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10 of the All Time Best Hikes in Kananaskis Country

10 of the All Time Best Hikes in Kananaskis Country

Kananaskis has some of the most beautiful hiking trails in all of the Canadian Rockies and oftentimes it has fewer crowds than many of the hiking trails near Banff or Canmore. Being born and raised in Alberta and living only an hour away from Kananaskis has allowed me to explore the area extensively. I’ve compiled a list of ten of my all-time favourite hikes that you’ve got to add to your hiking list for this summer. The hikes range from beginner to advanced so there is something for everyone. Read on to discover some of the very best hikes in Kananaskis.

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A girl admiring the view on Nihahi Ridge trail.
One of the many gorgeous viewpoints on the Nihahi Ridge trail.

Blackshale Suspension Bridge – One of the Best Easy Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Easy

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge trail is a great hike for hikers of all levels including children and large groups. The official trail is about 3 km one-way and takes hikers through a lush forested pathway to the Kananaskis suspension bridge. There is also another trailhead that provides a shortcut which makes it only 0.5 km to get to the bridge. I recommend the official trail as the hike through the forest is peaceful and beautiful, but if you’re short on time or prefer a shorter trail the shortcut option is a nice way to see the epic mountain suspension bridge. 

Related: Check out our post about the 10 Best Easy hikes in Kananaskis.

A family on Blackshale Suspension Bridge.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge is a perfect hike to do with young kids.

Ptarmigan Cirque – One of the Best Larch Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Easy

Ptarmigan Cirque is a 4.5 km round trip trail that provides 360-degree views of the surrounding mountain ranges as you walk through a meadow. At only 214 metres of elevation gain, Ptarmigan Cirque is a great hike for beginner hikers and older children. If you’re thinking of hiking in Autumn, this trail also has amazing views of the golden larches which makes it a popular trail in Autumn.

Related: For more detailed information on the trails in Kananaskis, visit the Alberta Parks website.

A picture of a larch tree with mountain in the background. Hikes in Kananaskis.
Ptarmigan Cirque is wonderful year-round, but it’s especially beautiful in Autumn when the golden larches appear.

Grassi Lakes – One of the Best Family Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate

Located near Canmore, Grassi Lakes is a wonderful family-friendly hike that leads to several emerald-coloured mountain lakes. This hike can be done year-round and is kid-friendly! It’s a 3.8 km roundtrip with only a 178 km elevation gain. I did this hike in December with my entire family, including my nieces and nephew that were all under five and it was an awesome time!

Related: For a more detailed description of this hike, read our post, Grassi Lakes Hike – Family Fun Near Canmore

A blue mountain lake, Grassi Lakes.
The emerald-coloured lakes at Grassi Lakes are a unique and fun trail that the whole family can experience.

Arethusa Cirque – One of the Best Easy Larch Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Arethusa Cirque is another hike that gives beautiful surrounding views of the mountain ranges nearby. The hike is beautiful in the summer, but it’s especially spectacular in Autumn when you can see the larches changing colour. Roundtrip the hike is 4.5 km and has 377 metres of elevation gain.

A couple eating lunch on a trail in Kananaskis.
The perfect spot to stop for lunch and admire the larches on Arethusa Cirque.

Essential gear for comfortable hiking – really great socks. Seriously! These breathable Merino wool hiking socks have anti-blister padding and moisture-wicking. They make a difference.

Picklejar Lakes – One of the Best Lake Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Moderate

Adventure to several high-alpine mountain lakes on the Picklejar Lakes trail. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even pack an overnight bag to set up camp on the nearby shores. Picklejar Lakes is one of my favourite hikes in Kananaskis and it’s especially fun and refreshing to take a dip in the cold mountain lake after hiking up! The hike length is 11.6 m roundtrip with 706 metres of elevation gain.

A couple and a dog at Picklejar Lakes.
Picklejar Lakes are the perfect spot to take a dip in the refreshing mountain lakes.

Rawson Lake and Sarrail Ridge – One of the Best View Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Moderate to Rawson Lake, Challenging to Sarrail Ridge

This is another one of my favourite hikes in Kananaskis. If you’re looking for a moderately challenging hike, adventure up to Rawson Lake, a serene mountain lake with a well-maintained trail. If you’re up for an added challenge continue up to Sarrail Ridge after you reach Rawson Lake for gorgeous views of Upper Kananaskis Lake and the surrounding mountain ranges. The total hike to Sarrail Ridge is 11.4 km with 1048 metres of elevation gain.

Two girls standing near Rawson Lake.
Rawson Lake is one of the most beautiful mountain lakes. The reflection of the mountain on the lake is unreal!

East End Of Rundle – One of the Best Challenging Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Challenging

For such a popular hike, I was surprised at how challenging this trail was. I definitely rate East End of Rundle as a challenging hike and I would recommend it for experienced hikers. However, there is a nice false summit that provides great views that many people stop at and this is a good option for a moderate trail. The final ascent up to the summit is the most challenging and not for the faint of heart. It’s all worth it for the gorgeous views and it feels like you’re on top of the world when you reach the summit. The trail is a 4.8 km round trip with 832 metres of elevation gain.

The view from the top of East End of Rundle Trail in Kananaskis.
It feels like you’re on top of the world when you hike the East End of Rundle!

We recommend taking TrailBuddy light weight collapsible hiking poles on challenging hikes.

Pocaterra Ridge – One of the Best Autumn Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Challenging

Another popular Autumn hike to see the golden larches, Pocaterra Ridge is a wonderful hike in Kananaskis. I hiked this trail with a friend and we didn’t end up going all the way to the summit so I can’t speak to the full trail, but we hiked over half of the trail and loved it! The trail was well maintained but I would recommend this hike for more experienced hikers as the trail becomes more challenging near the top. Pocaterra Ridge is a 9.8 km roundtrip with 730 metres of elevation gain.

Pocaterra Ridge, 10 of the best hikes in Kananaskis.
My friend, Jenna, and I loved Pocaterra Ridge, and we didn’t even hike all the way to the top.

King Creek Ridge – One of the Best Steep Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Challenging

I really enjoyed King Creek Trail, and I would rate it as one of the less technical hikes on this list. The trail is very straightforward, however, it’s very steep the whole way which makes it more challenging. The trail is 6.9 km and has 800 metres of elevation gain. It’s an excellent hike for people who are starting to dip their toes into some of the more difficult hiking trails.

A man looking at the mountains on Kind Creek Ridge Trail.
King Creek Trail has some of the best mountain views in Kananaskis.

Nihahi Ridge – One of the Best Summit Hikes in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Challenging

Nihahi Ridge is a challenging hike that rewards you with unparalleled views of the Canadian Rockies. I hiked Nihahi Ridge on a very windy day so unfortunately I didn’t get to spend much time at the summit. I could’ve spent hours there! The final ascent to the top is the most challenging part and it’s why I would recommend this hike for experienced hikers. Nihahi Ridge is an 8.4 km roundtrip with 713 metres of elevation gain.

Interested in hiking Nihahi Ridge? Read Nihahi Ridge – 360-degree Views in Kananaskis Country

The view from on top of Nihahi Ridge hikes in kananaskis.
The view of the mountain valley from Nihahi Ridge.

Honourable Mention: Smutwood Peak – Best Aspirational Hike in Kananaskis

Difficulty Level: Challenging

Smutwood Peak is one of the hikes in Kananaskis that I’ve wanted to hike for years and I had to include it on this list. The photo’s from this hike look unreal! I am planning to hike it this season and I can’t wait! It’s a longer hike at 17.9 km roundtrip with 964 metres of elevation gain. Stay tuned for photos and a blog post about this hike!

Kananaskis Conservation Pass

You’ll need to purchase a Kananaskis Conservation Pass if you want to hike in Kananaskis. You can buy a daily or a yearly pass. Purchase the pass online and register your license plate. Passes can also be purchased in-person or by using Wi-Fi at Kananaskis Visitor Information Centres (Barrier, Elbow, Peter Lougheed and William Watson Lodge) and the Canmore Nordic Centre Day Lodge.

Where to Stay in Kananaskis

There are plenty of great campgrounds in Kananaskis. If you want a full resort experience, Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Autograph Collection is your best bet. There are several restaurants, pools, fitness facilities, a spa and it’s right next to the only Nordic spa in the Canadian Rockies. For an all-inclusive experience with meals and afternoon tea included, Mount Engadine Lodge is a good choice.

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