20 Alberta Hikes That Will BLOW You Away

While some may think of Alberta as only plains, oil, and cattle farming, the province has much more to offer, especially hiking. There are so many stunning Alberta hikes it would be nearly impossible to complete them all, let alone list them.

However, we still want to try and attempt to showcase as many as possible. From the Canadian Rockies to the Badlands, here are 20 of the most beautiful hikes in Alberta for you to enjoy.

When is the Best Time to Hike in Alberta?

natasha on the pocaterra ridge trail

Some of these Alberta hikes can be completed year-round. As Alberta isn’t exactly a warm-weather destination, and it feels like winter lasts from October to May, the best time to hike in Alberta is the summer. Many of these hikes are best completed between June and September, with some higher elevation hikes noted best in July and August.

Parks Pass

It’s important to note that to complete these Alberta hikes, you will need either a Parks Canada or Kananaskis Conservation Pass to recreate in the parks. You can purchase a Parks Canada pass at any park gate; you need a Parks Canada pass to visit any national park in Canada.

Parks Canada Day Pass Rates
Pass TypeRate
Youth (up to 17)Free
Family/Group (7 Persons)$22.00
Day passes expire at 4 pm the following day.

Or you can buy them from Parks Canada in advance online. If you’re staying in Alberta for over a few days, I highly recommend a Discovery Pass. A Parks Canada Discovery Pass gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year and is only $151.25 for a family.

The Best Alberta Hikes: Banff

Healy Pass

healy pass in the fall
  • Length: 20.9 km
  • Duration: 5-7 hrs
  • Elevation Gain: 890 meters
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Healy Pass is one of our favorite Alberta hikes – so much so that we often enjoy it multiple times a year. This hike is in Banff National Park and can be done as a day hike or a multi-day hike, given its length. Beginning at the Sunshine Village parking lot, Healy Pass is one of the best-maintained trails in the entire park.

The trail starts with a gradual climb through a lush-shaded forest. After 8km, the forest gives way to a gorgeous alpine meadow, a vast expanse of wildflowers in the summer, and golden larch trees in the fall.

natasha on healy pass

The trail’s apex is past the meadow, which provides fantastic views of Mount Monarch and the surrounding peaks. In the distance, you can see Mount Assiniboine, one of the most picturesque peaks in the Rockies.

If there is one negative, it’s the long approach to this hike. Walking through the forest for nearly 7 km without many views can feel a bit like a slog. We highly recommend hiking Healy Pass in July and August when the wildflowers are everywhere or in late September, as it’s one of the best larch hikes in Alberta!

If you want a little extra and have the energy, you can hike down to Egypt Lake. Or backcountry camp at the Egypt Lake campsite and tackle Phaorah Peak (scramble).

A Guide to Hiking the Healy Pass Trail

Mount St. Piran

natasha on mount st piran
  • Length: 12.2 km
  • Elevation Gain: 918 meters
  • Duration: 3-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Hard

Another one of the best hikes in Alberta that often gets overshadowed is Mount St. Piran. Many visitors venture to Lake Louise and opt to do a little hiking. The most popular hike is Lake Agnes Teahouse, followed by the Beehives and often Devil’s Thumb. However, many visitors don’t attempt or even think about Mount St Piran. This is a nice summit to bag if you already have a few other Canadian Rockies hikes under your belt.

cameron on the mount st piran

If you’ve already hiked up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, consider continuing on to the Little Beehive and then continuing up Mount St. Piran. While the Teahouse and Little Beehive are easy Lake Louise hikes, Mount St Piran is classified as an easy scramble. However, there is little actual hands-on scrambling involved.

Though it is steep, the views over Mount Fairview and Lake Louise are worth the climb. The route up to Mount St Piran falls between a scramble and a hike. It’s an excellent early-season objective once the snow melts off the avalanche slopes, as there is no exposure on the route.

How to Hike the Mount St Piran Trail

Parker Ridge

Cameron On Parker Ridge Looking Out to Saskatchewan Glacier
  • Length: 1.5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 269 meters
  • Duration: 2-4 hrs
  • Difficulty: Easy

After completing Parker Ridge, it shot right up to one of my favorite hikes in Banff. It doesn’t get much better than Parker Ridge Trail, which has amazing views for relatively easy effort. I usually hike a lot longer and harder for half as good views.

Since this hike is between Banff and Jasper along the Icefields Parkway, I recommend this hike when you are already making the four-hour drive between the two mountain towns. At under 2km and less than 300 meters of elevation gain, Parker Ridge can easily be incorporated into an Icefields Parkway road trip itinerary.

Hiking Up Parker Ridge In Banff

The Parker Ridge hike is pretty straightforward on a well-trodden trail the entire 269 meters up. Nothing complicated or technical about this Banff hike, and no scrambling is involved making it an excellent hike for newer hikers. It’s great for the entire family, those with mobility issues, or whoever just wants a nice leisurely day out with fantastic glacier views!

The finale of this hike is reaching the ridge and getting views over the impressive Saskatchewan Glacier! This hike is best completed in July and August, as there is a lot of snow other times of the year.

How to Hike Parker Ridge Trail

Mount Bourgeau

Cameron Just Past The Summit Of Mount Borgeau
At the summit looking out towards Mount Assiniboine on a clear day
  • Length: 21.7 km
  • Elevation Gain: 1,731 meters
  • Duration: 5 – 10 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Mount Bourgeau is a 2,931-metre-tall mountain not far from Downtown Banff. Sound intimidating? Don’t worry! It’s one of the more accessible mountain summits in the Canadian Rockies – as long as you don’t mind a long day out!

At 22 km and 1731 meters of elevation gain, the sheer length and elevation gain require strong legs and stamina. However, it is not technical or physically terrible, and no scrambling is needed to summit the mountain, a rarity for many peaks in Alberta.

Natasha At Harvey Pass On The Way To
On the Harvey Pass Trail

On the way to the peak, you cross the lovely Bourgeau Lake, witness stunning views from Harvey Pass, and on a clear day, you can see Mount Assiniboine. If summiting Bourgeau sounds like too long of a day, you have other options! You can choose to go just to Bourgeau Lake or Harvey Pass, each cutting out a large chunk of the hike.

We completed the trip up to the summit in around six hours, with over a half-hour at the summit. Unless you’re trail-running, I wouldn’t expect to complete it much sooner, as the average time is around eight hours. This is a full-day hike, so come prepared with lunch, water, and snacks.

How to Hike Mount Bourgeau

Best Alberta Hikes: Jasper

Valley of Five Lakes

Valley of Five Lakes
  • Length: 4.8 km
  • Elevation Gain: 172 meters
  • Duration: 1 -2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Valley of Five Lakes is a classic Jasper hike that’s probably the most popular in the park—and for good reason! Hikers come to gaze at the five picturesque lakes along the trail. It’s a flat, well-developed trail, so it’s easy for all ages and abilities to enjoy the lakes and their varying shades of blue and green.

How to Hike the Valley of the Five Lakes

Whistler’s Summit

Natasha Hiking Along Indian Ridge In Jasper
  • Length: 3.7 km
  • Elevation Gain: 251 meters
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

From the top of the Jasper Skytram, visitors can enjoy the views over Jasper and continue to summit Whistler’s Mountain, which is great for those who want a bit of hiking. Quite honestly, unless you hike from the base, the Jasper Skytram assists most of the way up the mountain, but a 20-30 minute hike further will get you to the summit. It’s more or less a must-do in Jasper! On a clear day, you can see Mount Robson – the highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies.

Natasha Hiking To Indian Ridge In Jasper
Continuing on to Indian Ridge

Just because this is an assisted hike doesn’t mean it’s completely effortless. At just about 200 meters of elevation gain, it takes some work to reach the summit, and you’ll feel accomplished! For those who want a bit more of a challenge and a bit of scrambling, consider continuing on to Indian Ridge!

Edith Cavell Meadows

Edith Cavell Meadows Hike
  • Length: 8.5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 558 meters
  • Duration: 3-5 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

One of the most spectacular hikes in Jasper is a climb up to the Edith Cavell Meadows. On the hike, expect alpine meadows, glacial lakes, a massive hanging glacier, sweeping views, and the towering Mount Edith Cavell. The hike starts with a paved trail called the Path of the Glacier. It brings hikers to a viewpoint of the Cavell Pond and a view of the Cavell Glacier. All while the north face of Mount Edith Cavell towers over the trail.

After the first lookout point, the trail continues through the forest and into the meadows. The views of the Angel Glacier, a hanging glacier, are striking as you climb. The real highlight is the wildflowers that reach their peak around mid-July. When wildflower season is in full swing, spending a day off the trails is hard because it is breathtaking. Granted, the wildflowers flourish best in the alpine, so it takes some leg work to reach.

The Skyline

The Skyline Trail In Jasper
  • Length: 46 km
  • Elevation Gain: 1380
  • Duration: Multiday
  • Difficulty: Difficult

Not to be confused with the Sulphur Skyline Trail, The Skyline is a highlight in Alberta. However, at nearly 50km, it’s best done as an ultra-trail run or multiday backpacking trip. It’s also a point-to-point trek, so it requires a bit of planning, but it’s such a stunning hike it had to be mentioned on this list. It’s best for those who want to plan something longer than a day hike.

The Skyline is a breathtaking trail that crosses several mountain passes and stays at an elevation from Maligne Lake to the Maligne Canyon. The views are surreal, and there is little wonder why this is a world-famous backcountry trip.

Best Alberta Hikes: Kananaskis Country

Arethusa Cirque

Tommy Standing In Arethusa Cirque Taking In The Larches
Beautiful in September!
  • Length: 5 km
  • Elevation Gain: 350 m
  • Duration: 2-3 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Arethusa Cirque is a family-friendly hike in Kananaskis Country that we decided to tackle in larch season after completing Pocaterra Ridge and Ptarmigan Cirque nearby. I wasn’t expecting much from this hike near Calgary, but I was absolutely stunned by how beautiful this one was.

This is a simple hike that almost anyone can complete with out-of-this-world views of Mount Arethusa, Storm Mountain, and Mount Tyrwhitt. We highly recommend completing this hike in late September when the larches turn golden. Arethusa Cirque is a loop hike, and I suggest taking this loop trail clockwise. One very steep and loose section is better to ascend than descend – especially with children or older hikers.

How to Hike Arethusa Cirque

Tent Ridge

Natasha Descending Tent Ridge At Sunset
Hiking down Tent Ridge at sunset
  • Length: 10.6km
  • Elevation Gain: 750m (2460ft)
  • Duration: 3-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Tent Horseshoe Ridge is one of my favorite hikes in all of Alberta. This beautiful loop trail is just an hour’s drive from Canmore in the Spray Valley. Thanks to social media, it’s become quite popular in recent years, but even with the crowds, it’s still a stunner. Tent Ridge Horseshoe is a 10-kilometer loop trail with one short scramble section. It’s not too tricky; even a newer hiker could complete this hike.

While the whole loop hike is lovely, the real show stopper comes at the end (if you take the trail clockwise, which we recommend), as you get views of the Spray Lakes with Mount Nester situated perfectly behind them.

How to Hike Tent Ridge Trail

Sarrail Ridge Via Rawson Lake

Natasha Standing On Sarrail Ridge
Sarrail Ridge
  • Length: 11.3km
  • Elevation Gain: 1,066m
  • Duration: 3-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult

Rawson Lake is a beautiful Alberta lake suitable for a wide range of abilities, and when combined with Sarrail Ridge, it makes for a relatively quick, classic hike in the Canadian Rockies. The views, particularly from Sarrail Ridge, are stunning, but you’ll have to put in plenty of work to get them.

This hike starts at the Upper Kananaskis Day Use Parking lot and is one of those perfect Kananaskis day hikes you’ll remember forever. Along the trail to Rawson Lake, you’ll cross bridges over waterfalls and get beautiful views over Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Rawson-Lake-kananaskis-the best alberta hikes
Rawson Lake

For a mild adventure, the hike to Rawson Lake is a great beginner’s hike in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It’s about a 300-meter elevation gain and can be done early or late season or even in the winter. While you certainly won’t be disappointed by the views at Rawson Lake, you can continue hiking for grander views.

Continue up to Sarrail Ridge (summer only), and you’ll enjoy views of those sweet baby-blue Kananaskis Lakes. Though beware, it’s a steep dirt trail up to the ridge. The ridge climb is a bit of a slog and goes straight up avalanche shoot and prime grizzly bear habitat. As always, hiking with bear spray and proper footwear is essential. Once you reach the ridge, you can look over Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes and Mount Indefatigable.

How to Hike Sarrail Ridge Via Rawson Lake in Kananaskis

Smutwood Peak

Final Push Up To Smutwood Peak
Almost to the summit of Smutwoot Peak
  • Length: 17.9km
  • Elevation Gain: 961m
  • Duration: 5 – 9 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate-Difficult, mainly towards the summit.

Smutwood Peak is one of our favorite Kananaskis hikes and one of Alberta’s best. This hike is best done with a group as it is in prime grizzly country with plenty of trees at the beginning (and end of the walk).

Along the hike, you’ll pass an incredible waterfall, and once you get into the alpine meadow, the views are amazing. Hopefully, you’ll get a glimpse of the many whistling marmots! There are some steep sections of this hike. Going up Smuts Pass is relentless for 2 km, but it lightens up again as you come across two alpine lakes at the saddle.

The real challenge is the final push-up to the top of Smutwood Peak (not to be confused with Mount Smuts). There is some hands-on scrambling involved to reach the summit of Smutwood Peak, but once you reach the summit, you’ll enjoy expansive views of Mount Birdwood.

How to Hike Smutwood Peak

Mount Allan

Cameron Standing On Top Of Mount Allan
At the summit of Mount Allan
  • Length: 15.8km
  • Elevation Gain: 1,485 m
  • Duration: 6-9 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy, but long

Mount Allan is a popular hike in Kananaskis, but it is a long day with significant elevation gain. With a distance of 15.8 km and an elevation gain of 1,485 meters, Mount Allan is no short hike. This hike takes you to a mountain summit without scrambling or anything technical. I love the hike up Mount Allan because you gain elevation steadily almost the entire time without any extremely steep sections.

Mount Allan can be a point-to-point hike or an out-and-back hike. Mount Allan via Centennial Ridge links Ribbon Creek and Dead Man’s Flats. You can do the entire traverse for a long day, especially those with two cars. We only had one car and decided to start our journey at Centennial Ridge trailhead, where we had a steady but easy incline up into the valley and would return the same way.

Cameron Standing On Centennial Ridge

The views start here and never end. From the car park to Centennial Ridge, it is about 1.5-2 hours. Most people stop when they reach the ridge, but it’s worth it to keep pushing and go for the summit of Mount Allan and get views towards Kananaskis Country to the south and Canmore to the Northwest.

Along the hike to the final summit of Mount Allan, you’ll see huge pinnacles that look unworldly. These features make this hike one for the books alone. You can continue to Dead Man’s Flats (if you have set up a car shuttle) or turn around for an easy and enjoyable hike down. The summit of Mount Allan sits at 2819 meters, making it the highest maintained trail in the Rockies, and it is very well maintained!

How To Hike Mount Allan

Best Alberta Hikes: Waterton

Bear’s Hump

Bears Hump HIke.
Looking to Montana
  • Length: 2.3 km
  • Elevation Gain: 214 meters
  • Duration: 30 minutes – 2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you want a short and sweet hike with glorious views, you can’t get much better than Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park. It’s a great Canadian Rockies hike as any age and ability can make it up to Bear’s Hump. At the top of this hike, you get stellar views of Upper Waterton Lake and Glacier National Park in Montana.

This hike is easily accessible right from the town of Waterton and is easily doable in under an hour. That means you can enjoy your entire day in the park and head up here with a few sundowners at sunset.

How to Hike Bear’s Hump in Waterton National Park

Lower Bertha Falls

Lower Bertha Falls

  • Length: 5.3 km
  • Elevation Gain: 200 m
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

The Bertha Falls hike is similar to Bears Hump in terms of difficulty, but you are rewarded with waterfall sprays instead of views of another country. This is a great kid-friendly hike with easy terrain and minimal elevation gain.

Along the way to the falls, you’ll get plenty of views of Waterton Lake. Once you reach the falls, you can turn this into a longer hike and continue to Bertha Lake, another 3km, 400 meters, and 21 switchbacks away. The reward is a brilliant green-blue lake!

Crypt Lake Trail

Natasha On The Chains Of The Crypt Lake Trail
On the Crypt Lake Trail
  • Length: 20km
  • Elevation Gain: 900 meters
  • Duration: 4-8 hours
  • Difficulty: Moderate

The Crypt Lake Trail has been named one of the world’s most thrilling hikes and one of Canada’s best trails. Every summer, eager hikers reach the trailhead from Waterton Township via boat, excited to tackle the trail for a full day. The trail climbs 900 meters over 10 kilometers, gaining ridges as you get views of Mount Bosworth and Vimy Ridge.

Crypt Lake Swimmers
Swimming at Crypt Lake

The exciting trail requires hikers to climb cliffsides, climb an exposed ladder, and squeeze through a natural tunnel. It sounds scary, but don’t worry; it’s nothing any mildly experienced hiker can’t tackle. The trail ends at beautiful Crypt Lake, just north of the Montana/Canada border. Bring a bathing suit to cool off after a hard day’s work. All in all, this is one of the best things to do in Waterton.

How to Hike the Crypt Lake Trail

Best Alberta Hikes: Drumheller

Drumheller Hoodoos Trail

Drumheller Hoodoos
  • Length: 1.4 km
  • Elevation Gain: 82 m
  • Duration: 30 min – 1 hour
  • Difficulty: Easy

Drumheller is one of the best spots for hiking in Western Canada, but it often gets overlooked by hikes in Banff. It’s famous for its Badlands terrain and for its abundance of hoodoos.

What is a “hoodoo,” you ask? They are geological formations of craggy columns carefully sculpted by the feats of nature and, indeed, a sight to behold. These tall, thin rock pillars are created by wind erosion, giving them the unique shape of a wide, flat top and stunning striation.

The column is often made of softer stone shaped by the elements over millions of years, topped with the much harder stone, which keeps the structure intact. Also referred to as fairy chimneys or earth pyramids, they have been compared to giant stone mushrooms or Mars monuments made by aliens. The best place to see the hoodoos up close is on the ‘Hoodoos Trail,” which is an easy 1.4-kilometer loop trail near Drumheller! It’s great for kids and families and will leave any hiker with a smile.

Horsethief Canyon

Horsethief Canyon
  • Length: .8 km
  • Elevation Gain: 22 m
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy

Horsethief Canyon is named for the nomadic horse thieves who once hid their stolen livestock here. Hiking here will quickly take you back to a lost world that makes you feel like you are in a Wild West movie. Horsethief Canyon is located on the Dinosaur Trail, though it’s not much of a defined trail and more of a go wherever the view takes you the type of hike!

Horseshoe Canyon

Horseshoe Canyon
  • Length: 3.9 km
  • Elevation Gain: 113 meters
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy

Horseshoe Canyon is similar to Horsethief Canyon, with unworldly views, but has a defined trail to follow! This huge U-shaped canyon gives you a true sense of the beauty of the badlands. The maroon-striped canyon walls reveal layers from when the dinosaurs roamed this earth in the Cretaceous period.

Other Great Hikes

Vision Quest

Vision Quest
  • Length: 6.4 km
  • Elevation Gain: 856 m
  • Duration: 4-6 hours
  • Difficulty: Difficult

If you enjoy a Western Canada road trip, I can’t recommend venturing into David Thompson Country enough! One of the main highlights here is Abraham Lake, and Albertans head here year-round to take note of its wonders. In the winter, it’s made Instagram famous for its frozen methane bubbles.

In the summer, people head to Abraham Lake to camp, paddle, and hike. The most popular hike in the area is Vision Quest. I know it sounds like an 80s video game. It’s not virtual reality, but a hike that provides absolutely astonishing views over Abraham. Hiking/scrambling Vision Quest involves climbing 850 meters of elevation gain and 6.3 km. It is a great day out for those looking to get away from the crowds in Banff!

Hiking Gear We Recommend

Women's Merrell Moab II

Merrell Moab II

Many hikers will enjoy the security, comfort, and value in the Merrell Moab II. It’s a great beginner hiking boot.

Arc'teryx Cerium Hoody

Arc’teryx Cerium

Arc’teryx Cerium is our pick for the best down jacket. It’s incredibly light, and we bring it on almost every hike in the Rockies.

Peak Design Capture Clip

PD Capture Clip

This nifty clip from Peak Design secures a camera to my backpack strap for easy reach. No more digging in the backpack!

Hiking Poles

Hiking Poles

A pair of durable and lightweight hiking poles are a great asset on the hiking trail.  

Gregory Nano Backpack

Gregory Nano 20L

20L feels like the ideal size for quick hikes and scrambles. We love the Nano from Gregory with a hydration reservoir.

Garmin Inreach Mini

Garmin Inreach Mini

There is not much cell service in the Canadian Rockies. In case of emergencies, we carry an emergency beacon with GPS.

Advice On These Hikes in Alberta

  • If it’s your first time on these hikes, take a conservative approach – read our post for beginner hikers in the Canadian Rockies, too. Pick an adequate hike for your fitness, plan for plenty of time, pack water and food, and don’t be afraid to turn around. If you want to learn more about what to wear hiking, we have a great post.
  • Always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in Alberta. Always practice wildlife awareness on a trail, and please give animals space.
  • Leash your dogs. Dogs must be kept on a leash at all times while hiking in National Parks.
  • There is no cell service for many of these hikes, a Garmin Inreach, or something similar could save your life!

If you have any other questions, leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.

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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
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  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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