Kananaskis boasts some of the most scenic, challenging and enjoyable trails in Canada. There are hundreds of trails throughout the mountains and foothills. Trip planning is important – carry sufficient food, water and clothing and be prepared for animal encounters (don’t forget your bear spray!).
All About Trails
At the Friends, trails are our “thing”, and we understand them better than most. Let’s start with the simple question: When is a trail NOT a trail?
If you’re on two feet, where can you walk/ski/snowshoe in K-Country? You’ll find the answer here.
Kananaskis is home to two “Public Land Recreation Trails” — which, while called “trails”, aren’t REALLY trails as you think of them. Read more about them here.
The single most controversial route in Kananaskis is the now-decommissioned Mt. Indefatigable route, which is no longer a trail. Read why it was decommissioned, and why it’s a source of endless controversy here.
For information on front country (car accessible) camping, click here.
For information on reservable backcountry camping in designated locations, click here.
For information about random camping in Kananaskis Country, click here for our deep dive into where you can do that (Spoiler Alert: There is no place in K-Country where you can legally random camp with a car & tent, trailer or RV. But if you’re backpacking, bike-packing or on horseback, there are many.)
Leave No Trace
The Leave No Trace (“LNT”) principles are all about sustainable outdoor ethics. The Friends works hard with Land Managers to assist in the creation and maintenance of a sustainable trail system, and firmly believes in the necessity of practicing LNT. In 2019, the Friend ran an 8-part series in our newsletter regarding how LNT ethics principles applied to recreation in Kananaskis Country. Click on the links below to read our deep dive articles on the various aspect of LNT and how they apply in K-Country.
- Intro to Leave No Trace
- Plan ahead and prepare
- Travel and camp on durable surfaces
- Proper waste disposal
- Leave what you find
- Minimize campfire impacts
- Respect wildlife
- Be considerate of other visitors
- Leave No Trace and Social Media
Too busy to read all those? At LEAST look at our “How to Poop In The Woods” page.
Trail Planning Resources
Everyone urges you to “Do Your Research!” before you head out adventuring. Here’s the only guide we know of that tells you how to do that properly.
Don’t leave home without a good map. You can see some mapping resources on our Trail Maps page. If you have a map, it’s just wasted weight unless you know how to use it. A key part of that is knowing where you are. Here’s our guide to the best way to find yourself on a map or with your GPS: the UTM system.
There are those who believe all the water they see in K-Country is good to drink. We are not among them. Find out why, and find out what to do to ensure you have good water to drink in the backcountry here.
There are not many critters to truly worry about, but Ticks — like Rocky Mountain Wood Tick — are one of them. Find out why, what they can do to you, and how to prevent them here.
Here’s a quick and easy tool that will accurately predict hiking times. Sorry; we have never found one to predict times of biking, snowshoeing, XC skiing or other activities.
Safety Information & Resources
Headed out into the Kananaskis back-country? Make sure you carry an emergency kit. They don’t have to be big, bulky or expensive, as the kit we describe shows.
We (and Kananaskis Mountain Rescue) keep telling you to carry a satellite communication device. To help you pick one, here’s our (long and detailed) comparison of all of the devices on the market, including a cost comparison between them.
All hikes are not created equal. When is a hike NOT a hike? Find out the difference between hiking and scrambling – and why it matters – here.
In 2017, we partnered with the Kananaskis Mountain Rescue team to co-author a 6 part series on safety, particularly focused on K-Country. Here’s what we covered:
- What to KNOW before you go
- What to CARRY when you go
- What to WEAR to make sure your day is great
- What to EAT to keep your energy up
- What to THINK ABOUT while out there
- What to DO if everything falls apart and you need help.
We expanded that series in 2021 with one extra article:
One of the things you should know before you go is the weather you’re going to run into. Here’s a few pages that will help with that:
- How to get good forecasts
- How to get better weather radar info
- How to answer the question “How cold will it be up there?”
- What’s it like RIGHT NOW? Current weather in K-Country.
Interpretive Trail Brochures
There was a time when some of the original 1980’s Interpretive Trail network in K-Country was self-guided, and had brochures you could pick up at Info Centres or trailheads that would lead you to numbered posts on the trail.
Printing of these stopped in the 1990’s, and many of the numbered signs are no longer there (and the ones that are, are showing their age). Still, we happen to have the original PDF Guides for a few of these trails; you can download them here, and see if you can still make sense of the trail:
- Black Prince Interpretive Trail
- Middle Lake Trail
- Paddy’s Flat Trail
- Sandy McNabb Trail
- Ptarmigan Cirque Trail
- Bluerock Creek Trail
- Boulton Creek Trail
- Eau Claire Trail
- Heart Creek Interpretive Trail
- Kananaskis Canyon Trail. Be aware this trail was severely damaged by the 2013 floods; it lost all its bridges and basically doesn’t exist any more.
- Lusk Forest Interpretive Trail
- Sibbald Flat Trail
- Mountain bikers yield to hikers, horseback riders, snowshoers and skiers.
- Hikers yield to horseback riders.
- Please cooperate to help keep the trails safe and enjoyable for everyone.
- Be respectful of other trail users. If you are considerate, the next users will return your favour.
- Stay on maintained trails. Do not widen the trail or cut corners.
- To avoid damaging the trails, do not use trails in soft or muddy conditions.
- If you are making ruts in dirt or snow, please leave the trail system.
- All users please slow down at intersections and when passing other trail users.
- Don’t hike or ride on closed trails.
- Remember trail usage is a privilege, abide by trail etiquette.