9 hiking trails near Calgary that you need to conquer

Mar 28 2022, 10:30 pm

The original version of this article was written for Daily Hive by Sarah Mang


With Calgary being so close to the mountains, we’d be foolish not to take advantage of all they have to offer, particularly the epic hiking options.

Plus, it’s a pretty rewarding feeling to know you literally conquered a mountain. Not to mention, if you find yourself sore after a long day’s trek, hot springs are never too far away.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from Albertaparks.ca and AdventureSmart. Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here — and please note that irresponsibly-taken selfies (even if they look great for the ‘gram) can be fatal. 

Here are some awesome hiking trails near Calgary to check out this year, grouped by difficulty and skill level. Be sure to check trail conditions and pack accordingly before heading out!

Beginner

Johnston Canyon

 

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Located near Banff, this trail is well-worn. Better described as a nature walk than as a hike, a casual stroll will take you over a few bridges and catwalks, bringing you an arm’s-length away from some incredible waterfalls. For an additional challenge, head further up the mountain to the Ink Pots.

It’s important to note that Highway 1A, which offers access to the Johnston Canyon trailhead, is subject to seasonal road closures. For more information visit the Parks Canada website.

Difficulty: Easy
Location: The Johnston Canyon trailhead is located off of the Bow Valley Parkway/Highway 1A, west of Banff (150 km/one hour and 45 minute drive from Calgary)
Length: 2.3 km
Elevation: 105 m
Route type: Out and back

Lake Louise Lakefront Trail

 

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Lake Louise may be ranked as one of the best outdoor skating rinks in the world, but it is something to be marvelled at during the spring, summer, and fall months as well. Follow along the shoreline of the turquoise waters for some breathtaking beauty – without having to catch your breath.

Difficulty: Easy
Location: This route begins from the Chateau Lake Louise, located at 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise (183 km/approximately a two-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 4.5 km
Elevation: 108 m
Route type: Out and back

Grassi Lakes Trail

The incredible gemstone-hued waters have to be seen to be believed on this short trek just outside of Canmore, which is popular among hikers and rock climbers alike. There are a few steep parts on this hike, but nothing too strenuous that kids or your four-legged companion can’t manage.

Difficulty: Moderate
Location: The Grassi Lakes trailhead is located off of Ken Ritchie Way in Canmore, Alberta (108 km/one hour and 15 minute drive from Calgary)
Length: 3.4 km
Elevation: 178 m
Route type: Loop

Intermediate

Lake Agnes Trail

 

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An amazing way to reward yourself after an early-morning hike is to have tea and some signature apple crisp on the patio at the Lake Agnes Tea House. They have over 100 varieties of tea from all areas of the world, along with homemade sandwiches and other bites. To extend your hike further, you can carry on to the Little Beehive, Big Beehive, or even take the High Line Trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.

Difficulty: Moderate
Location: This route begins from the Chateau Lake Louise, located at 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise (183 km/approximately a two-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 7.4 km
Elevation: 435 m
Route type: Out and back

Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse

 

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Located just a little further back than the Lake Agnes Tea House (but easily connected), this teahouse is nestled right in the heart of Mount Lefroy. Try their homemade chocolate cake as a treat for your efforts once you get there, and enjoy the incredible vistas.

Difficulty: Moderate
Location: This route begins from the Chateau Lake Louise, located at 111 Lake Louise Drive, Lake Louise (183 km/approximately a two-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 14.6 km
Elevation: 588 m
Route type: Out and back

Sulphur Mountain Trail

 

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Known as one of the classic trails in the Banff area, this trail is conveniently connected to the Banff Gondola. You’ll reach an elevation of 2,292 metres at the top, and, luckily, you can always catch the gondola down if one way was enough for you – or if you happen to have a few too many beers with lunch at the mountaintop restaurant.

Difficulty: Hard
Location: The Sulphur Mountain trailhead is accessible from the Banff Gondola parking lot on Mountain Avenue, Banff (133 km/one-and-a-half-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 10.9 km
Elevation: 756 m
Route type: Out and back

Advanced

Ha Ling Peak

 

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Once you’re a little more comfortable with hiking, Ha Ling is a must-try. The view is absolutely incredible, and definitely worth the challenge. This trail is super popular, so it may be crowded more into the summer months, but that just means more people who you can give encouraging smiles to on your way down!

Difficulty: Hard
Location: The Ha Ling Peak trailhead is located right off of Highway 742 in Kananaskis, southwest of Canmore (111 km/one hour and 20 minute drive from Calgary)
Length: 7.2 km
Elevation: 748 m
Route type: Out and back

Moose Mountain

 

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Just outside of Bragg Creek, Moose Mountain is home to the highest wildfire lookout point in all of Alberta. This hike definitely isn’t for the faint of heart, but you’ll practically be able to touch the clouds when you get to the top.

Difficulty: Moderate
Location: The Moose Mountain trailhead can be found off of Moose Mountain Road off of Highway 66, west of Bragg Creek (69 km/approximately a one-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 13.8 km
Elevation: 766 m
Route type: Out and back

Yamnuska Ridge & CMC Valley Trail

 

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Another token hike in the Canmore area, be prepared for a steep haul on this one. There is also a bit of scrambling (loose rocks) near the top, but the view into the valley below is so worth it. There are chains bolted into the mountain on some steeper areas so you can navigate around a little more safely, but don’t let that scare you away!

Difficulty: Hard
Location: The Mount Yamnuska trailhead is located off of Highway 1A/Bow Valley Trail in Seebe, Alberta (85 km/one-hour drive from Calgary)
Length: 8.9 km
Elevation: 915 m
Route type: Loop

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