Kananaskis Trail Hikes

Region in Alberta, Canada

The Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40) is a good road through the Kananaskis Valley, the Kananaskis Lakes and into the Highwood region, offering some of the best hiking in the Canadian Rockies. This well-maintained road takes in parts of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park as well.

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 a couple of sections. This section covers the central Kananaskis Valley, the Kananaskis Lakes and into the Highwood, which are all accessed by Highway 40. 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.

The wonderful Kananaskis is a true playground for outdoor lovers. The best hikes here are mostly intermediate and advanced hikes, but the Kananaskis Region is also a great place for family hikes and there are two on our list. You’re going to love these hikes!

#1. Pocaterra Ridge (12.0km, 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. Guinn’s Pass (18.3km, 980m, 5-7h): The new trail to Guinn’s Pass is spectacular. While the hike to Lillian Lake is through forest, from there the views are outstanding. This hike takes in Lillian lake, Lower Galatea Lake and then up to Guinn’s Pass.

#5. King’s Creek Ridge (7.3km, 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.

#6. Sarrail Ridge (11.5km, 670m, 3.5-6h): The hike to Sarrail Ridge offers some of the most stunning views in the Canadian Rockies, it is truly spectacular. The final push up Sarrail Ridge is also perhaps the steepest hike we share in the Canadian Rockies. The informal route is degraded and challenging, and not one we’d do when wet or icy.

#7. Lillian and Galatea Lakes (16.7km, 740m, 5-7h): The hike to Galatea Lakes is spectacular. While the hike to Lillian Lake is through forest, from there the views are outstanding, especially the circuit around Lower Galatea Lake. This hike takes in Lillian lake, Lower Galatea Lake and Upper Galatea Lake.

#8. 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.

#9. 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.

#10. 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.

Read More

01. Pocaterra Ridge
Difficulty

12.0km 985m 5-7h

The wonderful hike along Pocaterra Ridge is a stunner! A challenging hike, but with spectacular views, we love hiking Pocaterra…

02. Opal Ridge
Difficulty

6.3km 900m 4-6h

The hike along Opal Ridge is a wonderful hike. This steep hike requires the use of hands to steady you…

03. Picklejar Lakes
Difficulty

10.5km 500m 3.5-5h

Some Calgarians rate Picklejar Lakes as their absolute favourite hike in the Canadian Rockies. It’s not hard to see why.…

04. Guinn's Pass
Difficulty

18.3km 980m 5-7h

The trail to Guinn’s Pass is spectacular, offering stunning views. This hike takes in Lillian Lake, Lower Galatea Lake and…

05. King Creek Ridge
Difficulty

7.3km 740m 4-5.5h

The hike up King Creek Ridge is spectacular – offering the chance to get up close with the spectacular Opal…

06. Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake
Difficulty

11.5km 670m 3.5-6h

The hike to Sarrail Ridge offers some of the most stunning views in the Canadian Rockies, it is truly spectacular.…

07. Lillian and Galatea Lakes
Difficulty

16.7km 740m 5-7h

The hike to Galatea Lakes is spectacular. The first bit to Lillian Lake is through forest, the route above Lillian…

08. Rae Glacier
Difficulty

9.3km 425m 3.5-5h

The hike to Elbow Lake is a wonderful, family-friendly hike in the Highwood Area. Adventurous types will want to continue…

09. Upper Kananaskis Lake
Difficulty

16.5km 295m 4-5.5h

The hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake offers tremendous views, varied terrain and limited elevation gain – a great trail for…

10. Ptarmigan Cirque
Difficulty

3.5km 195m 1-2h

The hike to Ptarmigan Cirque is a family favourite and is especially great for little kids. Starting at Highwood Pass…

11. Centennial Pass and Mount Allan Summit
Difficulty

16.0km 1,380m 7-9h

The Centennial Pass and Mount Allan Summit is the highest maintained trail in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a true pinnacle…

12. Wasootch Ridge
Difficulty

11.7km 750m 5-6h

Wasootch Ridge is an easy choice as one of the best hikes near Canmore. Once you are up on the…

13. Elbow Lake
Difficulty

4.3km 130m 1-2h

The hike to Elbow Lake is a wonderful, family-friendly hike in the Highwood Area. It’s also the perfect first backpack…

14. Rawson Lake
Difficulty

7.8km 320m 1.5-3h

The hike to Rawson Lake is one of the most popular in the Kananaskis Lakes area. It’s a pleasant path…

15. Troll Falls
Difficulty

3.7km 60m 1-2h

Troll Falls is a classic, family-friendly hike near Nakiska, that’s popular year-round. While Troll Falls is nice, our favourite part…