Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien Hikes

Region in Alberta, Canada

The Smith-Dorrien, the legendary gravel road that runs up the Spray Valley, has 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. Arguably the best part of K – Country is the Smith Dorrien Highway (Hwy 742), which we cover here.

Often overshadowed by nearby Banff National Park, the Kananaskis is really a place for locals, and most people are from the Bow Valley or Calgary. 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 hikes!

The Smith-Dorrien connects Canmore with the Kananaskis Lakes on a well-maintained gravel road. The hikes accessed from the Smith-Dorrien are wonderful. Starting at a higher elevation means that there is usually less elevation gain! Here we share some of the greatest hikes in the Kananaskis region and include the Spray Valley Provincial Park as well as parts of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.

#1. Burstall Pass (15.0km, 450m, 4-6h): This stunning 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 (10.7km, 1005m, 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 (14.6km, 685m, 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 (10.4km, 747m, 4-6h): Tent Ridge may be 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 (14.7km, 535m, 5-7h): Sharing a trail-head with 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 (16.2km, 570m, 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 (11.8km, 680m, 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 (9.6km, 705m, 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 (13.7km, 720m, 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 (5.0km, 390m, 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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01. Burstall Pass
Difficulty

15.0km 450m 4-6h

The hike to Burstall Pass is an iconic Canmore route for good reason – it's stunning! Although a great trail…

02. Windtower
Difficulty

10.7km 1,005m 5-7h

A hike up Windtower is an underappreciated gem of the Canadian Rockies. First take in West Wind pass and then…

03. Buller Pass
Difficulty

14.6km 685m 5-7h

The hike to Buller Pass is one of the most spectacular in Canmore. It’s perfect for intermediate hikers, and despite…

04. Tent Ridge Horseshoe
Difficulty

10.4km 747m 4-6h

The Tent Ridge hike is spectacular. Tent Ridge is the location for many of the incredible photos you regularly see…

05. Headwall Lakes
Difficulty

14.7km 535m 5-7h

The Headwall Lakes hike is not as popular as it should be. This walk takes you up into the alpine…

06. Rummel Pass
Difficulty

16.2km 570m 5-6.5h

The hike to Rummel Pass is spectacular, and not nearly as popular as it should be. While hiking to Rummel…

07. Black Prince Lakes and Cirque
Difficulty

11.8km 680m 4.5-6h

The hike to Black Prince Cirque and then Black Prince Lakes is stunning. This hike takes you to a classic…

08. Old Goat Glacier
Difficulty

9.6km 705m 4-6h

The hike to Old Goat Glacier is a classic Kananaskis hike on the Smith-Dorrien. While not as popular as other…

09. Sparrowhawk Tarns
Difficulty

13.7km 720m 4.5-6h

The pretty hike to the Sparrowhawk Tarns is a hard trail to follow, however once you reach the tarns, the…

10. West Wind Pass
Difficulty

5.0km 390m 2-3.5h

West Wind Pass is a great hike! It’s not too busy and is a perfect hike for people who want…

11. Chester Lake
Difficulty

9.3km 320m 1.5-3h

The hike to Chester Lake is a great family route in Canmore, complete with a stunning alpine meadow and glistening…

12. Rummel Lake
Difficulty

12.5km 380m 3.5-5h

The hike to Rummel Lake is a Kananaskis classic, with people returning year after year. The colours in autumn are…

13. Black Prince Interpretive Trail / Warspite Lake
Difficulty

4.6km 125m 1-2h

The hike on the Black Prince Interpretive Trail is a great family-friendly hike on the Smith-Dorrien. The trip takes you…