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Here are 25 of our favourite hikes in Alberta

Canada doesn't have a shortage of breathtaking views, but Alberta has some of the finest on the planet. The province boasts massive mountains, plenty of lakeside scenery, and hiking trails accessible to those of all skill levels. It was hard for us to pick the best spots to check out in Alberta because there are so many options, but we always go for the treks with fantastic scenery and something for everyone. Whether you're a skilled hiker seeking off-trail options or a beginner looking to escape the world for a while, here are our best Alberta hiking spots. 

 

Cavell Meadows (Jasper National Park)

Is it even possible to write about Alberta trails without starting with Jasper National Park and all it has to offer? How can we even narrow down one trail in the park to talk about? We settled on Cavell Meadows, but, honestly, there are so many options in this park. Cavell Meadows is an experienced hike because it has many rocky parts, but you can make the trek if you are an intermediate hiker. Flowers abound on this trail, and you'll quickly discover that mountains surround you on every side somewhere in the middle of this hike. No dogs are allowed because of the abundant caribou population, so leave your pup at home. 

Cavell Meadows, photo by Kurt Morrison @kurtmorrison

 

Johnston Canyon Trail (Banff National Park)

Distance: 5km

Elevation: 235m

Hiking Time: 1 hour

When a short hike that's not hard but is rewarding is what you're seeking, head to Banff National park and the Johnston Canyon hike (which is two hikes). You can choose the shorter or longer option, but both will bring you to the Johnston Canyon Falls. You can bring your dog, your walking shoes, and the confidence of knowing that you can take this hike no matter what mood you're in. 

Johnston Canyon Trail, photo by Travel Alberta / Stevin Tuchiwsky

 

Plain of Six Glaciers (Banff National Park)

Distance: 10km

Elevation: 365m

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

This trail is a popular one that leads to a tea house high about Lake Louise, but we still love it because of the outstanding views. You'll traverse through a pine forest, lose yourself in a spread of wooded trees, and end up staring at the gorgeous aquamarine Lake Louise. This is the perfect hike for a summer or spring day, and we even like it in the fall, but it's not something we'd recommend during the winter months due to icy conditions. Do check the park's website before you go, as conditions can change rapidly. 

View of a glacial lake in the mountains on the Plain of Six Glaciers hiking trail near Lake Louise in Banff National Park, photo by Alissa Emily @alissa_emily

 

Waterton Lakes National Park

Distance: 22km

Elevation: 1220m

Hiking Time: 7-12 hours

This trail's sheer size will leave some novice hikers feeling left behind, but if you have the endurance to trek 22km, you can make it through the Waterton Lakes National Park trail. This isn't a popular trail but bears frequent it and other wildlife, so make sure to be prepared to encounter some unexpected guests along the way. You'll hike through wooded areas, traverse rocky parts, and enjoy lakeside views. 

 

Grotto Canyon

Distance: 4km

Elevation: 390m

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours

Have you ever wanted to try an ice hike? Grotto Canyon might be the one to test out your icy trekking skills since it's not too tricky for moderate-level hikers. The trail itself is only four kilometres, and in the spring and summer months, that means hiking a creek bed by foot (it can't be reached any other way), but during the winter months, you can ice climb up the canyon if you have the right equipment (we don't recommend trying this unless you have had a bit of prior experience!). 

Ice Walking through Grotto Canyon, photo by Travel Alberta / Colin Way

 

Trans Canada Trail (Cypress Hill Provincial Park)

Distance: 10km

Elevation: 180m

Hiking Time: 2 hours

There are many trails in Cypress Hills Park, and some are more advanced than others, but you can access all of them from the park's main gate. We love this park's diversity and the fact that you can ski most of these trails during the winter months (which isn't the case everywhere). During the warmer months, any trail you pick at this park comes with spectacular views and plenty of skill-level options. Check out the park's website for a detailed map before you go and for ski report details. 

Cypress Hill Provincial Park, photo by Jeff Bartlett @photojbartlett

 

Siksika Trail

Distance: 5.8km

Hiking Time: 2-4 hours

Some trails attract more wildlife than others, and the Siksika Trail is one that happens to be a favourite of creates large and small. You're more likely to see beavers on this trail than bears (though bears can be found walking throughout the trail at times). This is mostly an uphill hike with various hills and steep climbs combined with some flatter parts. If you're looking to test your endurance, this is an excellent trail to pick. 

 

Hoodoo Trail

Distance: 3.5km

Elevation: 68m

Hiking Time: 4 hours

Hoo-Doo in Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park is something of a trippy trail with plenty of rock art, grasslands, valleys, peaks, cliffs, and, of course, hoodoos. While not a long trail, it is challenging enough that we are going to rank it as an intermediate climb. Steep in some parts and very flat and rocky in others, this is one trail you'll want good climbing shoes for. Make sure to stop and admire the rock art while you are there — you'll want to bring a camera. 

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, photo by Michael Matt @michaelmatti

 

Grizzly Ridge

Distance: 7km

Elevation: 560m

There are no markers on this trail up from Highwood Pass in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park making half the fun of the hike finding the actual trail. The hike itself is straightforward and tends to be easy enough to conquer once you find the trail, but know that there are plenty of rocky parts and some challenging inclines. You'll need to traverse some rocky bits to get where you're going, but the view is entirely worth it. 

 

Window Mountain Lake

Distance: 2km

Hiking Time: 2-3 hours 

If you've never hiked to a crystal clear swimming hole, you need to visit Window Mountain Lake near Crowsnest Pass, Alberta and take the hike to the open water. You can jump into the lake once you get there or admire the clear views from a high perch. Most of the walk is through a lovely wooded area, and you will end up near the water no matter which trail you take. This one is ideal for a hot summer day when you want to let loose and feel freedom beneath your feet. 

Hiker overlooking Window Mountain Lake, photo by Quin Schrock @everchanginghorizon

 

Mount Stearn Trail

Distance: 17km

Elevation: 1,000m

Hiking time: 7-8 hours

This is a great out-and-back hike in the Sulphur Lakes Provincial Recreation Area that includes a river and some fantastic vistas, a pond in the meadow before the summit. It's a serious workout this one, so expect some burning quads with all the climbing. But, hey, that's what hiking is all about. When hikers finally make it to the top and take in the panoramic views, it'll be worth it. Plenty of deep snow here so prepare yourself. 

 

Tonquin Valley (Jasper National Park)

Distance: 70km

Elevation: 1,300m

Hiking Time: Variable

You can choose to spend days hiking through Tonquin Valley or pick a path or two to try. With more than 70km of trails, it's no surprise that National Geographic named this area as one of the world's best trails. If you have the time and experience (this one is a bit on the hard side), take the McCarib Pass towards Jasper National Park (but bring camping gear because this is one serious hike that will require an overnight rest!). 

Couple hiking through wildflowers by a lake in Tonquin Valley, photo by Kathmandu

 

Horse Thief Canyon

Distance:

Elevation:

Hiking Time:

Okay, we admit it: we love the name of this area but not more than we love the hike along the Dinosaur Trail in the Canadian Badlands! While you're making your way through the canyon near the town Drumheller, think about this: archaeologists have found evidence that dinosaurs used to call the canyon home. You can take big dinosaur steps through this canyon or take your time and enjoy the diverse landscape.

 

Skyline Trail (Jasper National Park)

Distance: 48km

Elevation: 1800m

Hiking Time: multi-day hike 

If hiking above the treeline is your kind of hike, the Skyline Trail is where you should go. More than 20km of the trail is above the tree line, making the views from this hike unbeatable. This is not a trail for beginners or those not prepared for camping overnight, but it is a trail to experience if you have the time and want to escape from the world. There are campsites throughout the trail, so make sure to mark those on your virtual map before you go. 

Backpacker hiking the Skyline Trail, photo by Leigh McAdam @hikebiketravel

 

Wood Bison Trail (Elk Island National Park)

Distance: 15km

Hiking Time: 4-5 hours

This trail is marked difficult by Parks Canada because it does have some rocky parts, is longer than average, and includes traversing through herds of bison. Yep, bison. The Wood Bison Trail is home to the Wood Bison, and it's one of the few places on the planet where you can view the animals close-up (don't get too close). Wooded areas, a large field, plenty of wildlife, and a lake view is what you'll find when you visit the Wood Bison Trail. Check out the park map before you go to make sure that the trail is open and accessible. 

 

Wapta Icefields (Banff National Park)

Distance: 7km

Elevation: 400m

Hiking Time: 3 days 

You'll need a guide to walk on the icefields at Wapta Icefields, but this is something that you must do once in a lifetime. Miles upon miles of ice stretch across the Rockies at Wapta. Because ice can be unpredictable (even with a guide), this is a trail for experienced hikers. This is a three-day trek, though, so pack accordingly. Take some time to view the map, find a guide, and book your hike on the site before heading out. 

Hiking up Mt Gordon, Wapta Icefields, Alberta, Canada, photo by johnpricephotography

 

Turtle Mountain

Distance: 6.2km

Elevation: 780m

Hiking Time: 6 hours

Turtle Mountain is an intense hike, but it's not reserved for experienced hikers only. If you have a few hikes under your belt, you can quickly get through this hike. In 1903, a massive landslide at the mountain caused the top of Turtle Mountain to slide off, but today the terrain is stable and makes for a great trek. It's best to check in with a park ranger before you go on this hike and bring sustenance with you — it can be challenging in parts. 

 

Buller Pass, Kananaskis Country

Distance: 20km

Elevation: 1,200m

Hiking Time: 6 hours

This is just a pretty hike, plain and simple. Buller Pass is rated moderate because it can be rocky in parts, but we think beginners can make the trek without too many hiccups (and it's a great challenge hike). You'll find waterfalls, lakes, and plenty of fantastic scenery along the way. This is a 13km hike up and back, but it's doable in one day if you leave early enough. 

 

Ha Ling Peak

Distance: 5.6km

Elevation: 762m

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours 

This one, in Bow Valley Provincial Park, is for the experienced hikers only because it is not well marked, comes with some rocky parts, and can be hard on the legs if you aren't used to gruelling hikes. Bring proper hiking gear, a pack with water and food, and be ready for a decent test of endurance. Ha Ling is popular with tourists, so get there early if you want to avoid crowds. The trail is open during the spring and summer but closes towards winter. 

Hiking as the sun sets over the mountains at Ha Ling Peak in Canmore, photo by Kurt Morrison @kurtmorrison

 

Fairview Mountain (Banff)

Distance: 10km

Elevation: 1,000m

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours 

Fairview Mountain comes with a steep climb at the beginning of the hike but is worth the trek when you reach the top and look down at Lake Louise. We love this moderate hike for those lazy summer and spring days. Fairview is an excellent hike for packing a picnic, spreading out a blanket, and enjoying the mountain air. Check the site before you go to make sure weather conditions are favourable. 

 

Wilcox Pass (Jasper National Park)

Distance: 9.8km

Elevation: 409m

Hiking Time: 4 hours

Some of the hikes on this list include bison sightings and other wildlife sightings, but Wilcox Pass comes with sheep sightings (nearly guaranteed). This is a favourite spot to spread a picnic blanket and lay in the sun, thanks to plenty of open fields and large flat rocks to sprawl out on. Wilcox Pass is okay to hike if you are new to trekking, but experienced hikers will also enjoy this trail. At four hours, the Pass is a great way to spend the day. 

Wilcox Pass, photo by Colleen Douze @thedouze

 

Big Beehive (Banff National Park)

Distance: 9.6km

Elevation: 540m

Hiking Time: 3-4 hours

Start at Lake Agnes and wind your way towards the Big Beehive trail. This trail winds upwards through the woods until you find yourself standing at the viewpoint. From there, you can look down on Lake Agnes in all its summer or springtime splendour (there's even a tea house that's open during the warmer months). This trail near Lake Louise is ideal for hikers of any skill level and is a great way to spend the day. 

 

Mount St. Piran (Banff National Park)

Distance: 13km

Elevation: 910m

Hiking Time: 4-6 hours

Are you looking for a real hiking challenge? Mount St. Piran includes a long stretch of loose rocks that will require some tricky footwork. Aside from the rocky parts, Mount St. Piran isn't a tough climb, but it's probably one that you need at least a few hikes under your belt to conquer. Once you get to the top, you'll find one of the best views of Banff National Park around. This is the right choice for a day hike, and it's challenging enough to take up most of the day, so plan for some extra time if you aren't used to scrambling rocky trails. You can find more details about this hike here

 

Eiffel Lake

Distance: 11.2km

Elevation: 600km

Hiking Time: 5-6 hours 

A hike rarely offers a view of ten different mountain peaks, but that's what you'll find when you visit the Eiffel Lake trail. This hike can be enjoyed by moderate to experienced hikers and comes with plenty of perks (mountain peaks aside) like wildflowers and plenty of wildlife. You'll want to check the weather before you go here

Eiffel Lake trail, photo by William Patino @william_patino

 

Grassi Lakes 

Distance: 4km

Elevation:

Hiking TIme: 1-2 hours

Waterfalls, caves, and plenty of rock climbers are some of the things you'll come across when you visit Grassi Lakes near the town of Canmore in the southern Canadian Rockies. There's a more specific part to this trail and one trail that's a lot harder - we like a challenge and think you should check out the steeper side, but if you're looking for a simple hike, the basic trail is also a great option. As with most trails, it's a good idea to check out the site before you go. 

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