Buy our latest book now! 150 Unusual Things to See in Alberta is available online and in stores now.

Prairie Mountain – Hike a Mountain Before Lunch!

Prairie Mountain – Hike a Mountain Before Lunch!
An image of the view from the top of Prairie Mountain n Kananaskis, Alberta
View from the top of Prairie Mountain

Prairie Mountain is a popular hiking summit, close to the city of Calgary, just West of Bragg Creek in the Kananaskis Country area of Alberta. It is a short yet challenging hike of just under 7 km with about 700 m elevation gain. Due to its popularity, it is a great summit to attempt any time of year and in any season, summer, winter, spring or fall – so long as you come prepared.

There are affiliate links in this post. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, Wander Woman Travel Magazine may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.

Getting to Prairie Mountain:

An image of a Map with directions to the Prairie Mountain trailhead.

The Prairie Mountain trailhead is on the north side of highway 22x, about 18 km west of the Bragg Creek turnoff. If you are using GPS or google maps to get there, it is best to put in ‘Elbow Falls’. The Elbow Falls staging area has a parking lot with outhouses. Alternatively, you can park on the north side of the highway, right before the winter gates and across from the entrance to the Elbow Falls parking lot. The winter gates are closed between December 1 and May 14 each year. The true trailhead is just past the winter gates, on the north side of the highway, however we typically start on one of the well-worn paths going straight up the hill before the winter gates. In the winter however, the main trailhead is the best option.

More Great Hikes Nearby: Read our post about the Grassi Lakes Hike Near Canmore. 

Hiking up Prairie Mountain:

An image of the Prairie Mountain trail

The trail for Prairie Mountain starts out very steep, with a few different forks along the way. All forks end up leading to the same trail; some are just a little steeper than others. We tend to choose the steepest options to try to get up faster.

An image of the Prairie Mountain trail

The trail stays fairly steep for the first while before becoming a little more bearable. Just when you start to think this hike isn’t so bad, you hit the next steep portion. This climb is the longest part of the trail and is quite challenging. If you take your time getting up this part, it is pretty manageable. If you keep looking ahead, eventually you will notice the trees start to thin and you can see the sky. Once you break out of the trees, the slope goes back to a more manageable climb the rest of the way to the summit of Prairie Mountain.

Hot Tip: Save your knees! We take hiking poles on all of our steep hikes.

Prairie Mountain Summit

An image of the Prairie Mountain trail near the summit

There is usually some prairie grass and wild flowers throughout this area and up to the summit.An image of wild flowers at the summit of Prairie Mountain The Prairie Mountain summit is marked by a large cairn of rocks and some flags, along with a spectacular view stretching all the way to the prairies. On a clear day, you can even see the skyscrapers of downtown Calgary to the east while standing on the summit. If looking to the north, you will see the Moose Mountain Fire Lookout on the next ridge and you can also see the entrance to the Elbow Ice Caves!An image of the view from the summit of Prairie Mountain in Kananskis, Alberta There are great views in all directions and we stayed on the summit of Prairie Mountain for over 30 minutes taking pictures and enjoying the view. There is even cell reception for some epic Snapchats, Instagram posts, live Facebook posts or tweets. You may want to pack a sweater or jacket for the summit. It can be windy and chilly, even on a warm summer day!An image of a backpack at the summit of Prairie Mountain in Kananskis, Alberta

Related:  Read our post Crescent Falls Hike – Family Fun in Summer and Winter. 

Hiking Back Down

On our way down, I noticed a woman going back up the mountain who had passed us going up and down on our way up. I asked her how many round trips she was doing for the day and she told me, “Just 3.” Apparently she was training for a big climb. Seeing her powering up the mountain on her third summit of the day made us feel a silly at how tired we were from ‘just’ one summit!

When we made it down, we went and got the cooler out of our car with our lunch and took it down by the Elbow River to enjoy. Elbow Falls are right off of the parking lot. Dipping your feet in the river is a good way to end this hike.An image of the Prairie Mountain hiking trail in Kananaskis, Alberta The round trip Prairie Mountain hike took us just over 3 hours, including over 30 minutes on the summit. In the winter or shoulder seasons (early spring or late fall), it would be wise to bring crampons and/or snowshoes and to take care on the summit of cornices (snow and ice overhangs).

This hike is also family friendly; we have seen many children as young as 5 or 6 hiking and many even younger in carriers. Fur babies are also very welcome and on a busy day you will see plenty of dogs on the trails.

Related: Check out our post about the Siffleur Falls hike.

For more details and visuals of the hike, check out this video:

Happy Hiking!
The Wild Wanderers

Peak Bagging in the Canadian Rockies: You can summit up to three peaks in a single day on the Heart Mountain Hike Near Canmore. Read our post to find out more.

No Comments

You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Back to Top