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10 Best Easy Hikes in Kananaskis

10 Best Easy Hikes in Kananaskis

Time to trade city vibes for nature’s serenade! Nestled in the heart of Alberta, Kananaskis boasts easy hikes that are a perfect blend of leisure and scenic beauty. 

Ready for an adventure that’s equal parts refreshing and awe-inspiring? Let’s dive into the relaxed charm of Kananaskis and discover the outdoor delights it has to offer!

Grotto Canyon

– Posted by @czrnslvdr 


Total distance: 7.1 km

Route type: Out and back

Picture this – you’ll start on an access road, catching glimpses of the Baymag magnesium oxide plant and a powerline. After passing a bench with a killer mountain view, the first 0.8 km will be a blur, making room for the real magic of Grotto Canyon. 

With 154m of elevation spread across 7.1km, you’ll be trading a bit of a leg workout for a rendezvous with inukshuks, caves, waterfalls, and even pictographs. As you near the top, the trail takes a more leisurely turn, creating the perfect vibe for a nature exploration session.

And when winter rolls in, you can witness the trail’s waterfalls freeze into captivating icy spectacles against the rocky backdrop. Experience the magic with a seasonal icewalk, strolling over slabs of ice and packed snow. 

Pro tip:
In winter, the ice might not be fully frozen, but it’s just enough for a stroll through the canyon. Toss on some microspikes, and you’re ready to reach the waterfall and cave.

Once you hit the bench, go straight into the creek bed and enter shortly after. There are a bunch of false trails into the woods, but stick to the creek bed so you’ll have a breeze navigating the area!

Blackshale Suspension Bridge

– Posted by @mala.lenka.vo.velkom.svete  


Total distance: 1.0 km

Route type: Loop

Brace yourself for the Blackshale Suspension Bridge hike; it’s stunning and adrenaline-inducing, and you can choose to conquer your fear of heights or call it quits. While not many rave about the hike to the bridge, it’s a chill stroll along a winding trail in the forest.

Hit the bridge, and the choice is yours – keep rolling along the High Rockies trail or turn back for the Blackshale Suspension Bridge finale. Go any direction you like, and if you’re a speedster, you might conquer it in just 10 minutes. 

Just a heads up, the suspension bridge can get busy with folks enjoying the wobbly walk and snapping pics. But, safety alert – they cap it at 20 people on the bridge at once. 

Pro tip:
To dodge the hustle and bustle on the bridge, aim to get there bright and early.

For the ultimate visual feast, go with the flow and take the trail in a clockwise dance. And hey, good news for the little adventurers – it’s a breeze for the younger kiddos. 

Troll Falls

– Posted by @_adwoaa 


Total distance: 3.4km

Route type: Out and back

Alright, Troll Falls is a family-friendly trail, a laid-back amble through Mother Nature’s masterpiece, with a mere 154m elevation spread across a comfy 3.4 kilometres—it’s a staple and a must on your hiking checklist!

This broad trail leads you on a cozy journey through a forested wonderland and opens up midway, treating you to some sweet mountain views. Next stop, a descent, a bridge, and a stroll through a charming aspen forest, making it the ideal fall hike in Kananaskis.

And listen up – this trail is buzzing, and for good reason, and it’s one of the top easy hikes near Calgary, especially on sunny summer weekends. So, dodge the crowds by planning your adventure on a peaceful weekday. 

Pro tip:
Just a winter heads-up, consider bringing along some trusty hiking poles and microspikes for a smoother trek. Here’s the scoop – the parking lot is a hotspot, especially in summer at midday and on weekends. Beat the hustle by checking out the alternative parking at Kovach Pond. 

Watridge Lake

– Posted by @lyndsay.outdoors 


Total distance: 7.6 km

Route type: Out and back

A gem of an easy hike in Kananaskis, tailor-made for those craving a 5km adventure. This well-marked trail in Spray Valley Provincial Park is a versatile playground – perfect for hiking, snowshoeing, fat biking, and cross-country skiing!

The Watridge Lake Trail welcomes families and groups to a flat and wide hiking experience. Despite wide trails’ stereotypes, this one boasts pleasant walks and impressive mountain views, making it an ideal choice if you’re looking for a leisurely adventure.

And here’s a cool tidbit: the trail to Watridge Lake isn’t just for hiking; you can also cruise it on a bike! It’s a scenic delight and a fun and kid-friendly biking trail in the heart of Kananaskis.

Pro tip:
To get to the trailhead,  make a right off the Three Sisters Parkway from Highway 742 onto Mount Shark Road. Pull into the Mount Shark Parking Lot at the road’s end, and voilà, you’ll find the trailhead right at the entrance.

Grassi Lakes

– Posted by @martinaklein  


Total distance:  4 km

Route Type: Out and back

For the ultimate ease and beauty, Grassi Lakes takes the cake as the easiest hike near Canmore. A well-trodden path leads you year-round to the crystal-clear blue lakes under the majestic Ha Ling Peak. 

You can leisurely take a 2-km walk to uncover the breathtaking beauty of Grassi Lakes, showcasing their enchanting blue-green shades. Also, enjoy the journey without breaking a sweat as the gentle uphill path meanders along a wide gravel road. 

During the summer, choose your adventure on the “hard” or “easy” trail at Grassi Lakes. The “hard” trail treats you to a waterfall—though it’s not too challenging—while the “easy” option follows a gentle path with a mild elevation gain all along.

Pro tip:
Remember to show nature some love at Grassi Lakes—stick to the path, respect signs, and be aware of rockfall hazards in areas marked as closed.

Make sure to arrive bright and early to snag a parking spot and brace yourself for a potential wait at the trailhead’s washrooms on busy days.

Chester Lake

– Posted by @ingagliniak 


Total distance: 9.7 km

Route Type: Out and back

Chester Lake isn’t just a winter wonder; it’s a fall favourite too! With a breathtaking snowshoe trail in winter and the vibrant hues of larches in the fall, it’s a year-round gem in Kananaskis. 

Take a stroll through the fragrant pine woods, climbing about 433m until you reach the tranquil Chester Lake. With some easy switchbacks along the way, it’s a chill hike suitable for all skill levels.

As you reach the lake, the trail unveils breathtaking panoramas of the forest you’ve explored. Follow the path as it winds around the lake, eventually leading you to a fascinating pile of ‘elephant rocks’ – a cluster of climbable boulders that add a unique touch to the scenery.

Pro tip:
If you’re aiming for Chester Lake, just hop onto the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W and cruise to the Smith Dorrien Trail – that’s your ticket to the trailhead.

Be mindful of those rocks on the trail – they might play peek-a-boo under the snow, making things a bit slippery. Better strap on some solid footwear for this adventure!

Ptarmigan Cirque

– Posted by @hola_olla1 


Total distance: 3.6 km

Route Type: Loop

Embark on the Ptarmigan Cirque hike – a family-friendly adventure near Highwood Pass, the crown jewel of Canadian paved passes. In just a short stroll, you’ll be treated to diverse mountain vistas that’ll have you reaching for your camera.

You can experience the magic of the larch season in the Ptarmigan Cirque area! In late September, the landscape transforms into a breathtaking canvas of golden yellow, thanks to the thousands of larch trees that call this place home.

To make the most of your larch-filled adventure at Ptarmigan Cirque, consider starting early and opting for weekdays to avoid the weekend rush. The parking lot, shared with other popular trails like Pocaterra Ridge, tends to get busy during this enchanting larch season.

Pro tip:
Given the delicate alpine environment, it’s best to stick to the designated trail when exploring Ptarmigan Cirque. Note that vehicle access to the trailhead is unavailable from December 1st to June 14th. As a backcountry trail, be aware of potential avalanche hazards in your journey.

Heart Creek Trail

– Posted by @canmorekananaskis 


Total distance: 4.8 km

Route type: Out and back

Heart Creek Trail offers a delightful nature escape with a 4.8 km journey through a picturesque creek canyon adorned with rock formations and woodland waterfalls. This trail, featuring man-made bridges, is just right if you’re looking for an easy yet rewarding afternoon hike.

The hike wraps up with a popular picnic spot, offering a beautiful setting next to a rock wall and a hidden waterfall, adding to the charm. With a park bench and plenty of spots to unwind, it’s the perfect finale to savour the beauty of this special spot in Kananaskis.

Finally, Heart Creek trail transforms into a winter wonderland blanketed in snow, offering a delightful experience for those seeking an easy winter hike in Kananaskis.

Pro tip:
Simply take exit 105 from the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W to Lac Des Arcs Dr and Heart Rd, and you’ll find yourself at the trailhead for the Heart Creek hike.

Make sure to bring microspikes, at the very least, as the trail can get quite icy once you venture away from the highway. Having crampons and poles can also be handy for a more secure hike.

Elbow Lake 

– Posted by @jennexplores


Total distance: 4 km

Route type: Out and back

Discover the beauty of Elbow Lake, one of Kananaskis’ most enchanting short hikes. The well-maintained trail guides you to the picturesque Elbow Lake, surrounded by the Elbow Lake campground. 

Unlike many backcountry hikes in the Canadian Rockies, the entire trail to Elbow Lake is wide and well-maintained. Families can enjoy a leisurely walk together instead of navigating a single-file path, adding to the ease and enjoyment of this Kananaskis hike.

And if you’re up for more adventure after Elbow Lake, the trek to Piper Pass awaits. During the summer, it offers stunning vistas and a quieter trail in Kananaskis, making it a great option for those seeking a more challenging and less crowded hike.

Pro tip:
When reaching Elbow Lake, you have the option to pause at the lake edge or complete the full loop. Ensure you hug the shore to stay on the trail during the loop, as it can be easy to stray off toward the Rae Glacier trail. As you explore, you’ll encounter the boundary to the wildland park but won’t cross into it.

Rawson Lake

– Posted by @liez_zle


Total Distance: 7.8 km

Route type: Out and back

From Kananaskis Lakes, the journey to Rawson Lake is a summertime favourite. The trail adds excitement by tracing the shoreline of Upper Kananaskis Lake at the start, treating hikers to scenic waterfalls and babbling streams throughout the trek. 

Along the trail, benches beckon, urging you to pause and soak in the captivating views. While it might be tempting to linger, we suggest pressing on, as the ultimate reward awaits at Rawson Lake – a truly gratifying experience!

And when you reach the lake, pick your perfect spot to soak in the serenity. That said, we suggest you bring along some picnic goodies and make it a moment to remember under the towering mountains.

Pro tip:
Before you gear up for the Rawson Lake hike, give the trail report a quick check. You know, to stay in the loop about our furry neighbours – the grizzly bears.

So, there you have it – Kananaskis, a haven for nature lovers with its stunning views and diverse trails. There’s no need to go on literal breath-taking hikes to enjoy breathtaking views when you’re at Kananaskis.

And hey, if you’re looking for more than just hiking, Alberta has a lot of summer adventures waiting for you, especially if you’re visiting for a week.

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