Calgary is a city that is very close to my heart. Having grown up in Toronto, my first experience mountain hiking was when I moved to Calgary back in the 90’s as a university graduate starting a new job in the Albertan city. I discovered hiking in the stunning Rocky Mountains close to the city and have returned frequently over the years for hiking trips.
The mountain town of Banff and Banff National Park, about an hour and a half from Calgary, are world famous – for hiking and skiing – and contain some of my favourite hikes in the world, including my first ever mountain hike, Tunnel Mountain. While the hikes in this national park get a lot of attention, there are many other areas for fantastic hiking that are easily accessible from Calgary, such as in Kananaskis Country which contain the mountains close to the town of Canmore and several provincial parks.
Here is a list of the best hikes near Calgary, many of which I hiked just a couple of years ago:
Near Bragg Creek
Moose Mountain Hike – near Bragg Creek, in Kananaskis Country, the Moose Mountain hike is a popular one, for hikers and bikers, and is a 14 km trail, with 470 m elevation gain. The trail starts off through forest and starts heading uphill to the fire tower at the summit. It was quite windy when I went in late June 2018 but sunny and offered up beautiful 360 degree views.
The mountain town of Canmore is a great base for hikes in Kananaskis Country
Grassi Lakes – The Grassi Lakes hike is a very popular (and fairly easy) hike, featuring the beautiful emerald blue Grassi Lakes, accessed on a 4 km hike (with an easier and a challenging option). I did this hike twice on my July 2021 trip and saw lots of families hiking through. There are also many rock climbers who come to this area.
Ha Ling – Close to Grassi Lakes, the Ha Ling hike (and nearby peaks) is another popular hike in Canmore. I wasn’t alone as I embarked on this 7 km and 700 m elevation gain hike (which is not a bad thing when you’re in bear country), and I loved the climb up and the views down from the top of Ha Ling to the lake below.
Windy Point Viewpoint – The trailhead for this hike is just south of Canmore, and the moderate trail was perfect for me after the tough Cory Pass hike (read below) I had done the day before. Windy Point is about 10.6 km and 400 m elevation gain, and it takes you through a lovely forest and then climbs up to a ridge, with beautiful views.
Spray Valley Provincial Park
One of the many provincial parks in Kananaskis Country, there are several hikes here, including my favourite on this list, Tent Ridge
Galatea Lakes – The Lillian and Galatea Lakes hike is a fairly tough one, but well worth it. Over 16 km, and with a 700 m elevation gain, you pass Lillian Lake to the gorgeous Lower and Upper Galatea Lakes, and you get spectacular views at different parts of the trail.
Tent Ridge – One of my favourite hikes in this area is the Tent Ridge hike. This epic 10.3 km, 700 m elevation gain hike is a loop trail, providing spectacular 360 degree views once you’ve reached the ridge. I completed this hike in July 2021, and the only downside was the smoke from wildfires obscuring the views. The Spray Lakes were mostly hidden by the smoke, but I could see Tryst Lake and a teeny turquoise lake that was just stunning. The trailhead is a bit of a slog to get to, but well worth it.
South of Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Pocaterra Ridge – a popular hike in Kananaskis country, many hikers do this hike in the fall when the larches are a beautiful shade of yellow. It is a lengthy hike, 11 km one way, so advisable to organize a car shuttle, 760 m elevation gain. I didn’t get a chance to do this hike, but so many local hikers raved about it so I had to include in this list.
Banff National Park
There are many great hikes here (hello Lake Louise!) and lots of info written on hikes within this national park, but I couldn’t resist adding this hike that I did in July 2021 that I loved.
Cory Pass – This spectacular loop trail in Banff National Park passes between Mount Edith and Mount Cory. It’s a fairly challenging trail that is about 12 km in length and just over 1000 m in elevation gain. The pass between the mountains was so amazing, the picture included here captures just a fraction of the beauty experienced throughout the hike but in this spot in particular.
There are so many wonderful hikes in the mountains close to Calgary, the ones listed here are just a small sample. The best months to hike in this region is from June to October. Visit Where to Hike When – Canada to find out more hiking inspiration in Alberta and the rest of the country.