Trail suggestions made by David Webb


If you haven't stood among the majestic peaks of Alberta's Rocky Mountains, you need to start planning a visit. There are countless places to roam and what seems like an endless tangle of trails that thread hikers through wildflower-filled valleys, along alpine ridges and above glacier-fed lakes.

hikingDan Holz

But what we really love about hiking in Wild Rose Country is that you don't have to be in the Rockies to find unscripted wilderness. Wide open plains and arid badlands beg to be explored, too. Walk the banks of heritage rivers, discover Indigenous culture and get a look at North America's largest land mammal. Here are 25 hikes to get you started: 


P.S. If you're in B.C., check out 25 Incredible Hiking Trails in British Columbia 

  

Want to see where these hikes rank against Canada's greatest hikes?

Click here to download our free eBook

Canada's 35 Greatest Hikes

 

 P.P.S: If you're in need of quality hiking gear, check this out.

1. Cavell Meadows

Jasper National Park

Mount Edith Cavell Meadows Kurt Morrison @kurtmorrisonMount Edith Cavell Meadows Kurt Morrison @kurtmorrison

Closest city: Jasper 
Length: 6-7 km
Elevation Gain: 500 m
Time: 3-5 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Hike this beautiful trail from mid-July to August for stunning displays of wildflowers. No dogs are allowed on this trail, as the Cavell Meadows has been identified as critical Woodland caribou habitat. The Cavell Meadows are a dream come true for the flower lover, and this beautiful scenery, mixed with the majestic mountains, makes this trail very popular.

How do I get to Cavell Meadows trailhead? Drive south of Jasper on the Icefields Parkway. Turn right onto 93A and follow that for 5.5 kilometres. Make another right on the Edith Cavell Road and drive 15 kilometres to the parking lot at the end of the road. This road is narrow and full of potholes and switchbacks, so drive defensively. The road to get here opens in late June and closes in late September or early October when the snow starts to fall.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Shelli from howsitgoing-eh.com

 

2. Sulphur Skyline

Jasper National Park

Sulphur Skyline JasperParks Canada/Ben Morin

Closest city: Jasper
Length: 8 km
Elevation Gain: 700 m
Time: 4-6 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Sulphur Skyline is a short (but steep) climb will reward your efforts with stunning views. At about 2.2 kilometres in, the trail will branch—you can go straight to Mystery Lake, or branch to the right and keep climbing to the summit. Once at the top, you have amazing views: you can see Fiddle River Valley, Mount Drinnan, the Miette Range, Utopia Mountain and Ashlar Ridge. The trail ends at the Miette Hot Springs, so why not soak your sore muscles?

How do I get to Sulphur Skyline trailhead? From Edmonton, take the Yellowhead to Jasper National Park and watch for a sign to Miette Hot Springs. Turn south onto the hot springs road, park in the parking lot and follow the signs.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Karlie from MissWanderlust.com
Lucie & Martin from laidbacktrip.com

 

3. Tonquin Valley

Jasper National Park

Tonquin Valley KathmanduKathmandu

Closest city: Jasper
Length: 33 km
Time: 3-4 days
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: The Tonquin Valley offers scenery you won’t soon forget, and is touted as a “must do” for all serious backpackers. The most popular part is the view of Amethyst Lakes, 20-some kilometres in. This is grizzly country, so come prepared for wildlife encounters, follow Leave No Trace principles and use the provided bear poles.

How do I get to Tonquin Valley trailhead?

Directions to Portal Creek: Drive south out of Jasper on Highway 93 (Icefields Parkway) and turn right onto Highway 93A. Two kilometres up 93A, turn right onto Marmot Road. You'll find the trailhead marked by a sign at kilometre 12.

Directions to Astoria River: Find the trailhead across from the HI Edith Cavell Hostell along Edith Cavell Road.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Alison from Alisera.blogspot.ca
Marta from Inafarawayland.com

 

4. Skyline Trail

Jasper National Park

Skyline Trail Leigh McAdam @hikebiketravelSkyline Trail Leigh McAdam @hikebiketravel

Closest city: Jasper
Length: 44 km
Elevation Gain: 1,205 m
Time: 2-3 days
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: The Skyline Trail is well known for its stunning views, with most of the hike being above the treeline. This is one of the premier backpacking trails in the Rockies, and there are several campgrounds to accommodate your overnight stay. Tackle this trail in July and August. No dogs allowed.

How do I get to the Skyline Trail trailhead? From Jasper, drive east on Highway 16. Turn right onto Maligne Road. Cross the bridge to the parking lot. Look for the sign (and trailhead) just before.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Leigh from HikeBikeTravel.com
Jeremy at CampingCanucks.com

 

5. Sunwapta Falls

Jasper National Park

Sunwapta Falls credit Canadian Photo AdventuresSunwapta Falls credit Canadian Photo Adventures

Closest city: Jasper
Length: 1 km
Elevation Gain: Approx. 100 m
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy

Details: This is less of a trail and more of a viewing area of the falls below the parking lot. Still, the 18-metre-tall waterfall and surrounding views are well-worth a visit. Remember to stay in designated areas and be careful in the slippery spray. There are some tree roots to cross over, so this trail may be difficult for those with a stroller or wheels.

How do I get to Sunwapta Falls trailhead? Drive south of Jasper on Highway 93, for about 55 kilometres. Turn right at the Sunwapta Falls Resort. The parking lot will be at the end of the access road, about 300 metres.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Barb from Keepingwiththetimes.com

 

6. Mount Stearn

Closest city: Grande Cache
Length: 15.2 km
Elevation Gain: 1,025 m
Time: 4-6 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: If you live in northern Alberta, check out this hiking trail near Grande Cache. Wildflowers abound along this challenging climb to reach views of town. The last leg of the climb to the summit can be tricky for an inexperienced hiker, so take this into consideration and stay safe.

How do I get to the Mount Stearn trailhead? From Grande Cache, drive about six kilometres north on Highway 40. Turn left just past the bridge, onto the Sulphur Gates Road. Drive another 3.5 kilometres and park just past the gravel pit. Look for a blue sign.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Steven from StevenSong.com
Grant's Tracks

 

7. Johnston Canyon Upper and Lower Falls

Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon Parks CanadaJohnston Canyon Parks Canada

Closest city: Banff
Length: 2.4 km and 5 km (see below)
Elevation Gain: 50 m and 120 m
Time: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Details: This hike is actually comprised of two trails: Johnston Canyon Lower Falls (1.2 km one way) and Johnston Canyon Upper Falls (2.5 km one-way). It is an extremely popular, easily accessed area with gorgeous waterfall views. In winter, the scene is made all the more spectacular when the falls freeze over (bring ice grips and poles). Continue past the falls to an area of shallow pools called the Ink Pots to extend your adventure.

How do I get to Johnston Canyon trailhead? Approach Johnston Canyon Hiking Area via Bow Valley Parkway/AB-1A. Park in the dedicated lot.  

Bloggers who have lived the adventure
Audrey and Jack from banffandbeyond.com

 

8. Tunnel Mountain

Banff National Park

Tunnel MountainBanff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Closest city: Banff
Length: 4.3 km
Elevation Gain: 300 m
Time: 1-2 hours
Difficulty: Easy

Details: This is an easy and popular hike for visitors to Banff. The trail is well-maintained and easy to access. You’ll get a panoramic view of the city, the Bow Valley and Mount Rundle.

How do I get to Tunnel Mountain trailhead?

Lower trailhead: From Banff Ave, turn east onto Buffalo Street, which turns into St. Julien Road. The trailhead begins on the north side of St. Julien Road.

Upper trailhead: Alternatively, begin this hike from Tunnel Mountain Drive. This will shorten the hike length and elevation gain.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Tanya from RockiesFamilyAdventures.com
Robin from EliteJetsetter.com

 

9. Plain of Six Glaciers

Banff National Park

Plain of 6 glaciersAlissa Emily @alissa_emily

Closest city: Banff
Length 10.6 km
Elevation Gain: 365 m
Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Don't miss this gorgeous day hike in Banff National Park. You’ll likely encounter large crowds at the beginning of your journey, since the trail starts near Chateau Lake Louise, but the view during your hike will be worth it. Plus, you can relax and enjoy the tea house, which is less well-known (and less crowded) than the popular Lake Agnes tea house.

How do I get to Plain of Six Glaciers trailhead? The hike begins at Chateau Lake Louise. Follow the lakeshore trail to the far end of Lake Louise and look for the trail marker.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Barry from HikingWithBarry.com
Audrey from BanffandBeyond.com

 

10. Larch Valley

Banff National Park

Larch Valley Banff Lake Louise TourismPaul Zizka Photography

Closest city: Banff
Length: 8.6 km
Elevation Gain: 535 m
Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Larch Valley is one of Banff National Park’s feature hikes, so it’ll likely be busy. You’ll be rewarded with a beautiful meadow at the top of the pass and views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. If you're looking for a longer trek, continue on for another 2.5 kilometres and hike 200 metres up to Sentinel Pass.

How do I get to Larch Valley trailhead? The access point is within the Moraine Lake parking lot. Follow the lakeshore, to the right, to the trail marker sign.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Rhonda from TravelYesPlease.com
Barry from HikingWithBarry.com

 

11. Devil's Thumb

Banff National Park

Wilson Hui CC by 2.0 flickr.comphotoswilsonhuiWilson Hui CC by 2.0 flickr.com/photos/wilsonhui

Closest city: Banff
Length: 11.9 km
Elevation Gain: 883 m
Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Taking the trail to Devil’s Thumb as a side trip from the Lake Agnes/Big Beehive Trail is a tough, but rewarding, option. Where you find the switchback turns to the Big Beehive, go the other way to get to Devil’s Thumb. There is no sign, so use the AllTrails app. Big views expand from the top of this highly-rated trail. Some scrambling required.

How do I get to Devil's Thumb trailhead? From Chateau Lake Louise, follow the shoreline path to the trailhead for Lake Agnes/Big Beehive.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Kari from GetInspiredEveryday.com

 

12. Crypt Lake

Waterton Lakes National Park

Crypt LakeBrooke Willson @brookewillson

Closest city: Waterton
Length: 17 km
Elevation Gain: 700 m
Time: 6-8 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: The trail to Crypt Lake offers something for everyone: waterfalls, a beautiful lake, a metal ladder to climb, a 20-metre tunnel to waddle through and plenty of stunning scenery. Hikers must take a boat to and from Crypt Landing to access this thrilling trail.

How do I get to Crypt Lake trailhead? Take the cruise boat across Waterton Lake. When you get off the boat, you’re there.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Barry from HikingWithBarry.com
Rachel from BetterLivin.ca

 

13. Vimy Peak

Waterton Lakes National Park

Vimy Peak AlbertaDoreen McGillis

Closest city: Waterton
Length: 22 km
Elevation Gain: 1220 m
Time: 7-10 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: The trail to Vimy Peak features views of Crypt Falls and Waterton Lake. This challenging trek is less popular than others, so you may encounter grizzlies rather than other hikers. Biking or boating cuts off tedious hiking hours so you can enjoy the ridges and wildflowers.

How do I get to Vimy Peak trailhead? Access this trail via the Wishbone Trailhead by hiking or cycling 6.5 kilometres to the Vimy Peak junction or arrange a boat ride to cut off the initial 6.5 kilometres.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Rachel from BetterLivin.ca
Bob Spirko

 

14. Lineham Falls

Waterton Lakes National Park

Lineham FallsIain Robert Reid

Closest city: Waterton
Length: 8 kilometres
Elevation Gain: 350 m
Time: 3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: The Lineham Falls Trail is a moderate half-day hike that accesses lakes and leads to a breath-taking view of a beautiful waterfall. As of August 2020, it is closed for construction, so check for updates before planning your adventure.

How do I get there: The trailhead is located about 9.3 kilometres from the town of Waterton, on the Akamina Parkway (Cameron Lake Road).

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Rachel from BetterLivin.ca

 

15. Blakiston Falls

Waterton Lakes National Park

Closest city: Waterton
Length: 2 km
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: Easy

Details: This is an easy, mostly flat trail that will take you across footbridges to Blakiston Falls and the viewing platforms. For a longer adventure, consider exploring the Blakiston Valley beyond.

How do I get to Blakiston Valley trailhead? Access this trail from the parking lot at Red Rock Canyon.

  

16. Carthew-Alderson

Waterton Lakes National Park

Carthew-AldersonDoreen McGillis

Closest city: Waterton
Length: 20 km one-way
Elevation Gain: 650 m
Time: 6-8 hours
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: Completing this trail end-to-end means using two vehicles or taking the shuttle service from town. Switchbacks, steep slopes, tree-covered trail sections and stunning views of the surrounding peaks and valleys are some of what you can expect on this hike. Alderson Lake is a highlight of the trek, so bring a picnic to enjoy by the water.

How do I get to Carthew-Alderson trailhead? The trail begins at Cameron Lake, at the end of Akamina Parkway in Waterton.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Leigh from HikeBikeTravel.com
Jill from GhostBearPhotography.com

 

17. Grotto Canyon

Grotto CanyonDiscover Banff Tours

Closest city: Canmore 
Length: 4 km
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Hiking Grotto Canyon, you’ll be able to experience hiking along a creek bed, which can only be reached by foot. This hike can also be done as an ice hike up the canyon, and ice climbing if you’re properly equipped and trained.

How do I get to Grotto Canyon trailhead? The Grotto Mountain day use area is on the north side of the highway and well marked. The trailhead is in the parking lot.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Barry from HikingWithBarry.com
Rick from InspirationRick.com

 

18. Wood Bison Trail

Elk Island National Park

EEDCEEDC

Closest city: Edmonton
Length: 15.6 km
Time: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: This trail is fairly flat and will take you on a loop around Flying Shot Lake, on the south side of the park. Keep an eye out for North America's largest land mammal: the wood bison. You'll circle Flyingshot Lake, which offers good opportunities to view waterfowl.

How do I get to Wood Bison Trail trailhead? From Edmonton, take the Yellowhead east. It’s about 45 minutes to Elk Island National Park. Exit on the south side, and then head slightly west to the parking lot and trailhead.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Barry from HikingWithBarry.com

 

19. Trans-Canada Trail

Cypress Hills Provincial Park

Alan Dyer AmazingSkyAlan Dyer AmazingSky

Closest city: Elkwater
Length: 32 km
Time: Dependent on trail chosen
Difficulty: Difficult

Details: This section of the Trans-Canada Trail system spans about 32 kilometres from the Saskatchewan/Alberta border to the west end of Elkwater Lake. Battle Creek Road, Spruce Coulee, Sunset, Soggy Bottom, Shoreline and a number of other linking trails in the park comprise this trail system.

How do I get to the trailhead? Cypress Hills Visitor Centre is located at 29 Lakeview Dr., Elkwater. Stop here to get more information about the trail you wish to hike, and its access point.

 

20. Badlands Trail

Dinosaur Provincial Park

BadlandsAlberta Parks/John Novotny

Closest city: Brooks
Length: 1.4 km
Elevation Gain: Minimal
Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy

Details: This interpretive loop trail offers find plenty of trail signage that will give you information about the area, the environment and dinosaur bones found in the area. You’ll see hoodoos, pinnacles, sandstone ridges and so much more.

How do I get to the Badlands Trail trailhead? Dinosaur Provincial Park is located about 48 kilometres northeast of Brooks.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Tanya from RockiesFamilyAdventure.com
Karlie at MissWanderlust.ca

21. Siksika Trail

Cooking Lake

Closest city: Sherwood Park
Length: 5.8 km
Time: 2 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: This section of the park contains a lot of hills, wildlife and beaver ponds There are several trails within the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area, and the Siksika Trail connects some of these.

How do I get to the Siksika Trail trailhead? Blackfoot Lake Staging Area (Day use)

  

22. Waskahegan Trail

Closest city: Edmonton
Total distance: 309 kilometres 
Time: Up to 2 weeks
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: Waskahegan Trail is one we've described before as "hidden in plain sight." The entire length wraps in roughly a circular route, passing through eastern and southern Alberta. Most frequently hiked in portions, this trail varies from an urban environment near Edmonton to wilderness landscape in Elk Island National Park. Waskahegan Trail is maintained by a volunteer organization.

How do I get to Waskahegan Trail trailhead? The trail starts near the Blackfoot Lake Staging Area in Sherwood Park, just off Highway 16.

 

23. Wood Buffalo National Park

Travel Alberta Matt JacksonTravel Alberta Matt Jackson

Closest city: Fort Smith 
Length & Time: Varies
Difficulty: Easy

Details: The Salt River Trail System in Wood Buffalo National Park offers seven hiking trails from 350 metres to 8.5 kilometres. Varying in difficulty, hikers should be able to find a trail to match the adventure they want to experience.

How do I get to the Salt River Trail System trailhead? There are different groups of trails; find maps here.

 

24. Baldy Fire Lookout via Shunda Mountain Trail

Closest city: Nordegg
Length: 5.6 km
Elevation Gain: 400 m
Time: 2-3 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: This trail is a service road, so it isn't the prettiest to hike, but the 360-degree views from the top are worth it. Be wary of logging trucks and off-road vehicles that climb the gravel track alongside hikers.

How do I get to the Baldy Fire Lookout trailhead? Start at Shunda Mountain, northwest of Highway 11 outside Nordegg.

 

25. Hoodoo Trail

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

Alberta ParksAlberta Parks 

Closest city: Milk River
Length: 4.4 km
Time: 4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

Details: While hiking the Hoodoo Trail in Writing on Stone Provincial Park, you’ll come by a variety of landscapes including hoodoos, sandstone cliffs and rock art, prairie grassland, the Milk River valley and coulees. There are stairs and steep sections, and the trail can get hot. You’ll hike up to Police Coulee Lookout and return along the same trail.

How do I get to the Hoodoo Trail trailhead? Start at the Writing on Stone Provincial Park Visitor Centre.

Bloggers who have lived the adventure:
Karlie from MissWanderlust.com 
Laurel from Monkeysandmountains

  

Alberta Hiking Resources

Official Parks Canada webpages:

Banff National Park 

Elk Island National Park

Jasper National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park

 

hiking
Credit: Dan Holz
osprey logo
This Alberta hiking article was brought to you by Osprey
. Our mission is to create innovative high performance gear that reflects our love of adventure and our devotion to the outdoors. We succeed when we meet the demanding expectation of our most discerning customers and they are proud to use our packs.
Visit ospreypacks.com for details.

 

PS. Did these 25 hikes inspire you to get outside and explore more?

For the ultimate adventure inspiration, join explore magazine’s “Live the Adventure” Club.

With thousands of dollars’ worth in gear, prizes, exclusive interviews with experts, outdoors advice and a private Facebook community to share all your adventures, it’s no wonder explore’s LTA Club has over 3,000 subscribers across North America.

Click here to learn more.

lta club

 

 

Want to see where these rank against Canada's greatest hikes?

Click here to download our free eBook

Canada's 35 Greatest Hikes

 

 

Related Content on Explore

         

When you purchase something via the links in our articles, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Read more about our policy.