The Best Winter Hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis
Looking to shed some of that “Xmas Cheer” you packed on? Can’t keep your balance skiing but still want to be active? Well, have I got a suggestion for you! Just remember that there is no such thing as overdressed at this time of year, so layer up. And nope, your UGGS or Blundstones are not going to cut it. Check out what we consider to be some of the best winter hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis.
Local Favourite: Ha Ling Trail to Ha Ling Peak in Canmore (7.2 km / Hard)
Popular thanks to its close proximity to Canmore, Ha Ling is a difficult trail that far too many people underestimate. Steeper than most expect, with weather conditions can change very quickly so if you think you might need it, bring it! Boot grips are essential this time of year, and be prepared to lose your balance a few times.
You will begin making your way through a lovely forested area, which lasts for about half of the journey. There will be spots to take in the views, but trust me, it is always better the higher you ascend. When you reach a section of iced-over rocks with a metal chain; don’t be a hero, just use the chain to help you climb. Once you are above the timberline, there may be a deepish snow section to traverse. Depending on the weather, it may be a nicely packed trail or 2 feet of powder you wish you had brought snowshoes for. Whatever the conditions, it’s not going anywhere and as long as you take your time it is manageable.
You’ll know you are past the worst of it when you reach the first set of steps. Helpfully put there by Alberta Parks to reduce the amount of scrambling, they become somewhat treacherous once iced over. Once again, just take your time and ease your way up both sets of stairs. Now you are moments away from the saddle, a perfect point to stop and admire what you have accomplished so far. You will feel like you tower over Canmore! Now you can either stop here and feel it is a job well done, or you can continue onto the peak! The trail will grow steeper, and the term “mountain goat” may pop into your head, but if something was worth doing it would not be easy!
Now you are probably wondering “Why do Ha Ling in Winter? It seems so much tougher when it is already so difficult!” And to that I say firstly, that is the wrong attitude to have, and secondly, remember those treacherous stairs and iced over rock sections on the way up? Well, they just became the most fun you will ever have descending a mountain! Smoothed out ice slides that will make you forget what you were just complaining about. Just make sure there are no errant rocks or branches around that might snag you, then slide down long sections of the mountain on your butt!** Just a stone’s throw from Canmore, the most gratifying way to experience Ha Ling!
Video care of @squeekie_toth **Rockies Rentals does not accept any liability in the event of damaged clothing/equipment and/or injury sustained as a result of sliding down Ha Ling. Just be careful, ok? If you see a rock sticking out, just don’t risk it!
More of The Best Winter Hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis
Lower/Upper Kananaskis Lake (Moderate)
Superb snowshoeing conditions to be found deep into “K-Country” and also the occasional moose. Prepare to quickly find yourself waist deep if you step off a trail though!
Grotto Canyon Trail east of Canmore (7.1 km / Easy)
A distant cousin of the far, far tougher Grotto Mountain. Perfect for all skill levels, with a frozen waterfall and Inukshuk Garden along the way.
Prairie Mountain near Kananaskis (6.6 km / Hard)
Great workout; a steep trail with slick, icy spots throughout! Views of Calgary on a clear day if you are lucky (or unlucky, depending on what your think about Calgary).
Troll Falls Trail in Kananaskis (3.4 km / Easy)
Great for the whole family, although boot grips may come in handy when venturing to the upper falls.