Locals Guide to the Mount Allan Hike in Kananaskis Country

The Mount Allan hike is one of the most popular hikes to do in Kananaskis Country. It’s easily accessible and rated as a difficult hike with no technical moves and hardly any scrambling involved to reach the summit. This makes it a very fun and rewarding hike for all to enjoy in the beautiful Canadian Rockies. A great challenge for those looking to improve upon their fitness.

After a fun full day out, I am so happy that we were able to complete another epic Kananaskis Hike. Read on for what to expect while hiking Mount Allan in Kananaskis Country. Note – Mount Allan can be done as a one-way hike from Kananaskis to Dead Mans Flats – we did not do this hike, but instead did the round trip hike to the summit and back.


Mount Allan Hike Guide


Key Points

  • Length: 15.8km
  • Duration: 6-9 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 1,485 m
  • Difficulty: Easy – Physically Hard
  • Scrambling Involved: No
  • Best Time To Hike: June – October
  • Where to Park for This Kananaskis Hike: Centennial Ridge trailhead near Nakiska.
  • Gear Needed: Daypack, Trail Runners or Hiking Boots

Mount Allan Parking

To get to the Centennial Ridge trailhead take Highway 40 south until you reach the turnoff for the Nakiska Ski Area. Follow the road until you reach Centennial Drive. It will be the first left you come to. Turn right onto Ribbon Creek Road continuing to the upper Ribbon Creek parking lot at the end of the road.

Nearby to Troll Falls, drive down Ribbon Creek Road. You’ll hit a large parking area, the upper Ribbon Creek parking lot, with picnic benches and restrooms. From this parking area, there are numerous hiking trails. Make sure to find the one nearest to the bathroom there is a sign for Centennial Ridge Trail and Mount Allan.

If you do the out and back option of Mount Allan you should leave your car here. If you do the point to point one-way hike (more on that later) you’ll need a two-car system.


Mount Allan Route Description (Via Centennial Ridge)

This hike starts out mild with only a slight, but steady incline. It pretty much stays this way for the majority of the hike. For the first 30- 45 minutes or so you’ll be hiking in the treeline. You’ll be able to stop off at different points to enjoy the views.

This is a well-worn trail and it’s in fantastic shape. Once you get above the treeline you’ll head into a large open meadow with a very clear large switchback trail up to Centennial Ridge.

Mount Allan Hike

Once you reach the ridge take a breather and enjoy a Cliff bar. The views are phenomenal. Upon reaching the weather station you’ll be able to see Nakiska ski resort down on your right.

From the car park to Centennial Ridge 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.

It’s almost 8 km to the summit of Mount Allan. The peak is 2821 meters high, making it the highest maintained trail in the Rockies. Past the ridge, it’s another 1.5 hours to the true summit. Along the way you’ll see huge pinnacles that look unworldly, these features make Mount Allan hike one for the books alone. Keep your eyes our for various peaks around including Mount Sparrowhawk.

The last 1km is a pretty relentless uphill climb in scree, once you reach the top stop to admire the views in all directions. The view over Canmore and the Bow Valley is astonishing.

Once you’ve enjoyed your summit beer and stop you have two choices, though you would have had to plan them out in advance. Head back the way you came, or continue on to Dead Mans Flats. To continue on you would have needed to plant a car in Dead Mans Flats. If you didn’t turn around for the start of the Centennial Ridge trailhead.

Cameron on Mount Allan Summit

When Can You Hike Mount Allan?

Cameron on Mount Allan

Mount Allan can be hiked from June 21 until November. From April 1 – June 21 the trail is actually closed because Bighorn ewes are giving birth to lambs and should not be disrupted by humans.

July, August, and September are amazing times to hike Mount Allan. In early October the larches will change color and for just a few weeks everything will be yellow. In November it’s best to bring microspikes, poles, and warm clothes.


How Long Does Take To Hike Mount Allan?

Mount Allan Hike
Past Centennial Ridge on to the summit

With a distance of 15.8 km and an elevation gain of 1,485 meters, Mount Allan is no short hike. If you go the out and back route the hike will take you between 7-10 hours. Many people we saw reached the end of Centennial Ridge and turn around here without continuing on to summit Mount Allan. If you choose this option you’ll be shaving off at least two hours of your time.


How Hard is it to Hike Mount Allan?

Mount Allan Hike Beginning
The beginning of the hike, right past the treeline.

As far as hikes in Kananaskis go I would personally rate this hike as on the easier side. The only difference is that is a long day given the distance, I would put it on par with Mount Bourgeau in Banff National Park. However there is nothing technical about this hike and there is very very light scrambling involved unlike others in Kananaskis.

The route and trail is straightforward and easy to follow once you are on the trail.


Are dogs and kids appropriate to hike Mount Allan?

On the way to the summit

Both dogs and experienced kids would be able to handle easily handle Mount Allan, we saw plenty of both on our hike. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash as there are bears around.


How Busy is Mount Allan Hike?

Mount Allan Summit selfie!

Mount Allan is relatively busy, it’s a popular hike in Kananaskis and on a nice summer weekend day you’ll likely find plenty of other people enjoying this hike. Though it’s nowhere as busy as some hikes in Banff National Park and around Lake Louise.


Wildlife Awareness on The Hike

If you’re on any hikes in Kananaskis you should practice proper wildlife awareness. In the region, there are frequent sightings of black bears, grizzly bears, moose, coyotes, and cougars. They all a potential threat to humans and we should reduce our impact on their natural lives.

Before any hike or walk-in the Canadian Rockies, you need to have bear spray. Remember that the bear spray is worthless if it’s in your pack, you’ll need to be able to grab this in two seconds or less in an emergency. We wear our bear sprays on our hip.

The likeliness of seeing wildlife on this trail is high. It is a moderately trafficked trail, but bear sightings have occurred. The meadow and valley is prime grizzly habitat and the trail has been closed in the past due to bear activity. We saw a male grizzly near the saddle of this hike. Thankfully he was fairly far away and we had a large group.

Always check the park websites for wildlife information (Parks Canada) and then check again for notices at the trailhead. 

When you’re on the trail make noise by banging hiking poles, talking, whistling, clapping, or singing. This is particularly important around blind bends and corners. You’re through the deep woods during these times, and it’s prime time to sneak up on a bear. Once you’re at the summit, you’re safer as you can see wildlife from afar, but still, don’t let your guard down and keep the bear spray on you just in case.

As always while hiking, you need to stay alert, travel in a group, mind children and pets, and finally carrying bear spray and knowing how to use it. If you’ve come to the park without bear spray Valhalla Pure Outfitters in town sells spray and holders with employees who will demonstrate how to use properly. 

Besides bears, it’s common to see hoary marmots and pika. We asked a marmot for directions, but they only gave us a whistle.


Advice on Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

If this is your first time hiking in the Rockies take a conservative approach. 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.

For long hikes, set a turn around time at the departure. Any time we set out for an objective I determine a time at which we need to turn around in order to arrive at the parking lot or campsite by dark. I would recommend not hiking in the dark as it’s easy to get lost and it’s not fun in bear country.

On that note, always carry bear spray if you plan to hike in the park. We carry ours in the neighborhood and bears have been known to stroll through town and busy parking lots. Always practice wildlife awareness when you’re on a trail, and please give animals space.

In regards to times keep in mind your mountain fitness — different than the gym. The low end of the times in this post is a constant fast pace uphill with little to no breaks and a brisk pace downhill. Most hikers should plan for a middle of the road time with the estimated duration.

It’s also super important to know that there are limitations and to come prepared. These are very serious mountains and it easy to get in well over your head with life-threatening consequences.

Lastly, a GPS tracker could save your life – it’s one of those backpacking essentials I like to have on me just in case I need to hit SOS. We carry the Garmin Inreach Explorer+, but the high cost may not be worth it for the average recreationalist.

Alltrails is our favorite app to have on a hike. It shows the correct trail way, elevation, and other hiker reviews. We paid the subscription fee so that we could download all the data we need to our phones. Best $2.50 (per month) ever spent!


What to Wear On a Hike?


The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone that has spent time in wilderness or mountains can speak to the fact your temperature can fluctuate a lot on a hike. You can easily start off cool at the base of the mountain and get hot as soon as you begin moving.

The goal of hiking clothing is to help regulate your body temperature, element protection, and moisture management. Temperature management is best done through a layering system if you want to learn more about what to pack for a day hike or what to wear on a hike, you can see our full post!  Here are the best hiking clothes for men and the best hiking clothes for women.


Kananaskis Country Hikes

There are so many more great hikes in the Kananaskis Country Provincial Park or you can check out some awesome Banff hikes. Both are home to some of our all-time favorite hikes and scrambles in the region. To learn more, we’ve got a post on our favorite hikes in Kananaskis Country.

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