Fresh air, its mountains in your face time! Ditch the screen and get ready to move your feet into jaw-dropping good mountain scenery, the Canadian Rockies. Note to soul, check, up- lifting, and body, goodness.
So now’s the time to toss the PVR box to the neighbours and get your hiking boots ready for 8 great hikes. From best views to historic hikes, here’s a sampling of hiking hits in the Canadian Rockies.
These 8 classic hikes won’t disappoint. We’ll start with primers close to Calgary to get you started and then offer up a plate of trail adventures on a giant circle tour, from day hikes to multi-day backpack trips, that are easily accessible and nearby four adventurous mountain towns.
A few words of warning. The 2013 flood closed some routes in Kananaskis Country and around Canmore, so be sure to check the website before heading out. And remember your hiking safety rules: Pack enough water and food to stay hydrated and strong, dress in layers (don’t forget the bad-weather clothing), make sure to use proper footwear and use a good-quality, well-fitted backpack.
- Close to Calgary, gateway to the Canadian Rockies For a close and easy picnic-perfect hike to break in those hiking boots, set out for Point campground at Upper Kananaskis Lake. A little more than three kilometres and just over an hour of hiking time gets you views of peaks, sandy beaches and picnic tables ready for overnight tales.
- In the footsteps of explorers Elk Pass is a storied route dating back to the early days when explorers sought passes through the Rockies. Trade routes connected historic B.C. camps, and the bygone days of trading were in full swing. With a gradual access from the Elk Pass parking lot in Kananaskis, this is a nice forested walk that beckons you further into Elk Lake Provincial Park.
- Alpine rambling done easy near Golden, B.C. Golden-filled alpine meadows and an out-of-this world ridge walk make Kicking Horse Mountain Resort the perfect stop, and I’m not just saying that because I work with them. The gondola does all of the heavy lifting on this one, making it perfect for all ages. You can build up your distance to suit all levels, and get immediate spectacular views, even for those who walk less than 100 metres.
- A Purcell gem near Kimberley, B.C. The little-known St. Mary’s Alpine Provincial Park is one of my favourite places to escape because nobody goes here and it is filled with days of alpine exploration that can’t be beat. Espresso up in the alpine town of Kimberley to get that blast you will need to climb from the Dewar Creek valley floor to the high alpine entrance into St. Mary’s Alpine Provincial Park — plus endless lake-filled basins tugging at you to see more. The Mortar Lake trail is a great introductory to experience the beauty of this alpine gem.
- Tanglefoot Pass Wildflowers abound in an alpine basin perched high in the Steeple Range of the Canadian Rockies which command the skyline above Cranbrook, B.C., but it is the emerald green of the lakes that dot the Tanglefoot trail that will mesmerize you.
- Easy access lookout gives you some of the best views Lakit Lookout near Cranbrook, B.C. gives you unbelievable views and is an easy hike, but not such an easy drive. Pay attention on this twisty and narrow forestry road. But don’t let the road stop you from enjoying this gem. Just two kilometres and you are in another world! Mountains on steroids in all directions — no better lunch spot for the whole family.
- Base camp for adventure in Fernie, B.C. The very best comes with a story of a mountain man who cut his trail through one of the most scenic sections of the Canadian Rockies. The local legend and trail builder, Heiko Socher, built the Mountain Lakes Trail, a 24-km masterpiece, from cedar-filled valleys to unmatched high alpine rambling through flower-filled basins. This is a must-do on any serious hiker’s list. Prepare to enter a magical world on this one as you see hand-carved railings and benches, weeping waterfalls, mystery tunnels and, if you are lucky, you might catch a hobbit-like character.
- Waterton National Park Crypt Lake, long a favourite of many southern Alberta hikers, is a must-do hike that combines a perfect trifecta of adventure — a boat ride, walking the plank, and a tunnel. Get your adventure as you face your fear of heights and dark tunnels head-on. You can do it, as thousands do each summer.About the author: Powder Matt adventurer, author, and ski bumOne year, while his friends were busy getting jobs and settling down, a young Matt Mosteller spent 63 days living in his car so he could ski every day. Now, 20 years later, Mosteller has settled down a bit, but he’s still seeking outdoor adventure and his stories can be seen regularly in the Calgary Herald, Vancouver Sun, Explore Magazine and many others. His first book, described by The Calgary Herald as “a kind of handbook for living life to the fullest,” The Adventurer’s Guide to Living a Happy Life offers 63 daily meditations to help you broaden your horizons and achieve the ‘goosebump’ moments in life (sleeping in the car is optional). Mosteller is a crusader, constantly trying to find ways to fight childhood obesity, and drive positive change with each step by getting people outside. Instagram @PowderMatt| tweet @powdermatt |