Alberta is home to the Canadian Rockies, one of the most impressive and beautiful ranges in the world. There is no shortage of trails among these snowcapped mountains, and you can spend countless days exploring pristine wilderness for much of the year. While snow and ice linger, proper gear and footwear enable hikers to conquer the best that the area has to offer. In fact, some of the best winter activities in towns like Banff are hiking through the myriad mountains. Read about the top 10 hikes in Alberta, Canada, get ready to adventure out there!
Lake Agnes Trail
This out and back trail leads you up to the perfect vista of Lake Agnes in all its glory. The views are best enjoyed from the Tea House, a historic place of refuge for hikers and back country adventurers. While the trail is nicely groomed, it accumulates quite a bit of snow. The 1400 of elevation change are best tackled with appropriate footwear such as crampons or trail spikes.
Tunnel Mountain Trail
One of the many peaks that towers over the town of Banff is Tunnel Mountain. The trail to the top is the ideal hike to do after work or if you only have a limited time. The turnaround point boasts a panoramic overlook of the town and the surrounding mountains. Sections of the trail can be slippery, especially as the incline picks up. Bring your trail cleats along for this gem of a hike.
Ha Ling Peak
The striking view of Ha Ling Peak’s exposed northern face is a sight to be beheld. Even more impressive are the sights from atop this majestic point. The trail’s name pays homage to the man who first led a guided trip to the peak. The steep hiking trail wraps around the southern end, while technical climbers can ascend the vertical northern face. The tough switchbacks are made easier with spiked footwear, especially in the shoulder seasons.
Ink Pots Trail
Naturally occurring mineral springs are the main attraction of this popular hike. Two trails can get you to your destination, depending on the distance you want to traverse, or how much solitude you want. Johnston Canyon leads you past waterfalls via catwalks, while Moose Meadows is a simpler trail without any falls. The former can be quite crowded, especially on weekends, while the latter is lesser traveled. Whichever you choose, make sure to pack your camera!
Grotto Canyon Trail
As the name implies, this path leads you through a canyon tucked in the hillsides. The reward for your two mile trek is a beautiful waterfall, or icefall depending on when you go! Marvel at the patinaed canyon walls as you listen to the crunch of the snow beneath your crampons. You may even get to see rock climbers in action along the way!
Sulphur Mountain trail
An arduous set of switchbacks stand between you and the summit of Sulphur Mountain. In just a few miles(5.5km) you will climb over 2000 feet(600m). While these gains are no easy feat on their own, the snow can make you really watch your feet! Check the trail reports before embarking on this trip, and gear up accordingly!
This amazing hike is an add-on to the Agnes Lake trail. Once you arrive at the lake, you will circumnavigate around it, and then climb upwards several hundred more feet. The lake sure does look different from above! Ice spikes are recommend for ascending, especially when completing the hike in or around wintertime.
Describing this hike as “cool” doesn’t do it justice. In fact, parts of the scenery are ice cold! A gentle out and back trail rewards you with a view of the Stanley Glacier, and the runoff it produces. Along the way you are treated with amazing scenery, and seasonal wildflowers. Saplings and new growth are also seen on the path, evidence of a past lightning strike that ignited a forest fire. Although the elevation change is not drastic, the total mileage is to be considered, coming in at over 6 miles (11km).
Crypt Lake Trail
Strenuous and daunting, the trail to Crypt lake is not for the faint of heart. The path takes you along an exposed hillside, through a mountainside tunnel, and up into valleys carved by ancient glaciers. Braving the 10-mile(16km) trip is well worth it as the land is an embarrassment of riches. You will pass by several waterfalls and be treated to views of a pristine alpine lake after which the trail is named. Oh, and did we forget to mention that the journey begins and ends with a ferry ride across Waterton lake?
A mellow trail brings you to the namesake falls after a brief 2 mile(3.5km) jaunt. The water has carved a steep gorge that you hike along, and the sheer edges are quite unique to see. If you don’t get your fill of hiking or views of falling water, press on past the waterfall to see two more cascades farther upstream.
These amazing hikes are sure to keep you busy while visiting Alberta. Even for locals of towns like Banff, these trails are the perfect winter activity. Choose any of these treks, check the weather, and gear up with warm clothes and trail spikes. Enjoy the views and the journey along the way, as these memories and sights will stay with you for the rest of your life.