short 10 minute drive from the town of Jasper, and has a huge parking lot!

It is a 3.5 km hike, with gentle slops and inclines. Expect this hike to take about 1.5 – 2.5 hours, and you should be able to count the six bridges that you’ll cross on route. To find the best view, after the sixth bridge walk down the Seven Path and make a right into a hidden mini beach by the water.

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Roche De Miette Scramble

Jasper

Difficult

The Roche De Miette trail is for experienced hikers with proper hiking gear. It is a 11km hike and usually takes users about 6-8 hours to complete, depending on how high you choose to climb.

Head out early on a clear day to catch the breathtaking views from the summit and avoid the busiest time of day on the trail. There is no shade on the second half of this hike and no access to water, so bring along lots of fluids to keep yourself well hydrated, as well as sunscreen.

The first 4km proves to be a moderate walk through the forest, but once you reach the first peak the scramble – the most challenging part – begins. Only experienced hikers should attempt the steep ascend up the unstable rocks, and obviously it is not dog friendly. Many users choose to wear helmets to protect themselves from falling rocks from above, especially if you are choosing to climb with a group or during a busy day.

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Athabasca Falls

Jasper

Bonus Adventure

These falls are located just 30 minutes south of the town of Jasper, and is located inside Jasper National Park. It is only a 1km walk to the falls.

The parking lot is large, but the area can be very busy. There are multiple lookout points that offer different views of the falls along the trail, as well as paths that lead down between the walls of the canyon with stairs that have been carved into rocks.

If you are driving through the Icefields Parkway you should definitely visit the falls to admire the canyon and the eroded rock that has formed caves and rock formations over the many years of water flowing over the soft limestone.

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Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots

Banff

Moderate

Located in Banff National Park, Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots is a 12km popular trail that features a waterfall and allows leashed dogs.

In the summer months this is one of the most popular trails in the Canadian Rockies. Parking is limited to just one parking lot so arrive early if you are going between June and August, or else you might get stuck on Bow Valley Parkway. Biking the first 6km up the 1A trail is also a great option many people choose to do.

The trailhead begins behind Johnston Canyon Lodge, and after 1km users should reach the first falls. Continue further past the upper falls, and reach the meadow and Ink Pots, a small mineral springs that can change color slightly depending on the time of year.

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Mount Rundle Summit Trail

Banff

Difficult

Mount Rundle Summit Trail is a 15km hike in Banff National Park that should take hikers 6-9 hours to complete.

This hike is best for experienced hikers as it gets very steep and technical the higher you go.

Users can park at Bow Falls, and after 6km of walking the ascent begins. After this point users should cross a creek and notice yellow square markers on trees. Follow these markers through the steep forest until you emerge out of the timberline. Here users face the beginning of the Dragons Back, the steepest and toughest part. The scramble includes narrow ledges, loose rocks, and requires users to be brave and confident, as well as properly equipped with hiking poles, boots, lots of water, and more.

Parks Canada provides a great Climbers Guide to Mount Rundle. You can pick up one at the Banff information center.

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Tunnel Mountain Trail

Banff

Moderate

Tunnel Mountain Trail is a 4.5 km hike. It is short, but most sections are uphill and the viewpoints are fantastic.

This hike is perfect whether you are a runner looking for a quick but satisfying workout or a family with young kids, this trail can be done by anybody. The average user can finish this hike between 1-2 hours.

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Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak

Bow Valley Provincial Park

Difficult

Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak is a 7km hike that is rated as very difficult. The trail begins at the parking lot and users will hike up through the Canadian Rocky Mountain forest, and onto open rock.

It is a steep trail and requires an experienced hiker with proper equipment. It can get cold and windy as you near the peak, so bring layers! Once you reach the top users are treated with spectacular views of the town of Canmore.

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Mt Norquay via Ferrata

Banff

Bonus Adventure

Via Ferrata (Italian for “iron road”) is not just a hike, but an assisted climbing experience.

Climb ladders and cross suspension bridges on the cliffs above Mt Norquay. You will be led by a highly experienced ACMG – certified guide and attached by a harness to the mountains steel cable pathway so you can enjoy the breathtaking views without any danger.

Via Ferrata offers 6 different routes, all ranging in difficulty and length. The shortest route takes 2-2.5 hours and the longest can take up to 8 hours.

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Grassi Lake Trail

Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park

Moderate

Grassi Lakes Trail is a 4.3km hike in Canmore. This is a super popular area, so if you are going on a sunny weekend get there early to beat the crowds!

About 100 meters from the trailhead users will come to a fork in the trail. The right trail, Upper Grassi Lakes Trail, is best for families as it is an easier route through a dense forest. The left route is Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail, and gradually climbs through the forest before reaching a steep section that rewards users with a waterfall and excellent views of the town of Canmore.

Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail will be closed in the winter due to icy conditions.

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Douglas Fir Trail

Calgary

Moderate

Douglas Fir Trail is a 6km hike located right in Calgary.

It is a great hike for families, runners, or dog owners, with a variation of uphill, downhill, and stairs. It takes users about 2 hours to complete, and offers great lookouts over the Bow River and the city along the way.

If you want to feel like you are up in the mountains without ever leaving the city, definitely check out Edworthy Park!

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Winter Hiking Tips

Albertans suffer longer winters than their BC neighbors, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting out to hike if you are adventurous!

Hiking in the winter means less people on the trail, no bugs to swat away, and it is a fantastic way to combat seasonal depression. However winter hiking can be very dangerous and you need to be properly prepared.

You will have to adjust your packing list for a winter hike. Pack accordingly to the trail conditions, if you expect deep snow pack snowshoes, and if you expect packed down ice and snow bring a pair of crampons! Hand and toe warmers are always a great idea to bring along, and cold weather kills electronics quickly so a portable charger should also be on your packing list.

If you are hiking on a sunny day bring your sunscreen! The snow can reflect harmful UV rays and easily sunburn you. You’ll also want to pack a toque or headband to keep your ears and head warm. Bring along gloves or mittens, and a balaclava or face mask to cover your cheeks, nose and neck from the harsh conditions and help protect your lungs against the cold air. You can tie loops or zip ties to your jacket zippers to make it easier to open and close your jacket pockets while wearing gloves.

You’ll want to trade in your summer hiking boots for a warmer pair of winter snow boots, and wear alpaca or merino wool socks. You can wear fleece lined pants or full on snow pants depending on the conditions and your personal preference.

The most important part of winter hiking is staying warm without breaking a sweat. If you do sweat it can lead to you becoming chilled from the cold weather and put a quick end to your hike.

Be bold, start cold is a great motto to go by because as you work your body temperature will get warmer, and this method prevents you from overheating and sweating too early.

It is always a great idea to pack extra layers to prepare for the colder weather at higher elevation, and for this reason many people prefer to wear a larger hiking pack while hiking in the winter compared to summer.

If you have never hiked in the winter before, start small! Winter hiking is more dangerous than summer hiking because the harsh conditions can lead to frostbite or death without proper equipment.

During the winter the hours of daylight are much shorter, and hikers will find they become exhausted faster due to the energy your body is spending to keep warm and the effort of trudging through snow. Hikers should always set out as early as possible in order to make it back safely before dark, especially because hiking through snow and ice will slow your pace.

Many hikers may find they are dehydrated after a winter hike! Due to the colder and damper conditions hikers may not feel as thirsty, and forget to hydrate as often as they should be.

Just a few inches of snow can completely cover a trail, and easily cause hikers to become lost. You should know how to navigate with a map and a compass, and carry a GPS. You should always check the weather forecast before heading out, as well as the Parks Canada website to find out what condition of the trail will be like. You should also check for avalanches in the area by clicking here, or if you want to become a hardcore winter hiker you can take an avalanche course and learn how to identify the risk of one for yourself.