Yesterday marked the first official day of summer, so you know what that means—dust off your hiking boots, pack the SPF and snacks—it’s time to take a hike!
The team at g[squared] are lovers of the great outdoors, so naturally, many of our summer plans involve hikes, hikes and more hikes. In fact, as a team, our cumulative knowledge isn’t limited to all things marketing, communications and business strategy. This pack of nerds also knows a thing or two about hittin’ the trails.
Here's our top 10 favourite Alberta hikes (in no particular order):
- Elk Island Park – Moss Lake TrailFor a trail located just 45 minutes west of the city, Moss Lake Trail boasts a lot of beauty. We love this trail because it makes the perfect day trip with maximum potential to spot bison, elk, waterfowl and if you’re really lucky, beavers! Small rolling hills through sandy soil and vegetative terrain make this hike a moderate endeavour. It’s 12.5 km roundtrip and will take you about 4 hours.Hot tip: This trail doubles as the perfect cross-country ski trail in the winter.
- Canmore – Ha Ling PeakDo yourself a favour and wake up real early for this hike so you can watch the sunrise from Ha Ling Peak. Is there anything better than seeing a glorious sunrise over glistening mountain peaks? Nope. The trail itself is a 7.2 km out-and-back and is considered a difficult hike. Don’t let that deter you, it’s well worth the effort. Best of all, your furry friend can join you on this one (kept safely on a leash, of course.)Hot tip: Don’t forget, this summer everyone parked at the provincial park and public land sites in Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley needs a Conservation Pass.
- Kananaskis – Kings Creek RidgeWe won’t lie: Kings Creek Ridge isn’t for the faint of heart. This trail is rated difficult and she’s steep for nearly the entire 6.8 km out-and-back. We recommend proper hiking shoes and some grit (of spirit, not actual dirt). The trail can be slippery and muddy if the weather has been intermittent, so come well prepared. You will be rewarded at the summit by some of the most stunning 360° views you’ve ever laid eyes on—endless miles of park and sprawling mountain ranges. What better pay-off could you ask for?Hot tip: Hiking poles will be your best friend on this hike, if not for the way up but the way down—did we mention this trail is steep?
- Abraham Lake – Vision QuestWe’re here for the views, baby! This hike rewards you with spectacular views of the ever-gorgeous Abraham Lake. To be fair, this one’s a leg-burner. It’s also a steep climb and scramble to the summit. The trail is 6.3 km out-and-back and rated as difficult, so it’s best to bring your hiking poles for this one too.Hot tip: The views from the false summit are just as breathtaking as they are from the true summit, so if you’ve reached your limit by this point, don’t fret, you’re not missing out.
- Abraham Lake – All Stones TrailThis 10 km out-and-back trail is rated moderate and crosses through the vibrant Kootenay Plains ecological reserve making it the perfect trail for botany enthusiasts. The trail tends to be steep, so brace your knees for impact on the way down (we hate to be repetitive but, hiking poles help).Hot tip: Pack your SPF as the majority of this trail is in the bright, open sunshine.
- Kananaskis – Jewel Pass via Prairie Viewvia Prairie ViewNot the most experienced hiker but still wanna get out there? We recommend the Jewel Pass via Prairie View trail. It is rated moderate and is a 15.9 km loop that boasts views of Barrier Lake and Mount Grotto, Mount Rundle and of course, the famous Three Sisters.Hot tip: Hike this trail in a counterclockwise direction. The climb is steep to start but you’ll get it out of the way early and then it’s a breezy gradual path back down.
- Jasper – Sulphur Skyline TrailSwitchbacks through the forest with pristine views of Fiddle Valley make the steady uphill trek worth it from the start. This trail is 7.9 km out-and-back and rated moderate. The 360° views at the summit are worth lingering around a few extra minutes for, as you take in a view of Utopia Mountain. This hike is seasonal and the road to the trailhead is closed in the winter months, so plan your trip for summer through fall.Hot tip: The trail starts and ends in the Miette Hot Springs parking lot, so if the springs are open (they’ve been closed during the pandemic), start the hike early and end your day with a dip in the cold pools to ease your weary muscles. Hot springs still closed? Don’t fret! The nearby hotel restaurant serves delicious soft-serve ice cream—need we say more?
- Jasper – Cabin Lake LoopThis easy-breezy trail is perfect for all skill levels. The loop is a quick 6.8 km and, as the name suggests, features a lake (glacier cold, but we double dare you take a dip). The trail passes through forest and open clearings with an abundance of wildflowers to admire.Hot tip: Lots of mosquitos. Bring your bug spray.
- Banff – Mt. Saint PiranAdd this hike to your ‘Larch March’ bucket list. Less busy than the nearby Lake Agnes Teahouse hike, but just as stunning, the golden larch forest will take your breath away. This 12 km out-and-back is rated difficult, but the summit will reward you with views of (most of) Lake Louise’s famous peaks and turquoise lakes.Hot tip: It can be very windy at the summit and in the shoulder seasons it tends to be icy/snow-covered. Wear proper layers and footwear.
- Kananaskis – Mist Mountain Springs TrailThis 6.4 km out-and-back trail is rated difficult, but if you stay the course you won’t regret it. This trail features a natural hot spring, surrounded by the most majestic views one could ask for. The keys to success on this trail are to wear plenty of layers and proper footwear. The weather can change quickly and run the gamut of rain, snow and wind, making conditions cold and slippery.Hot tip: Begin this hike well before sunrise to beat the crowds. The two springs are small pools, big enough for 2-3 people, so on a busy day you’ll have to wait your turn. Don’t forget to bring your bathing suit!