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16 can’t miss winter hikes in Kananaskis

If you are looking for a list of beautiful winter hikes in Kananaskis that are well suited to a variety of skill levels, you’re in luck.

Kananaskis country is an ideal destination for outdoor recreation, and this is only more true during the winter months. There are many things to do in the winter in Kananaskis. It is near both the picturesque Banff National Park and Calgary, and is a beautiful and peaceful location in itself.

Read on to discover 16 can’t miss winter hikes in Kananaskis.

If this is your first time going winter hiking, take a look at our winter hiking tips below.

There is a really good chance that this post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission (for which we are deeply grateful) at no extra cost to you.

In a hurry, these are the best winter Kananaskis hikes

Overview of the best Kananaskis winter hikes

Here’s a comparison table of all the hikes that we cover in this post. Read on for a short description of all the hikes.

The best winter hikes in Kananaskis

Distance Difficulty level Route type Highlights
Some dramatic views along the trail to troll falls in Canmore Troll Falls and Hay Meadows

3.7 km

Easy

Loop

The waterfall – frozen in the colder winter months!
This winter hike leads through beautiful snow-covered trees Diamond T Loop

4 km

Easy

Loop

The beautiful snow-covered trees that surround you for a majority of the hike
West Wind Pass

2.4 km one way

Moderate

Out & back

The views of the valley from the top
View from the Black Prince Cirque trail Black Prince Cirque Trail to Warspite Lake

4.8 km

Moderate

Loop

The views of Mount Black Prince from Warspite Lake
Mount Lougheed in Kananaskis Alberta Canada Little Lougheed

2.8 km one way

hard

Out & back

The views of the Spray Lakes reservoir from the boulder field
The hike to the top of Ha Ling is for sure one of the best trails in Canmore Ha Ling Peak

3 km one way

Hard

Out & back

The views from the summit are unparalleled!
View from the top of Prairie Mountain Prairie Mountain

3.4 km one way

Moderate

Out & back

The view of the mountains and valley covered in snow that is visible through the trees as you climb
A beautiful and easy winter hike in the provincial parks of Kananaskis Fullerton Loop

6.8 km

Easy

Loop

Hiking through the snowy forest before coming to a beautiful clearing
Rawson Lake, an easy hike in Kananaskis Rawson Lake trail

3.9 km one way

Easy

Out & back

The view of Rawson Lake
Watridge Lake to Karst Springs Trail

4.1 km one way

Easy

Out & back

The views at the end of the Karst Spring Trail
Snowy wooden bridge Ribbon Creek

4.7 km one way

Easy

Out & back

A great hike with beautiful views where you won’t run into too many other hikers along the way
Chester Lake Trail

4.7 km one way

Moderate

Out & back

The large and beautiful meadow surrounded by the mountains
Rummel Lake In Kananaskis Alberta Rummel Lake Snowhoe Trail

5.25 km one way

Moderate

Out & back

The Rummel Lake Trail is less crowded than most of the other trails in the area – a great options for those craving a more peaceful excursion
Sugar Daddy – Sugar Momma Hike

12.4 km

Moderate

Loop

The view of the Elbow River as you ascend
Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail

15.7 km

Moderate

Loop

The view of the Upper Kananaskis Lake
Highway 40 seen from the Pocaterra Ridge Trail Pocaterra Ridge

11.4 km

Hard

Point to point

The beautiful 360 degree views of the mountains

How we made our selection of the best Kananaskis winter hikes

Our selection is based on the distance of the trail, elevation gain, and hikers’ reviews.

Sometimes a trail can be officially marked as moderate even though hiking it may feel like a walk in the park.

Therefore, we not only mention the official ratings of the hike but we also include what previous hikers thought of the trail. This way this travel blog is experience-based and more reliable.

To make it easy to find your next hike we sorted the list below on hiking distance.

Some dramatic views along the trail to troll falls in Canmore

Troll Falls and Hay Meadows

  • Distance: 3.7 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 176 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The waterfall – frozen in the colder winter months!

The Troll Falls and Hay Meadows loop is an easy winter hike, with great views. You can fnd more about this hike here.

This winter hike leads through beautiful snow-covered trees
This winter hike leads through beautiful snow-covered trees

Diamond T Loop

  • Location: Elbow River Provincial Recreation Area
  • Distance: 4 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1 to 1.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 148.7 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The beautiful snow-covered trees that surround you for a majority of the hike

Short description of the trail

The Diamond T Loop hiking trail is a great easy winter hike in Kananaskis, especially for new or beginner hikers.

It has mild elevation gain, and it is great for families with small children or those who are looking for winter hikes with their dogs.

Dogs must remain on a leash throughout the area.

The trail is a loop – if you choose to head clockwise, you will get the steepest part of the hike out of the way at the beginning.

During the winter, this part can have some ice or snow, so be sure to bring ice cleats.

Beyond this point, there is generally less snow on the trail and the sections that have it are much more manageable.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Take Highway 22 from Bragg Creek south. Turn westbound on Highway 66 and drive to Station Flats, which will be located on the right side of the road.

This is where you will find parking and the trailhead.

Where to start the Diamond T Loop hike

The trailhead is located at the southwest corner of the Station Flats parking lot.

What people are saying about this hike

This is an easy trail with kids. There’s enough snow to make it fun, but not enough to make it difficult. We didn’t experience any icy patches.

This is a great hike in the winter! It’s pretty and less crowded than it is during the summer.

Conclusion

The Diamond T Loop is great for those who may not have much experience with hiking snowy trails.

View from the top of the West Wind Pass
View of the Spray Lakes reservoir from the top of the West Wind Pass

West Wind Pass

  • Location: Bow Valley Provincial Park
  • Distance: 2.4 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed:1.5 – 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 351 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The views of the valley from the top

Short description of the trail

While the West Wind Valley is closed between December and mid-June for wildlife safety, the trail itself is open year-round.

Once you find the trailhead off of Spray Lakes Road, the trail itself will be well marked with orange ribbons and a small note indicating the trailhead.

During the winter, this trail will likely be covered in a thick layer of snow. Spikes and hiking poles are essential for safely hiking this route.

Towards the summit, it can get quite windy so be sure you bring a windbreaker.

As you reach the top, there are fewer trees and the view opens up and you will be able to see beautiful views of the valley below.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive on Spray Lakes Drive/Three Sisters Parkway/AB-742 until it becomes Smith-Dorrien Trail.

Continue on AB-742 until you reach Driftwood Day Use Area. Drive 2 kilometers beyond this, and park on the side of the road.

Where to start the West Wind Pass hike

The trailhead is located on the north side of Spray Lakes Road, across from the lake.

What people are saying about this hike

This is a great snowy winter hike for first timers. If you’re nervous about the snow, start with this hike.

The trail is well marked even when there is a lot of snow. We brought spikes and hiking poles which helped a lot!

Conclusion

The West Wind Pass hike is beautiful year-round but is a particularly good winter hike as although it is challenging at points, it is well marked and well maintained.

The Black Prince Cirque trail, one of the best winter hikes in Kananaskis
The Black Prince Cirque Trail leads through a winter wonderland

Black Prince Cirque Trail to Warspite Lake

  • Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  • Distance: 4.8 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 90 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • When to go: Year-Round
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The views of Mount Black Prince from Warspite Lake

Short description of the trail

The Black Prince Cirque Trail is a beautiful mid-length hike with mild elevation gain.

This trail is about one hour each way and is great for families.

The trail takes you through meadows and up a small incline towards the beautiful Warspite Lake.

During the winter months, the water levels may be low or non-existent and the trail is covered with snow. But it is generally packed and easy to walk on, especially if you choose to use ice cleats.

Read our recommendations for ice cleats here.

Once you reach the lake, you can simply enjoy the views, or you can continue on trek around the lake.

There are some small creeks and incredible views of Mount Black Prince – a mountain that stands at 2,939 meters tall.

Directions

Drive along the Trans-Canadian Highway, and take the exit for Highway 40.

Turn right when you approach the signs for Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes.

Proceed along this route until you find the Black Prince Day Use Area.

Where to start the Black Prince Cirque Trail hike

The trailhead is located off of the parking lot of the Black Prince Day Use Area, near the outhouses.

What people are saying about this hike

This is a great winter hike! We used snowshoes but we would have been just fine with ice cleats.

We hiked this trail in the winter. The snow was packed so it was easy to hike.

Conclusion

The Black Prince Cirque Trail is a great winter hike in Kananaskis for families and for hikers of most skill levels.

While there will likely be snow during the winter, the trail is well maintained and well-traveled so the snow is generally packed and not too icy. 

The views of Mount Black Prince from Warspite Lake are beautiful as well!

Mount Lougheed in Kananaskis Alberta Canada
The Little Lougheed trail offers impressive views on Mount Lougheed

Little Lougheed

  • Location: Spray Valley Provincial Park
  • Distance: 2.8 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time needed: 4-5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 721 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: No dogs
  • Highlights: The views of the Spray Lakes reservoir from the boulder field

Short description of the trail

Little Lougheed trail is a mid-length, but steep hike that is challenging but doable during the winter months.

It is recommended to bring ice cleats on this hike.

Throughout the winter, the depth of the snow varies, but certain stretches of the hike tend to have deeper snow or ice.

During the snowier months, the trail may be less visible so it may take some time to find the correct path.

The trail first takes you through the forest, before reaching a boulder field. At this point, you will be able to turn around and see incredible views of the Spray Lakes reservoir.

The final portion of the hike is steep and involves scrambling.

If you have hiking poles, it is worth bringing them for this section alone.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

From the Canmore Nordic Centre, drive on the Three Sisters Parkway/Smith Dorrien Spray Trail. The road eventually becomes a dirt road.

You will see a sign that you enter the Spray Valley Provincial Park and pass the parking lot for Goat Creek/Ha Ling Peak. Keep on following this road and you will arrive at Spray Lakes Reservoir.

Once you arrive at the Spray Lakes Reservoir you will see a sign for the Spray Lakes West Campground. Continue straight, keeping the lake on your right. The trailhead is 7.4 kilometers past this fork.

There is no official sign, you can use Google Maps and search for “Little Lougheed Trailhead” and it will tell you when you’re there.

You can park your car on the side of the road.

Where to start the Little Lougheed hike

The trailhead is located left of Spencer Creek. It might be hard to find Spencer Creek in winter as it’s just a narrow creek and it will most likely be hidden underneath thick layers of snow.

There is no sign, so it is helpful to use your phone maps to locate it.

What people are saying about this hike

There’s a lot of snow but when we went it was packed down which made it much easier!

You need spikes for this, especially towards the end! It wouldn’t hurt to bring hiking poles.

Conclusion

Little Lougheed is a challenging but doable safe winter hike. During the snowy months, it’s generally well packed, but ice cleats are recommended.

Ha Ling Peak

  • Distance: 3 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time needed: 3-4 Hours
  • Elevation gain: 737 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The views from the summit are unparalleled!

Ha Ling Peak is a steep and challenging winter hike near Kananaskis with incredible views of the Bow River once you reach the summit.

The rewarding view after hiking to the top of Prairie Mountain in the winter.
The rewarding view after hiking to the top of Prairie Mountain in the winter.

Prairie Mountain

  • Location: Kananaskis Country Public Land Use Zone
  • Distance: 3.4 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 667 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The view of the mountains and valley covered in snow that is visible through the trees as you climb

Short description of the trail

The Prairie Mountain trail is an out and back trail that is enjoyable throughout the year but is even more incredible throughout the snowy winter months.

There is a restroom located near the parking lot that is cleaned and maintained throughout the year.

The first portion of the trail is a climb with some steep spots, and that same route can be slick with ice on the way down so it’s important to bring ice cleats. Hiking poles are also a great option.

Portions of the trail will have you surrounded by trees, and the gaps in the forestry allow you to see beautiful views of the surrounding area as you ascend.

This trail is a great workout, and can be quite challenging at points. Some hikers use this route to build endurance and train for other hikes.

The earlier in the day you go, the less crowded it will be.

If you start the hike early in the morning to witness the sunrise, you will be able to get a beautiful and memorable view.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive on Highway 22, past Bragg Creek towards Highway 66. Take Highway 66 to reach the Elbow Falls parking lot.

During the winter highway closure, you can park on the mountain-side of the highway, just past the Elbow Falls parking lot entrance, which will also bring you closer to the trailhead.

The Elbow Falls parking lot is located on the left side of the highway just west of the winter gate. If the parking lot is complete, you can also park on the side of the road.

Where to start the Prairie Mountain hike

The trailhead is located across from the Elbow Falls parking lot, next to the winter gates.

What people are saying about this hike

A really nice and challenging winter hike! You definitely need spikes, and prepare yourself because it’s definitely a pretty steep climb to the top. The benefit is it’s a quick journey on the way back!

Conclusion

The Prairie Mountain hike is a challenging and popular winter hike in Kananaskis.

Although you can enjoy it throughout the year, seeing the landscape covered in snow is a unique and memorable experience.

A beautiful and easy winter hike in the provincial parks of Kananaskis

Fullerton Loop

  • Location: Elbow River Provincial Recreation Area
  • Distance: 6.8 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 239 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: Hiking through the snowy forest before coming to a beautiful clearing

Short description of the trail

Fullerton Loop is one of the best hiking trails in Kananaskis.

If there is enough snow on the ground, this is also a great option for a snowshoeing trail.

Once you start this hike, you will proceed for 20 minutes before you come to a fork in the road to start the actual loop.

You can start with the stairs on the left, which will get most of the challenging elevation gain out of the way upfront.

The pathway is an easier option with a more gradual incline. 

This trail takes you through the forest for most of the route, but there are moments where you will come to clearings.

The experience of hiking through the snow-covered trees is one you are sure to remember.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

From Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W, take exit 161A for AB-22 S toward Bragg Creek/Redwood Meadows. Merge onto AB-22.

Continue through the roundabout to stay on AB-22. Turn right onto AB-66 W and then turn onto Ranger Creek Road to access the parking area.

If that parking lot is complete you can also park your car in the Allen Bill Day use area at the opposite side of the street.

Where to start the Fullerton Loop hike

The trailhead is located near the parking area along Ranger Creek Road.

Restrooms are located at the Allen Bill Day Use parking area at the opposite side of Hwy 66.

What people are saying about this hike

The trail is well packed so you don’t need any heavy snow equipment, but ice cleats won’t hurt! We saw some people with snowshoes but they probably wouldn’t be necessary unless it just snowed.

We decided to save the staircase for the end and went with the gradual uphill and it worked well for us!

Conclusion

Fullerton Loop is a great trail year-round, but is especially beautiful during the snowy winter months.

Rawson Lake, an easy hike in Kananaskis
Rawson Lake in Summer

Rawson Lake Trail

  • Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  • Distance: 3.9 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5 to 2 hours
  • Elevation gain: 363 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The view of Rawson Lake

Short description of the trail

The Rawson Lake Trail is a long and easy hike that has elevation gain but does not get significantly steep at any one point.

During the winter months, the trail is well packed and well marked.

Be sure to avoid the lakeshore trail during the winter: if you go beyond the advised and maintained winter route, you will be in avalanche terrain.

The view of Rawson Lake is stunning.

It is located at the base of a large rock face and framed by trees, and the sight of this landscape blanketed in snow will make for an incredible photograph – or a beautiful view to experience in person!

How to reach the starting point of the hike

From the Trans-Canada Highway, head east and take exit 118. Turn right onto Kananaskis Trail/AB-40S. Next, turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail/AB-742.

Turn right onto Smith Dorrien Trail/AB-742 and then turn left onto Kananaskis Lake Trail.

The parking lot and the Day Use area will be at the end of the road.

Where to start the Rawson Lake hike

The trailhead is located off of the parking lot for Upper Kananaskis Lake.

What people are saying about this hike

A lovely winter hike! We didn’t need snowshoes, but poles and spikes were helpful.

Conclusion

This is a beautiful winter hike that is great for intermediate to advanced hikers.

(Photo credits: Artix Kreiger 2)

Watridge Lake to Karst Spring Trail

  • Location: Spray Valley Provincial Park
  • Distance: 4.5 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy to Watridge Lake, Moderate to Karst Spring (the last 0.5 kilometer)
  • Time needed: 2.5 hours
  • Elevation gain: 302 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs are not permitted on ski trails, but are allowed on hiking trails as long as they remain on a leash
  • Highlights: The views at the end of the Karst Spring Trail

Short description of the trail

Watridge Trail is a well-maintained trail with wide gravel pathways that is classified as easy.

The trail takes you through a forested area, and you can periodically experience beautiful mountain views along the way.

When you see the sign for the Karst Spring Trail, follow it. It will first get you to the lake and soon after it takes you up the mountain. This trail is very steep, but short, and ends at a viewing platform.

When hiking on these trails, be sure to avoid the ski trails to help maintain them.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Drive on Highway 742, and turn onto Mount Shark Road. There is a parking lot at the end of the road.

Where to start the Watridge Lake to Karst Springs Trail hike

The trailhead is at the entrance to the Mount Shark Parking Lot

What people are saying about this hike

Beautiful hike! It was a great one to bring my dog along for.

We brought ice cleats but didn’t need them. We probably would have if it was any snowier or icier, so I would say it’s best to bring them and be prepared.

Conclusion

Watridge Trail is an easy but long hike that covers an old forestry road. The short extension on Karst Spring Trail is a definite highlight and ends at a viewing platform.

Snowy wooden bridge
The trail passes several wooden bridges

Ribbon Creek

  • Location: Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area
  • Distance: 4.7 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Easy
  • Time needed: 2.5 – 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 150 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: A great hike with beautiful views where you won’t run into too many other hikers along the way

Short description of the trail

The Ribbon Creek trail is a dog-friendly winter hike in Kananaskis. It starts at the Ribbon Creek Day Use area from where you follow the orange trail markers.

The trail winds around the eponymous creek, crossing it several times on newly-built bridges. Some of them have stairs which may become icy. The path is commonly used by snowshoers and the steps are wide enough to support snowshoes.

Sections of the trail are also shared with fat bikers and cross-country skiers. Please avoid walking on the ski-tracks and make sure to yield to skiers on the downhill sections, some of them achieve high speeds at these sections.

This is a great hike for those who are new to hiking in the snow.

In summer the trail leads all the way up to Ribbon Lake, during winter it stops at the Link Trail Junction.

If you go past this you will find yourself in avalanche terrain. You can recognize this point by the bike racks.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Head east on Trans-Canada Highway/AB-1 E. Take exist 118 toward Kananaskis Country/Boundary Ranch/Mount Kidd R.V. Park, and then turn right onto Kananaskis Trail/AB-40 S.

Turn right onto Mt Allan Drive, and then turn left onto Centennial Dr.

Turn right onto Ribbon Creek Rd and turn into the Ribbon Creek Day Use Area.

Where to start the Ribbon Creek hike

The trailhead is located at the west end of the day use area

What people are saying about this hike

The trails are nicely groomed and we could get through it with durable hiking boots. It would be better if we had brought spikes!

The parking lot was full before noon – come early if you’re coming on the weekend!

Conclusion 

The Ribbon Creek hike is a great option for those who are new to hiking in the snow.

Autumn colors seen from the Chester Lake Trail

Chester Lake Trail

  • Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  • Distance: 4.7 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Elevation gain: 419 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The large and beautiful meadow surrounded by the mountains

Short description of the trail

Chester Lake Trail is an easy but incredible hike. Dogs are allowed on this trail, but they must be on leash throughout.

The beginning of the hike will be steep, but don’t let that intimidate you. After the first 2 kilometers, the trail levels out.

Most of the elevation gain is found in those initial 2 kilometers.

During the winter months, the area receives quite a bit of snow so we advise bringing ice cleats. If you don’t have any, read our list of recommendations here.

The Chester Lake area also has trails for skiers. If you come to hike or snowshoe, be sure to avoid the designated ski trails.

The trail continues and is generally wide and consists of a gravel or dirt packed pathway.

As you keep going, the trail opens up to a stunning meadow. Stop and enjoy the view of the mountains and trees covered in snow from this point before continuing on to the lake.

When you arrive at the lake, you can choose to hike around it. This portion of the trail is less maintained, but still manageable.

Be sure to stick to the trail, as if you start to hike uphill at this point you may be in an avalanche risk zone.

Directions

From the Trans-Canada Highway, head east and take exit 118. Turn right onto Kananaskis Trail/AB-40S.

Next, turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail/AB-742.

Turn right onto Smith Dorrien Trail/AB-742 and continue for 20.2 kilometers. The trailhead will be on the right.

Where to start the Chester Lake Trail hike

The trailhead is located off of the Chester Lake parking lot.

What people are saying about this hike

Beautiful and scenic winter hike! We brought snowshoes, but probably would have been fine with just ice cleats.

The sight of the snow on the trees made everything look like a postcard. We took some amazing pictures!

Conclusion

The beautiful dog-friendly Chester Lake Trail is a beautiful winter hike that starts out with a short and steep uphill climb and levels out to become an easy trail that is manageable for many skill levels.

Rummel Lake In Kananaskis Alberta
Rummel Lake in Summer

Rummel Lake Snowshoe Trail

  • Location: Spray Valley Provincial Park
  • Distance: 5.25 kilometers one way
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3.5-4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 453.8 meters
  • Route type: Out and Back
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The Rummel Lake Trail is less crowded than most of the other trails in the area – a great options for those craving a more peaceful excursion

Short description of the trail

The Rummel Lake Snowshoe Trail is a well-maintained winter hike in Kananaskis, which takes hikers through the forest.

This route has an Avalanche Terrain Exposure Scale of Class 1. It is crucial that you read the avalanche report and stick to the maintained and marked trail.

Rummel Lake is a great backcountry destination for a variety of outdoor activities including, of course, hiking.

It is one of the many beautiful trails located in Kananaskis, but it is far less crowded than the others.

As you proceed along the trail, watch for a sharp 90 degree turn. If you miss this turn, you will end up at Chester Lake (a beautiful but different hiking route).

If you take the 90-degree turn, you will come to a fork.

Take the winter route, as the summer route will be an avalanche hazard during the winter.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

From Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W, take exit 93 toward Three Sisters Parkway/Bow River Campground.

Turn left onto Three Sisters Pkwy/AB-742, and then follow it as it turns through the valley.

You’ll know you are close when you see a turn-off for Mount Engadine lodge. Park off of the road near this junction.

Where to start the Rummel Lake Snowshoe Trail hike

The trail starts from the road, opposite of the Engadine Lodge turn-off.

What people are saying about this hike

This trail is so nice in the winter! It’s well maintained but make sure you stay on the designated trail otherwise you might sink into the snow.

Conclusion

The Rummel Lake Snowshoe Trail is a great choice for a more experienced hiker who is looking for a less traveled and more isolated location.

Sugar Daddy – Sugar Momma Hike

  • Location: Elbow River Provincial Park
  • Distance: 12.4 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3-4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 345 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The view of the Elbow River as you ascend

Short description of the trail

The Sugar Daddy/Sugar Momma hikes are part of the West Bragg/Elbow Trail System.

These trails are shared with fat bikers during winter, so be sure to keep an eye out and yield to them.

The route starts off with a small section of the Elbow trail. You will come past the junction of the Fullerton Loop. At the next junction, go left to start the Sugar Momma hike. The trail is marked, but some of the signs may be harder to spot.

The sugar mommy trail follows a ridge and gradually climbs about 400 meters. Don’t continue on the Ranger Summit trail, instead make a right. You will now soon arrive at Baruch’s corner, one of the best views of the hike.

Continue this way and make a right again at the first junction. This is the Sugar Daddy trail that will take us back down to the Elbow river.

Most of the trail is forested but every once in a while there are nice views of the hills surrounding you and the Elbow River below.

There are clearings along the top portion of the hike that are great for taking breaks, and even eat a picnic if weather permits.

Be sure to carry out any trash that you bring in.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

From Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W, take exit 161A for AB-22 S toward Bragg Creek/Redwood Meadows. Merge onto AB-22.

Continue through the roundabout to stay on AB-22.

Turn right onto AB-66 W and then turn onto Ranger Creek Road to access the parking area. If that parking lot is complete you can also park your car in the Allen Bill Day use area on the opposite side of the street.

Where to start the Sugar Daddy – Sugar Momma hike

The trailhead is located near the parking area along Ranger Creek Road.

Restrooms are located at the Allen Bill Day Use parking area at the opposite side of Hwy 66.

What people are saying about this hike

Great hike with beautiful views! Not very crowded during the winter months which was a definite plus.

We brought ice cleats which really helped. You probably wouldn’t need snowshoes, but ice cleats are a must.

Conclusion

This is a moderate trail that includes some challenging points, but you are rewarded with incredible views of the surrounding area.

In the winter, this trail is also not as crowded.

It is also safe – there is minimal avalanche risk along this route.

Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail

  • Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  • Distance: 15.7 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Moderate
  • Time needed: 3.5 to 4 hours
  • Elevation gain: 453 meters
  • Route type: Loop
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on a leash
  • Highlights: The view of the Upper Kananaskis Lake

Short description of the trail

The Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail is a long but gentle hike through some beautiful scenery.

The trail is well maintained and stays relatively flat and even throughout, but the moderate rating comes from the length of the trail.

While this is a popular winter hike in Kananaskis, it is less crowded during the winter months.

The trail will likely be covered in snow but is generally well packed and easy to traverse, especially with ice cleats.

Portions of the trail will have deep snow – snowshoes will help with this as well.

This route will take you through a field of boulders, through forested areas, across bridges, and towards a beautiful lake. You will also come across a beautiful frozen waterfall.

The majority of the hike takes you through the forest and at the midpoint of the hike, you will get to experience the view of the Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail.

The trail also has various day-use areas.

Although the hike may be too long to complete with small children or those who are not as experienced hikers, portions of the hike combined with the day-use areas provide a great excursion.

Directions

Drive from the Trans-Canada Highway, and take exit 118 towards Kananaskis Country/Boundary Ranch/Mount Kidd R.V. Park.

Next, turn right onto Kananaskis Trail/AB-40 S. Next, turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail/AB-742 and follow this road for 13km until you reach the parking lot of the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day use area.

Where to start the Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail hike

The trailhead is located off of the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day Use Area. For the best experience we suggest hiking the trail counter clockwise.

What people are saying about this hike

It’s an easy hike but it’s long! We went on a snowy day and we didn’t have issues with ice. We did bring ice cleats just in case.

It’s an easy snowy hike. It’s a long loop but we went in for an hour and then turned back to make it work for us.

Conclusion

This trail is rated above easy due to the length, but the path is fairly level and well maintained.

The route takes you through beautiful forested areas with periodic views of the surrounding area.

During the winter you can complete the hike easily with ice cleats while enjoying picturesque views of the trees covered in snow.

Highway 40 seen from the Pocaterra Ridge Trail
View from top of the Pocaterra Ridge

Pocaterra Ridge

  • Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
  • Distance: 11.4 kilometers
  • Difficulty level: Hard
  • Time needed: 6 hours
  • Elevation gain: 763.8 meters
  • Route type: Point to point
  • Dog-friendly: Dogs allowed; must be on leash
  • Highlights: The beautiful 360 degree views of the mountains

Short description of the trail

The Pocaterra Ridge trail is a point to point trail, which means you will have to coordinate leaving one car at one end, and driving to the other to start.

You can also do a portion of the trail as an out and back trail if you do not have access to two cars.

This way you can choose how long of a hike you would like to complete

The first portion of the trail takes hikers through the woods.

You will likely need ice cleats, and warm hiking boots and poles are recommended.

Portions of the initial section of the trail can get confusing as there are several other intersecting trails.

It is recommended that you download a copy of the trail map to your phone, or print out a copy, as it is unlikely that you will be able to use your cell service while on the hike.

Once you arrive at the ridge the trail is very well defined and easy to follow.

At the highest points of the hike, you will be able to see beautiful views of the mountains surrounding you.

How to reach the starting point of the hike

Take Highway 40 south from the Stoney Nakoda Casino until you arrive at the Highwood Pass Parking Lot. This is roughly 65 km.

Note that this highway is closed between December and mid-June.

Where to start the Pocaterra Ridge hike

The trailhead is located off of the Highwood Pass parking lot.

It is possible to do the hike in the opposite direction, starting from the Little Highwood Pass parking lot.  As this parking lot is located lower in the valley it would mean 282 meters more of elevation gain.  We therefore recommend starting at the Highwood Pass Parking lot.

What people are saying about this hike

Bring snowshoes or spikes! The first part of the hike would be fine without, but partway through the snow gets deep and you’ll be glad you brought them.

Beautiful views, especially in the winter!

Conclusion

Pocaterra Ridge is a beautiful but challenging point to point hike. The 360 degree views of the mountain when you are at the highest elevation are incredible.

Winter Hiking Tips

Let start this post by sharing some general winter hiking tips.


Be Prepared

Preparation is the key to make your hiking trip hazard-free.

Keep in mind that mountain weather changes frequently. So we advise you to check the weather forecast and the trail conditions before you go winter hiking in Banff.

You might not get cell phone coverage in Banff and during hiking. Call 911 or satellite phone 403-762-4506 in case of an emergency.

Tell a reliable person where you are going and when you are planning to get back.


Be Avalanche Aware

Before you start, study thoroughly about the spots where you are going. In winter, trails are snow-covered, and there is every chance of them being treacherous in look.

Therefore you may face trouble in finding your desired road and end up taking the wrong one instead. These kind of incidents may lead you to a difficult situation, so check the trail map and trail conditions beforehand.

Avalanche hazard occurs from November to June. Trails above the tree line (2000 m) may be exposed to danger. Snow-covered steep slopes are also at risk of avalanche.

90% of victims trigger their own avalanche, don’t be one of them.

Hiking with snowshoes
First-time ever we hiked with snowshoes, it was a lot of fun!

Carry the right equipment

  • Ice cleats: Since trails are often icy during winter, we recommend that you bring ice cleats. Here you can find an overview of the best ice cleats for walking. If you are wearing boots have a look at our post in which we share the best ice grippers for boots.
  • It can be useful to bring hiking poles. For an overview of the best budget trekking poles, click here.
  • Winter hiking leggings: Winter hiking leggings are different from your regular tights and yoga pants. A lot of them are designed to protect you from the elements, weather, bugs, sweat, and moisture. Some of these leggings also act as a base layer if needed.
  • Winter hiking boots: Good winter hiking boots are indispensable if you go hiking in Banff during winter. Please ensure that you are wearing winter hiking boots with traction.
  • Snow pants: Or some other kind of insulated and waterproof pants that will keep you warm even as you sink knee-high in the snow or accidentally trip and fall.
  • Sunglasses: The sun reflects on the snow and makes sunglasses indispensable
  • Finally, we advise you to bring a warm hat, scarf, and gloves


Dress in layers

The weather can be very fickle. We experienced how a bright and sunny day can change into an inclement winter day in a matter of hours.

Although the temperature may feel OK when you start your day down in the village it may be a lot colder if you are higher up on the mountains and exposed to frisk winds.

Therefore, one of the most important tips we can give you is to dress in layers.

Conclusion

Kananaski Country is an unparalleled destination for winter hikes of all skill levels. This list of 16 hikes is sure to have at least a few options that are perfect for you.

Can’t get enough of winter hikes? Work your way through this list of Banff winter hikes next!

Not sure what to wear? Here are some recommendations for best winter leggings to wear while hiking.

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