Whether you’re keen to spend a day in the backcountry, or if a short, nature walk is more your speed, Alberta delivers. With crystal blue waters, stunning rock formations, and more inspiring views than you can imagine, here’s a guide to discovering Alberta from its trails.
Of course, hiking requires some preparation, especially since summer days in Alberta can be long and hot. So be sure to pack water and sunscreen, wear appropriate shoes, and always have a route planned.
From shortest to longest, take a look and see what hike you can add to your next trip.
Red Rock Canyon Loop
½ hour, under 1 mile
Short and sweet, this hike in Waterton Lakes National Park packs a lot into a short distance. As you make your way around the loop, see where the prairie meets the mountain from the canyon above. Then, explore the river below, home to intricate, sculpted red ridges.
Big Hill Springs
1 hour, 1 mile
1 hour, just over 1.5 miles
A loop that takes you around the perimeter of this neighborhood hike, Capilano Park’s trail is a great low-key option if you’re looking to get outside in Edmonton. Riverside trails lead you around the popular trail and at the first summit, you’ll be greeted by a view of downtown as well as the Wayne Gretzky Bridge. If you’re traveling with a pooch, you’ll also be happy to know this city-side park offers an off-leash dog area.
1–2 hours, 1.5–3 miles
Located in Calgary, this urban hike is a great way to spend a day in nature not far from the city. See the skyline from the top and enjoy rolling hills and forest along the way. As you hike towards the Calgary Olympic Park, take in the unusual sculpture-like old cars along the way — they make for some interesting photos! This park is bike friendly too.
Grassi Lakes Trail
1–2 hours, over 1 mile
Scamper past a waterfall and arrive at two lakes after meandering along the Grassi Lakes Trail in Canmore, Alberta. With two routes to choose from, one easy and one more challenging, you’ll love exploring the wooded areas and the turquoise waters of the area.
2–4 hours return, 3 miles
Sulphur Mountain Trail
3 hours return, 3.5 miles
Skip the gondola and take in the views of the Bow Valley below after climbing this steep trail. The somewhat challenging terrain of this trail is worth it, as the views from the top are amazing. Enjoy the restaurant at the top with gondola-goers, or pack a lunch and eat at the base of a waterfall.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
6 hours, 3–5 miles
Leave the directions to the pros and enjoy an all-day, fossil-focused hike. For dinosaur or geology lovers, this guided tour is great for all skill levels and with a paleontologist as your guide, you know you’ll discover some of Alberta’s most interesting secrets.
3–4 hours, 7.5 miles
Head to Elk Island National Park where homesteaders lived years ago, and where you can hike and explore today. More of a gentle walk with minimal elevation gain, this trail leads you through meadow and forest, where you might even spot some wildlife, like moose or bison.
3–4 hours, just under 7.5 miles return
Located in Banff National Park, the hike to Helen Lake is a must for nature lovers. Take in views of Cirque Peak, the Wapta Icefield, and Helen and Bow Lakes from the headwall at the top — a perfect place to have a picnic lunch. As you head down the trail, be on the lookout for marmots — the area’s cute and furry neighbors.
Aylmer Lookout and Pass
4–5 hours, 7–8 miles return
Climb through craggy mountains until you reach Aylmer Lookout, taking in the bold, blue water of Lake Minnewanka below. Depending on if you hike to the lookout or the pass, you’re able to tailor the hike to your desired length, but note that this is recommended for the more experienced hikers. The trail is long (and steep), but leaves you with a breathtaking vantage point of the landscape below.
6 hours, 8.5 miles return
Nestled in the Columbia Icefield, this hike is long, but not too challenging for those looking for a day trip that will lead to all sorts of views and discoveries. Somewhat of a backcountry locale, ensure you’re prepared for the terrain, which is made up of alpine meadow, forest, and avalanche slopes.
Alberta is full of places to explore. Discover your next adventure by visiting their website.