Hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien

Region in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

The best hiking in the Kananaskis is along the Smith-Dorrien, the legendary gravel road that runs up the Spray Valley. Not only are these the best hikes in the Kananaskis, the trails around here are some of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. The best part is that the high-elevation Smith-Dorrien means shorter ascents and more time spent above treeline.

Kananaskis Country, or K – Country, is an undiscovered gem for outdoor lovers, and has fewer crowds than the adjacent Banff National Park. Often overshadowed by nearby Banff National Park, the Kananaskis is still relatively undiscovered. Here we include some of the best hikes in the Spray Valley Provincial Park and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. You’re going to love these great hikes in the Kananaskis!

THE TOP 10 HIKES ON THE SMITH-DORRIEN TRAIL

  1. Burstall Pass (15.0 km, 450 m, 4-6h): This stunning hike is one of the best in all the Kananaskis, if not all of Alberta. This hike ends at the pass with beautiful views. What makes it even better, however, is the route can be extended for experienced hikers to Snow Peak – an absolute wonder.
  2. Windtower (10.7 km, 1,005 m, 5-7h): A hike up Windtower is a stunning hike in Kananaskis. The route goes past West Wind Pass (another great hike) before a bit of route finding until you ascend to the top of Windtower. We love this hike!
  3. Buller Pass (15.5 km, 685 m, 5-7h): Buller Pass is another great intermediate hike with impressive views. If you’ve got the energy, it can also be extended over to Guinn’s Pass or Ribbon Lake, both worthy of the trek.
  4. Tent Ridge (10.4 km, 747 m, 4-6h): The Tent Ridge hike may have the best view in Kananaskis. This is a popular hike, and for good reason. The Tent Ridge hike is incredible. Be warned, there is a bit of scrambling on the way up.
  5. Headwall Lakes (14.9 km, 535 m, 5-7h): Sharing a trail-head with the popular Chester Lake, the hike to Headwall Lakes is a wonderful day out in Kananaskis. Take in stunning, high alpine lakes on this delightful walk.
  6. Rummel Pass (17.6 km, 570 m, 5-6.5h): The hike to Rummel Pass is spectacular, and not nearly as popular as it should be. While hiking to Rummel Lake is a Kananaskis classic, pushing to Rummel Pass is completely worth it, offering interesting terrain and stunning views from Rummel Pass.
  7. Black Prince Lakes and Cirque (13.9 km, 680 m, 4.5-6h): The hike to Black Prince Cirque and then Black Prince Lakes is stunning. This hike takes you to a classic Kananaskis cirque and then the beautiful Black Prince Lakes. It’s hard to believe so few people take the time to hike up to Black Prince Lakes and Black Prince Cirque.
  8. Old Goat Glacier (9.6 km, 705 m, 4-6h): The hike to the Old Goat Glacier is the highlight of this walk, with wonderful views all around. The glacier, unfortunately, has seen better days.
  9. Sparrowhawk Tarns (14.9 km, 720 m, 4.5-6): The pretty hike to the Sparrowhawk Tarns is a hard trail to follow, however once you reach the tarns, the beautiful views make up for the route-finding challenges. Don’t wait until autumn, as the tarns dry up and are not as impressive.
  10. West Wind Pass (5.0 km, 390 m, 2-3.5h): This unofficial trail to West Wind Pass is an underappreciated gem of a hike in Kananaskis. Great views down the Wind Valley and back to the Spray Valley make this a great intermediate hike.

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Best Hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien

Open details for Rummel Lake Hike

Rummel Lake Hike

Moderate
13.3 km
380 m
3.5-5h

The hike to Rummel Lake is a Kananaskis classic, with people returning year after year. The colours in autumn are spectacular, and if you have the energy push the trip a bit farther up to Rummel Pass for very special views.

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 Burstall Pass

Burstall Pass

Moderate
15.5 km
450 m
4-5.5h

The hike to Burstall Pass is an iconic Canmore route for good reason – it's stunning! Although a great trail for intermediates, those with energy can scramble up Snow Peak for one of the best views in the Rockies. And in autumn, the sights of the larches are incredible!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
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 Chester Lake Hike

Chester Lake Hike

Easy
9.3 km
320 m
2.5-3.5h

The Chester Lake hike is a great family route in Canmore, complete with a stunning alpine meadow and glistening lake nestled among towering peaks. The walk is perfect for multiple seasons, whether you come to snowshoe or take a ski tour in winter, or to see the larches change color in autumn. The trail is closed from May to late-June each year to prevent trail damage.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
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 West Wind Pass

West Wind Pass

Easy
5.0 km
390 m
2-2.5h

West Wind Pass is a great hike! It’s not too busy and is a perfect hike for people who want to get stunning views without a ton of elevation gain. We love the vista back to the Spray Lakes Reservoir as well as at the views from West Wind Pass itself.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
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 Rummel Pass

Rummel Pass

Hard
17.6 km
570 m
4.5-6.5h

The hike to Rummel Pass is spectacular, and not nearly as popular as it should be. While hiking to Rummel Lake is a Kananaskis classic, pushing to Rummel Pass is completely worth it, offering interesting terrain and stunning views from Rummel Pass.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
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 Tent Ridge Horseshoe

Tent Ridge Horseshoe

Hard
10.4 km
747 m
4-5.5h

The Tent Ridge hike is spectacular. Tent Ridge is the location for many of the incredible photos you regularly see on social media, showing stunning peaks over the Spray Lakes. Tent Ridge is a wonderful hike, though there is a bit of a scramble on the way up Tent Ridge that some hikers don’t like, which is why we rate this as a 4/5 instead of a 3/5.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Buller Pass

Buller Pass

Moderate
14.6 km
685 m
4.5-6.5h

The hike to Buller Pass is one of the most spectacular in Canmore. It’s perfect for intermediate hikers, and despite the region still recovering from a forest fire, there are beautiful views and wildflowers throughout the trail. Once above treeline enjoy stunning views all the way to the pass!

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
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 Windtower

Windtower

Hard
10.7 km
1,005 m
4.5-6.5h

A hike up Windtower is an underappreciated gem of the Canadian Rockies. First take in West Wind pass and then find the path up Windtower for spectacular views in all directions, especially back towards the Spray Lakes Reservoir. Windtower is one of our favourite hikes in the Kananaskis.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
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 Headwall Lakes

Headwall Lakes

Hard
14.9 km
535 m
4-6h

The Headwall Lakes hike is not as popular as it should be. This walk takes you up into the alpine to a barren and stunning limestone valley and the beautiful Headwall Lakes. Many people hike through this valley on the way to the summit of The Fortress.

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 Sparrowhawk Tarns

Sparrowhawk Tarns

Hard
14.9 km
720 m
4.5-6.5h

The pretty hike to the Sparrowhawk Tarns is a hard trail to follow, however once you reach the tarns, the beautiful views make up for the route-finding challenges. Don’t wait until autumn, as the tarns dry up and are not as stunning.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.

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