How To Hike Mount Allan in Kananaskis Country

The Mount Allan hike is one of the most popular hikes in Kananaskis Country, and easily one of the best hikes near Calgary. It’s easily accessible and rated as a difficult hike with no technical moves and hardly any scrambling to reach the summit. This makes it an enjoyable and rewarding hike in the beautiful Canadian Rockies for all to enjoy. We love hiking Mount Allan as it’s a great challenge for those looking to improve upon their fitness.

After a fun, full-day out, I am so happy that we could 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 as we only had one car.

Mount Allan Hike Guide

Wildflowers on Mount Allan trail

Key Stats

Infographic for hike length

15.8 km

Infographic For Hike duration

6 – 9 hours

Infographic For Hike Elevation Gain

1,485 m

Infographic for difficulty of hike

Easy – Physically Hard

Infographic For Trailhead

Centennial Ridge trailhead

Mount Allan Parking

On the summit of the Mount Allan Hike

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

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 an obvious large switchback trail up to Centennial Ridge.

Natasha on the 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, 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.

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 the Mount Allan hike one for the books alone. Keep your eyes out for various peaks around, including Mount Sparrowhawk.

the trail up Mount Allan

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 do this, turn around for the start of the Centennial Ridge Trailhead.

Cameron on Mount Allan Summit
Looking out toward Canmore

Gear We Recommend for Hiking in the Rockies

Salomon Speedcross 5

Salomon Speedcross 5

The vast majority of hikes and easy scrambles in the Rockies, you’ll find us in our trusty Salomon Speedcross.

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.

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 closed because Bighorn ewes give 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, though there aren’t many larches on this trail and you’ll have to travel further to Arethusa Cirque for that. In November, it’s best to bring microspikes, poles, and warm clothes.

How Long Does it Take To Hike Mount Allan?

Mount Allan Hike
Past Centennial Ridge onto 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 turned around here without continuing 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 rate this hike on the easier side. The only difference is that it is a long day, given the distance and elevation gain. I would put it on par with Mount Bourgeau in Banff National Park.

However, unlike others in Kananaskis, this hike is not technical and only involves very, very light scrambling. The route is also straightforward once you are on the trail.

Are dogs and kids appropriate to hike Mount Allan?

little scrambly bits on the 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 the Mount Allan Hike?

chilling at the summit of Mount Allan
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 and there will be plenty of room on the trail for everyone.

Wildlife Awareness on The Hike

a bear in the canadian rockies

You should practice proper wildlife awareness on any hikes in Kananaskis. The region has frequent sightings of black bears, grizzly bears, moose, coyotes, and cougars. They are all a potential threat to humans, and we should reduce our impact on their natural lives.

Before hiking or walking in the Canadian Rockies, you must 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 hips.

The likeliness of seeing wildlife on this trail is high. It is a moderately trafficked trail, but bear sightings have occurred here. The meadow and valley are prime grizzly habitats, and the trail has been closed in the past due to bear activity. 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 carry bear spray and know how to use it. If you’ve come to the park without bear spray, Valhalla Pure Outfitters and Canadian Tire in Canmore sells spray and holders with employees who will demonstrate how to use them properly.  Besides bears, it’s common to see hoary marmots and pika.

Advice on Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

on the summit of Mount Allan
On the summit of Mount Allan
  • 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.
  • For long hikes, set a turnaround time at the departure. Whenever we set out for an objective, I determine a time when we need to turn around 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 even 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, which is different from the gym. The low end of this articles low end 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.
  • 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 recreational.
  • 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 $3 (per month) ever spent!

What to Wear On a Hike?

Mount Allan Hike

The most basic principle of what to wear hiking is layering. Anyone who has spent time in the 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 mountain base 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 wear hiking, we have a great example post.

Other Kananaskis Country Hikes

There are 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.

About Cameron

Cameron is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world. You can learn more on the about us page.

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