Kananaskis Trail Hikes

Kananaskis! Oh, what a wonderful hiking paradise you are. While the hordes of tourists go to Banff, Jasper and beyond, Calgary locals know some of the best hikes in Alberta can be found in Kananaskis Country. There are so many great hikes in Kananaskis, we have broken it up into three sections. This section covers the central Kananaskis Valley and the Kananaskis Lakes, which are accessed by Highway 40, also known as Kananaskis Lakes. This well-maintained road takes you past some of the greatest hikes in the Kananaskis and includes the Kananaskis Valley, parts of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, the Kananaskis Lakes as well as the Highwood region.

Click ‘+MORE INFO’ below for a list of the 10 Best Hiking Trails in the Kananaskis Valley, Alberta.

THE TOP 10 HIKES ALONG KANANASKIS TRAIL

The wonderful Kananaskis is a true playground for outdoors lovers. While the southern, Highwood region, is closed for half the year, there are still lots of great hikes on this list! The best hikes here are mostly intermediate and advanced hikes, but the Kananaskis Region is also a great place for family hikes, however there are two on our list. You’re going to love these hikes!

#1. Pocaterra Ridge (12km, 985m, 5-7h): This wonderful Kananaskis hike is in the top spot simply because of the autumn beauty on offer from this hike. Viewing the larches from Pocaterra Ridge is a must-do for any ardent hiker.

#2. Opal Ridge (6.3km, 900m, 4-6h): Opal Ridge is a steep hike that offers wonderful views of the Kananaskis Valley. We regularly hear people go “Wow” as their jaw drops when they peer over the ridge.

#3. Picklejar Lakes (10.5km, 500m, 3.5-5h): The Picklejar Lakes hike has many fans, with more than one person saying this is his favorite hike in the Canadian Rockies. We think this is the best intermediate level hike in the Kananaskis area. Hiking to Picklejar Lakes is especially popular among families with older children.

#4. King’s Creek Ridge (7.8km, 740m, 4-5.5h): This unmaintained hike is one of the more challenging hikes in Kananaskis. It features a deceptively difficult rise in elevation up a steep path. The payoff? Access to Kings Creek Ridge and the exquisite views of the nearby mountains and lakes – a great day out indeed.

#5. Rawson Lake and Sarrail Ridge (7.8km, 320m, 3.5-6h): The hike to Rawson Lake is a classic Kananaskis Hike. Rawson Lake is a great family hike. The challenging add-on is a hike up to Sarrail Ridge. Sarrail Ridge gives exquisite views of the Kananaskis Lakes and the rest of Kananaskis country.

#6. Elbow Lake and Rae Glacier (9.3km, 425m, 3.5-5h): The hike to Elbow Lake is another favourite Kananaskis hike for families, offering great views for a short hike. More adventurous hikes can continue on to Rae Glacier, the easternmost glacier in Kananaskis.

#7. Upper Kananaskis Lake (16.5km, 295m, 4-5.5h): Upper Kananaskis Lake is a perfect hike in shoulder season and gives a great feel for the lakes and rugged mountains Kananaskis is famous for. This route is also great for intermediates. It features spectacular views, varied terrain and limited elevation gain.

#8. Ptarmigan Cirque (3.5km, 195m, 1-2h): The hike to Ptarmigan Cirque is another Kananaskis Classic. Located at Highwood Pass, this is a great family hike, provided the path is dry. There are very few hikes that can get you into the Alpine so quickly and easily.

#9. Wasootch Ridge (11.7km, 750m, 5-6h): The Kananaskis regions is famous for ridge walks, and Wasootch Ridge is on the list for the best. The Wasootch Ride hike is also one of the closest hikes to Calgary, and although the unofficial trail is steep, the views are amongst our favorites.

#10. Centennial Pass and Mount Allan (16km, 1,380m, 7-9h): Hiking to the summit of Mount Allan, above the Nakiska Ski hill, makes for a long day, with a lot of elevation, but we love it. This is a different type of scenery from hikes deeper in Kananaskis Country, however still a wonderful hike.

Pocaterra Ridge

01. Pocaterra Ridge

  • Difficulty
  • 12.0km
  • 985m
  • 5-7h

Opal Ridge

02. Opal Ridge

  • Difficulty
  • 6.3km
  • 900m
  • 4-6h

Picklejar Lakes

03. Picklejar Lakes

  • Difficulty
  • 10.5km
  • 500m
  • 3.5-5h

King Creek Ridge

04. King Creek Ridge

  • Difficulty
  • 7.8km
  • 740m
  • 4-5.5h

Rawson Lake & Sarrail Ridge

05. Rawson Lake & Sarrail Ridge

  • Difficulty
  • 7.8km
  • 320m
  • 3.5-6h

Elbow Lake and Rae Glacier

06. Elbow Lake and Rae Glacier

  • Difficulty
  • 9.3km
  • 425m
  • 3.5-5h

Upper Kananaskis Lake

07. Upper Kananaskis Lake

  • Difficulty
  • 16.5km
  • 295m
  • 4-5.5h

Ptarmigan Cirque

08. Ptarmigan Cirque

  • Difficulty
  • 3.5km
  • 195m
  • 1-2h

Wasootch Ridge

09. WASOOTCH RIDGE

  • Difficulty
  • 11.7km
  • 750m
  • 5-6h

Centennial Pass and Mount Allan Summit

10. Centennial Pass and Mount Allan Summit

  • Difficulty
  • 16km
  • 1380m
  • 7-9h

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”

– John Muir