Backpacking trails in Kananaskis Country

Region in Alberta, Canada

Backpacking in Kananaskis Country allows you to explore this stunning part of the Canadian Rockies. The Kananaskis is a wonderful and beautiful place to go backpacking. K-Country tends to be much less crowded than the nearby national parks, making is a great place to plan a backcountry escape.

Many of the well-maintained backcountry campsites are situated along stunning lakes, or near pristine waterfalls. Whatever your backpacking checklist includes, you’ll be sure to tick some boxes by going backpacking in Kananaskis.

THE TOP BACKPACKING TRIPS IN KANANASKIS

  1. Turbine Canyon and Three Isle Lake (44.0 km, 2,127 m, 4 - 5 days): The backpack to Turbine Canyon and Three Isle Lake leads you through two alpine passes, canyons, glaciers, and alpine lakes. A backpack trip to Turbine Canyon and Three Isle lake offers a bit of everything for the avid Rockies backpacker.
  2. Weary Creek (50.0 km, 3,500 m, 3 - 4 days): A backpacking trip to Weary Creek Gap and Carnarvon Lake offers a truly wild experience in the Canadian Rockies. There are no official campsites in the area, so you are free to random camp where you see fit! This trip offers plenty of opportunity for scrambling, wildflower viewing, and overall sightseeing.
  3. Elk Lakes and Petain Basin (35.8 km, 1,276 m, 2 -3 days): Petain Basin is a wonderfully remote and isolated meadow lying at the base of some of the tallest peaks in the Rockies. Backpacking to Petain Basin gives you access to one of the largest waterfalls in the Rockies, just a short hike from the campground!
  4. Rae Lake (16.0 km, 375 m, 2 -3 days): Rae Lake is often completed as a day hike, however it is a great place for a quick backpacking trip. Lying at the base of gigantic Mount Rae, Rae Lake is a wonderful place to spend a night, take a swim, and admire the wildflowers and larch forest on nearby ridges.
  5. Big Elbow Loop (45.6 km, 1,050 m, 3-4 days): The Big Elbow Loop is a classic backpacking trip. This easy trip is in country located between Highway 66 and Highway 40. The trek offers scenic campsites next to the Elbow River with wonderful scrambling opportunities near each site.
  6. Tombstone Lake (14.8 km, 391 m, 2-3 days): Resting at the base of jagged Tombstone Mountain, the Tombstone Lakes are a spectacular sight, and the journey to them along the open upper reaches of the Elbow River is equally scenic.
  7. Elbow Lake (4.3 km, 130 m, 2 days): The best family backpack in the Canadian Rockies, this easy backpack is great for families. With an approach to Elbow Lake that’s just over 2 m from the car, this makes it easy to get supplies in and also get out if bad weather or little ones need it.
  8. Lillian and Galatea Lakes (21.1 km, 1,115 m, 2-3 days): The backpack into Lillian Lake is a Friday-night classic. Finish work, get to the trailhead and get to pretty Lillian Lake. The highlight is the easy Saturday wander up to Upper Galatea Lakes and nearby Guinn’s Pass, both incredible places. A great introductory backpack.
  9. Upper Kananaskis Lake (16.5 km, 295 m, 2 days): Another classic introductory backpack in Kananaskis, this trail is often done as a day hike, but it is so pretty that doing it as an overnight makes it a great way to test your gear and enjoy the stunning outdoors.

If you don't want to plan your own trip to the Kananaskis, then have a look at these Alberta Tours! Find some exciting Hiking Tours that are perfect for your next trip! In the Rockies.

Guide-book quality info for over 8,000 trails

View Backpacking trails in Kananaskis Country on Map

View Map

Best Backpacking trails in Kananaskis Country

Open details for Turbine Canyon

Turbine Canyon

Very Hard
48.1 km
2,313 m
3-5 days

The backpack to Turbine Canyon and Three Isle Lake leads you through two alpine passes, canyons, glaciers, and alpine lakes. This classic Kananaskis trip offers a bit of everything for an avid Rockies backpacker.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Weary Creek

Weary Creek

Very Hard
36.0 km
2,738 m
3-4 days

A backpacking trip to Weary Creek Gap and Carnarvon Lake offers a truly wild experience in the Canadian Rockies. This is a very challenging trip, so you should be experienced in route finding and random camping. There are no official campsites in the area, so you are free to random camp where you see fit! This trip offers plenty of opportunity for scrambling, wildflower viewing, and overall sightseeing.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Elk Lakes and Petain Basin

Elk Lakes and Petain Basin

Easy
35.8 km
1,276 m
2-3 days

Petain Basin, just past Elk Lakes, is a wonderfully remote and isolated meadow lying at the base of some of the tallest peaks in the Rockies. Backpacking to Petain Basin gives you access to one of the largest waterfalls in the Rockies, just a short hike from the campground!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
8.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Rae Lake

Rae Lake

Easy
15.6 km
375 m
2-3 days

Rae Lake is often completed as a day-hike, however it is a great place for a quick backpacking trip. Lying at the base of gigantic Mount Rae, Rae Lake is a wonderful place to spend a night, take a swim, and admire the wildflowers and larch forest on nearby ridges.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Big Elbow Loop

Big Elbow Loop

Moderate
42.4 km
1,420 m
3-4 days

The Big Elbow Loop trip is a classic Kananaskis backpacking trip. This is an easy trip that takes you into country between Highway 66 and Highway 40. The Big Elbow backpack offers scenic campsites next to the Elbow River with wonderful scrambling opportunities near each site.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Tombstone Lakes

Tombstone Lakes

Easy
18.8 km
599 m
2-3 days

Resting at the base of jagged Tombstone Mountain, the Tombstone Lakes are a spectacular sight, and the journey to them along the open upper reaches of the Elbow River is equally scenic. If you’re looking for a beautiful, short backpacking trip in the Kananaskis, this should definitely be one you consider.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.3
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Elbow Lake

Elbow Lake

Very Easy
4.3 km
137 m
2-3 days

A family backpacking trip to Elbow Lake is one of the best backpacking trips in the Canadian Rockies. Elbow Lake is a stunning lake, access is just over 2.0 km from the car and there is a nice easy walk along the Elbow River as a daytrip. If you’re looking for your first backpack with your kids, this is it!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Lillian and Galatea Lakes

Lillian and Galatea Lakes

Moderate
17.9 km
1,215 m
2-3 days

Another classic Kananaskis backpacking trip is the backpack to Lillian and Galatea Lakes, with a side-trip to Guinn’s Pass. For years this was a yearly Friday-night classic, finish work, get to the trailhead and get to pretty Lillian Lake. The real highlight of this backpack highlight is the easy Saturday daytrip to Upper Galatea Lakes and nearby Guinn’s Pass, both incredible places. This is another great backpack if you’re just getting into backpacking.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Point Campground and Upper Kananaskis Lake

Point Campground and Upper Kananaskis Lake

Easy
15.7 km
208 m
2 days

Backpacking around Upper Kananaskis Lake is another classic introductory backpack in Kananaskis. While this trail is often done as a day hike, it is so pretty that doing it as an overnight makes it a great way to test your gear and enjoy the stunning outdoors.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

Change happens, fees shouldn't

Other Activities in Kananaskis Country

Essential Tools for Any Adventure

Find a hotel in some of the most beautiful locations on earth.

Book your own car to have complete freedom on your next adventure.

Gear-up for your next adventure.

This page may include affiliate links. We may get a small commission for the purchases made through these links at no additional cost to you.
We only recommend tools we personally think are great.

Related regions

Change happens, fees shouldn't

Recent Stories

Open details for Planning A Trip To Kananaskis Country

Planning A Trip To Kananaskis Country

By Lukas Saville
September 24th, 2019
Detailed Route Guides
Real GPS Coordinates
Reliable Trail Reports
Experienced-Based Travel Tips
GPS App
Extensive Travel Guides

Subscribe to our newsletter

Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

Tours

Routes

Blogs