Panorama from the Old Goat Glacier hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis near Canmore
Panorama from the Old Goat Glacier hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis near Canmore

Old Goat Glacier hike

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
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Path of the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreMoraine on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreWaterfall on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreAt the base of the steep scree slope on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreSteep scree slog upon the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreWrong glacier on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail beside a forest on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreSpray Lakes Reservoir from the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreStart of the moraine on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail back on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreGlacier in the distance on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreThe moraine and the glacier on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreView down on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreClear sky on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail of the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmorePretty views of the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail along the trees on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreView of Spray Lakes on the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreSteep rocky path of the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreBeautiful view of the Old Goat Glacier Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreOld Goat Glacier Hike on Smith-Dorrien Trail near Canmore

Old Goat Glacier hike

Distance: 6.0mi
Elevation: 2,313ft
Time: 3.5-5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.3 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

The hike to Old Goat Glacier is a classic Kananaskis hike on the Smith-Dorrien. While not as popular as other trails, this is a fun hike that is great for intermediate hikers who don’t mind a few steep bits. There are great views of the Old Goat Glacier as well as back towards the Spray Lakes Reservoir.

Old Goat Glacier hike Map

Getting there

From the Canmore Nordic Centre, continue west on the Smith-Dorrien (Hwy 742) as it winds up into the Spray Valley for 8.6mi. You’ll come to a sign pointing to your right to go to Spray Lakes West Campground, just before you hit the Spray Lakes Reservoir. Turn right here on West Side Rd and go left on the intersection, from there it’s 0.8mi to the Trailhead.

I’ve done this 29 people have done this
I want to do this 92 want to do this route

About

When to do

When dry

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

At trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Old Goat Glacier
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Old Goat Glacier

From the Old Goat Glacier parking lot, the trail leaves the SW corner of the lot and goes into the trees, loosely following the Old Goat Creek. The trail is a nice meander through the forest. There are a few eroded sections you’ll have to cross, thanks to the flood of 2013.

After 1.0mi you come to a clearing, with pleasant views up to the cirque. Walk across this clearing, following a path through the trees. In 2707ft you come out of the trees and get a nice view. Continue along the path through some more trees that eventually leads you to a scree slope with some large boulders thrown in. Looking up you can tell it’s going to be a steep ascent. There is a pretty waterfall on the right-hand side.

From here the path is steep and might just take your breath away. The path for the hike up is usually fairly obvious, though at times can be challenging to follow and there are several braids of the path. Poles will help as you head up the path, which is worn down in most places. In wet weather this is not a fun route, and we’d suggest choosing a different hike.

Near the top of this boulder field, the path splits and you want to go right as the trail heads across a boulder field and then goes up and curves to the left around the mountain. The path here has boulders and scree on your left and you are on the edge of the trees (on your right). You’ll be wondering where the Old Goat Glacier is at this point.

You continue to walk SE on a good trail and go through a final patch of trees. At this point, you’ll notice a moraine below you on your right. You will be tempted to climb down to the lateral moraine, but stay above it on the clear path, moving uphill until you are well out of the trees. Soon you will see a path leading down on your right. Many people stop here, happy with a great view and not wanting to hike along the moraine.

We prefer to continue onto the moraine, and take the clear path that goes right, down and up to the moraine. From here on up, the weather is typically colder and windier. The route along the moraine is mostly clear, and the trail goes up, then down then back up. As you get farther along the moraine the path becomes fainter and fainter. There are several points on the path where you are right on the edge of the moraine, and a fall would be quite dangerous.

We usually stop about 656ft before the end of the moraine (3.3mi, 2-2.5 hours from the start of the hike). The views are great here, and going forward adds unnecessary risk of rockfall.

You may be tempted to venture down the moraine to explore the Glacier itself. This is a bad idea, adding unnecessary danger for the inexperienced.

Once you’ve enjoyed the stunning views, return the way you came. You’ll get pretty views out to the Spray Lakes Reservoir on the way down. The route back is steep and poles are a great help. If it’s wet the way back can be pretty terrible.

There are a couple of places where it is easy to miss the path on the way down. The first is at the bottom of the upper boulders, were the actual path goes to the right, but another path goes straight.

The other part where it is easy to get on the wrong path is near the end, where you parked the car. As you go through the forest, you’ll see two paths that head off to the left. The destination of the first path is unknown, though we think it’s the other parking lot by the bridge. The second path going to the left goes back to the parking lot. If you miss the second path going left, that’s ok, you simply end up on the road, about 328ft from your car, so all is not lost.

Check out other amazing hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien:

Insider Hints

  • The Old Goat Glacier hike is not a good hike to do when it’s wet or icy. Some sections are very challenging when slippery.

  • This is a hike where you’ll be happy you brought your poles, both for the ascent and descent, as it’s a tricky one.

  • Weather always seems to be a bit chillier on this hike, so even if it’s sunny in Canmore, bring a rain-coat and a fleece with you.

Comments

ccharabin 1 year ago

Went up later in the summer so the glacier was harder to see. I recommend going earlier in the summer and bringing a jacket for the wind when you get to the glacier. A really nice hike. Also please be careful not to walk up to the glacier. We noticed that the glacier is bigger than it appears as parts of it were covered in a light layer of rocks.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
Richy_travels 2 years ago

Exciting hike with great views.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
5h 00m Time Taken
JohnCan 2 years ago

Perfect hike on a beautiful day!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
5h 15m Time Taken
Coll A. 2 years ago

The trail was steep, so you need to be careful. At times, it can be challenging to follow. So slippery and troublesome.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Linby SK. 2 years ago

A fun hike to do! It goes with some challenges, but we were able to manage them. There's a beautiful waterfall there too.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Mike Kowalcyzk 2 years ago

Not busy which is nice sometimes. Some harder portions but nothing too demanding. Nice views of the glacier.

LukeMc 3 years ago

The ascend was a bit challenging because of the slippery rocks, but we enjoyed our overall experience here!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Perry K. 3 years ago

Some part of the trail is difficult but not demanding. The trail was tricky. Overall, we had a fun experience.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Zina SW. 3 years ago

Would be better to bring some poles if you want to visit! The trails are bit tricky!

10.0 Overall Rating
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akaneogawa 3 years ago

The scenery is spectacular! Enjoy. Soak it up!

10.0 Overall Rating
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13 Comments Show all

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