Climb up, up, up to some of the most breathtaking vistas in the entire country. Kananaskis is one of the most underrated areas in all of the Canadian Rockies. With vibrant blue lakes, imposing mountains, and abundant trails, its one of the greatest areas to explore. Read all about the 4 best hikes 🥾 in Kananaskis county to add to your bucket list!
Unlike trails in the US, the paths up the mountains in Kananskis seem to go straight up in the air. You’ll definitely have to use your legs 🦵 to push yourself up the mountain. Also, many of these hikes have scree, which is loose rocks on the mountains. It can be hard to navigate, so some of these trails are best for experienced hikers.
My husband and I spent a few weeks exploring the Canadian Rockies. Over the last year, we have gone over hundreds of trails, but the ones in Kananaskis are some of the most difficult yet awe-inspiring ✨✨ that we have ever done. We couldn’t move our legs after doing these trails in just a few days, but it was so worth it!
If you’re ready for a challenge, then you need to visit Kananaskis country. Read below for my complete list of the best hikes in this area. Find out what you need to know before you visit and what to pack for your journey!
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Table of Contents
4 Amazing Hikes in Kananaskis
EEOR (often pronounced like Eeyore) is one of the most popular trails in the entire area. Let me tell you, this trail goes up and UP and UP 📈! You’ll have to climb up over boulders, loose scree, and on rock scrambles along a cliff, but when you make it to the top it will all be worth it!
This hike is one of the most challenging I have ever completed, but also one of the most rewarding. I would do it all again once my legs stopped being sore. You have to try this iconic trail that gets fantastic panoramas over Canmore and the Kanananskis area! (Note: If you want a SLIGHTLY easier trail in the same area, you can choose to do Ha Ling Peak).
EEOR Trail Description
The first thing to know about this trail is there is no trailhead. The path starts along the road on the way to Ha Ling Peak. I recommend downloading the Alltrails map so that you can find your way to the top.
Within just a couple miles you climb up over 2800 feet 😯 and it is quite a challenge. You’ll start the ascent as soon as your feet hits the path. The beginning of the trail goes over boulders, so you’ll want to use your hands and feet.
Then, the next part of the hike will climb straight up over scree and to be honest it feels like the scree is never ending. I just made sure to stop and take my time every few hundred feet. Walking up scree your feet slide down a little bit so it takes longer to climb up.
Finally, you’ll get to the cliffs. Use your hands and stay to the left to grab onto the wall of the cliff. Slowly make your way along the cliff edge until you get to more of the rock scrambles. At the end, you’ll climb up over a few boulders until you reach the summit. From there, you will get unforgettable 360 degree views 👀 over the area. It’s simply stunning.
Quick Hike Stats:
Distance: 3.2-5.1 miles
Elevation: Roughly 2800 feet of gain
Type: Out and Back Trail
Length: 2-5 hours total
Difficulty: Hard (short, steep, with rock scrambles and scree)
Reads Tower sits above Spray Lakes with stunning 360 degree views of the mountains and the lakes below. As soon as you make it about one mile into the trail, you will get stunning views of the lakes behind you. So, when you need to take a break simply stop and enjoy the vistas behind you!
Spray Lakes is one of the most scenic areas in Kananaskis and it will live in my memory forever. I was in complete awe 🤩 as we trekked up the mountain. Reads Tower is an incredibly tough, but I truly believe its one of the best hikes in Kananskis.
Reads Tower Trail Description
Although this trail starts easily enough, it is deceiving. The first mile of the trail takes you through the forest and over a few switchbacks over a slow and steady incline up the mountain.
But, once you get out of the forest, you’ll start to get to a rocky trail. There are very few signs along this part of the hike, so I highly recommend that you have the Alltrails map downloaded 🗺 to way find. This is when the views begin to show behind you and they are truly spectacular.
Continue another mile and you’ll get to a nice hillside with grass. You can choose to stop there and enjoy the landscapes below or from there, you can choose to do the most difficult part of the trail to reach the summit.
The last mile to reach the summit is extremely tough 💪🏻 and you should mentally prepare for the final stretch. The trail to the top is about 1000 miles up in just around a mile and it is completely covered in scree. You’ll be huffing and puffing as you slowly make your way up. I’m pretty sure that I stopped every 50 feet.
Once you reach the top, then you can truly enjoy the 360 degree views all around. Spray Lakes is one of my favorite areas in Kananaskis and despite the difficulty I loved this hike. If you have the energy, you could even continue up to Mount Sparrowhawk or you can go down the way you came.
Quick Hike Stats:
Distance: 5.2 miles
Elevation: Roughly 3000 feet of gain
Type: Out and Back Trail
Length: 2-5 hours total
Difficulty: Hard (the final mile to the summit is 1000 feet of elevation gain)
3) Grassi Lakes
Grassi Lakes is a family friendly trail, but it’s also incredibly unique and beautiful. It’s a must for any first time visitor to the area! Climb through the mountain 🏔, by a waterfall, and then to a vibrant turquoise and aqua lake nestled among the tall cliffs.
Once you get to the end of the hike, then you will see the two lakes. There is also a high chance that you will see owls nestled in the caves of the cliffs across the lake or bighorn sheep climbing around the clifftops. This short hike really packs quite the punch!
Make sure to get there early if you want to get a good parking spot!
Grassi Lakes Trail Description
As soon as you enter the trail, you will begin to climb up through the forest. A little ways into the trail, you’ll see a fork in the path. I recommend that you take the left side which is an interpretive trail.
Walk through the forest 🌳🌳 and then eventually you’ll get views of the Kananaskis area down below as well as the beautiful lake. Then, you’ll get to a view of the waterfalls where you’ll see a series of steps that lead you up to Grassi Lakes. Take your time as you walk up these stairs, because there are more than you think.
Once you get to the top of the stairs, you’ll finally see the trail pointing you towards Grassi Lakes 💦. Continue a little further until you get to the first of the spectacular aqua lakes and walk further to see the other one! Take your time there to truly enjoy the lakes and the surroundings.
Then, continue the loop down the trail to the left. This trail is paved and well-maintained. If you have a stroller, you’re going to want to go this way for both the way there and back. It’s a fantastic hike that you need to add to your bucket list!
Quick Hiking Stats
Distance: 2 miles
Elevation: Roughly 600 feet of gain
Type: Loop Trail
Length: 1-2 hours total
Difficulty: Moderate (there is some elevation gain with stairs)
4) Yates Mountain
Yates Mountain is a fantastic hike if you want to get amazing views without an incredibly difficult challenge. While most hikes in this area have tons of scree, Yates Mountain does not 👍🏻. It is a well maintained trail that leads to gorgeous views over Barrier Lake!
The best part of this trail is that you do not have to get all the way to the top to take in amazing vistas. You can choose to just go part way on the trail to the first main lookout. From there, you can see over the gorgeous blue lakes below and out over the valley!
Yates Mountain Trail Description
First, you’ll park around the Barrier Lake picnic area. Once you’ve parked then you’ll continue around the lake for about half a mile until you see the trail sign that will point you through the forest.
Once you get into the forest, you’ll walk among a series of switchbacks that cuts back and forth ↔️ at a steady incline. It can be tiring, but the real push begins once the switchbacks end.
From the end of the switchbacks, you’ll climb up and up at a steeper incline. Once you’ve gotten about 3 miles in you’ll get to the main lookout. From here, you will get a wonderful picture 📸 over the lake below. You can choose to go on or turn back around.
If you go on, then you can continue for about .2 miles over the rocky ledges to get to the Rocky Outcrop Viewpoint. This was my favorite part of the trail and we actually chose to turn around here. If you do not, then you’ll continue for .4 miles and 400 feet to get to the summit. There is a private residence at the top, but you can use the helipad to get great views.
No matter what you choose, you’ll definitely love this wonderful trail!
Quick Hiking Stats
Distance: 5-7.5 miles
Elevation: 1800-2200 feet of gain
Type: Out and Back
Length: 2-4 Hours total
Difficulty: Moderate (elevation rises steadily, but there’s nothing too tricky)
Hiking Kananaskis Tips
Things to Know About Kananaskis
💵 In order to access the trails here you need to purchase a Kananaskis Conservation Pass. You can pay for an annual pass for $135 (CAD) or purchase daily passes at $22.50.
🪨 Kananaskis hikes are known for having scree or loose rocks. If you are not used to these conditions, then you will want to take it very slowly. My biggest tip is to try and go with the flow while walking down scree and be willing to slide a little.
☀️ Weather can change quickly in the mountains. Thunderstorms are very dangerous at higher elevations, so avoid going on the trails if you see them in the forecast. Scree can also get very slippery when wet, so if it’s raining be careful.
⛺️ There is some backcountry camping in this mountain range. You can learn more about backcountry camping here.
🦮 Pets are permitted on most trails in Kananaskis, but some of the trails may be difficult for your dog. Hiking with dogs is fun, but you should know your pets limits and stay off trails that will be too difficult.
🐻 There are many wildlife encounters in Kananaskis. This area is bear country, so make sure to pack bear spray and hike in groups on these trails!
🚙 You can find parking at most of the trailheads. However, parking at Grassi Lakes can get overcrowded, so you will want to get there early to grab a spot.
🍃 Remember to follow the Leave No Trace Principles. As always, you want to leave nature looking better than you found it.
Best Time to Hike in Kananaskis
Many of the mountains in Kananaskis sit above 10,000 feet. Which means, these mountains see a lot of snow in the winter time. Summer ☀️ tends to start later in this mountain range and snow sticks to the trails into the month of June.
If you want to hike these incredible trails, then you will want to stick to the lower elevation paths in the late spring and early summer. But as soon as you hit late June most of these trails should be snow free.
Kananaskis hiking season is typically from late June through September, which is the best time to get out on the mountain. Trails will be dry, wildflowers will start to peak out, and the temperatures 🌡 will be warmer. However, we went during an early snow melt year and found all of these trails to be snow free in early June. Just check trail conditions before you go!
How to Get to Kananaskis Country
Kananskis is just an hour from the big city of Calgary. In fact, if you are looking for hiking near Calgary, then this is the best spot to go! It’s very simple to get to this area.
From Calgary, you’ll take the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1) for about 50 KM until you start seeing signs for this area. There are various exits 🚗 that you can take to the different hikes in this area. You can also choose to climb through the adorable town of Canmore on your way to these great trails.
Kananaskis Hiking Essentials
The most important tip to hiking in Kananaskis country is to bring hiking poles. Elevation on these mountains is extremely steep, it feels like the mountains just rise straight out of the ground. Hiking poles will save your knees and ensure that your legs stay healthy for more adventure!
Also, Kananaskis is bear country, which means you should hike in groups and pack bear spray 🐻. If you go on the trails try to make noise so that you keep the bears away from you. My additional gear guide is below!
- Comfortable Hiking Boots
- Small Pack
- Hiking Poles
- 1-2 Liters of Water
- Snacks and Food
- First Aid Kit
- Bear Spray
- Bug Spray
- Hat to block sun
- Rain jacket or light winter jacket
- Satellite phone
- Kananaskis Conservation Pass
There are truly so many trails to choose from in this area, but I’ve outlined the 4 best hikes in Kananaskis Country. If you have more time, then make sure to add Ha Ling Peak, Mt Yamnuska, and Tent Ridge to your list! You’ll seriously fall in love with this area of the world!
Let me know if you enjoyed this guide below!
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