By Kristy Koehler, July 12 2018 —
Billed as “Alberta’s Mountain Playground,” Kananaskis Country, or K-Country, lies about an hour west of Calgary. The 4,000-square-kilometre area offers hiking, mountain biking, cross country skiing and rock climbing among views that will take your breath away. Kananaskis is home to plenty of day-use areas, picnic facilities and places to leave your car so you can get out and explore.
The hiking trails in K-Country are suitable for novice enthusiasts to expert adventurers. If seeing gorgeous vistas with only slight exertion is what you’re after, check out the Village Rim Trail — there’s free parking at the Kananaskis Lodge with access to the route. The path is just over a kilometre long and offers a great view of Mount Kidd. Plus, you can reward yourself with chicken wings at the hotel’s pub when you’re done.
If you’ve never hiked before but are looking for a little more excitement than the Village Rim, the Troll Falls Trail is a 3.4-kilometre round-trip trek with a steady, gentle gain in elevation. The forested journey doesn’t offer sweeping views of the valley but does reward you with a beautiful waterfall. The trail is well-signed and easily accessible from the Stoney Trail day-use area.
A seasoned hiker will likely enjoy the 8.1-kilometre one-way journey to Ribbon Falls. Back-country camping is available at the falls, but to get there you’ll need to make use of chains anchored to the mountainside. It isn’t for the faint of heart. If you’d rather not chance the cliff, the first eight kilometres of the hike is beautiful in and of itself.
Ha Ling Peak should also be on your list of climbs to conquer if you’re an advanced hiker. About five kilometres past the Canmore Nordic Centre is the Goat Creek day-use area. Across a bridge from there is where you’ll find the trailhead. The 741-metre ascent is quick and steep. Once you’re out of the trees, scree lines the push to the summit. This hike is best when the snow up top is completely gone, as the steep climb coupled with inclement conditions can result in a slick trail.
Kananaskis is grizzly bear country and as such, hikers should carry bear spray with them and always trek in groups. Kayaking, canoeing and rafting are available on the rivers and lakes in the area but should be undertaken with a guide.