Category Archives: The Mountain Man Blog

If You Love Banff Whitewater Rafting, You’ll Love Durango, Colorado

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If you're looking for the thrill of Banff whitewater rafting somewhere closer to home, rafting in Durango, Colorado might be perfect for you.

DURANGO, COLORADO – I’m a rafting aficionado and I especially love rafting Kicking Horse River just outside of the Banff, Alberta. The Kicking Horse River gives you the chance to really live on the edge. This year will even be even more interesting with the some great mountain run off.

When whitewater rafting in Banff, Alberta, make sure to hook up with Banff Whitewater Rafting for a locally-led trip down the Kicking Horse River.

But when I head south and go to the Colorado Rockies, one of my favorite rivers is the Animas River in Durango, Colorado. Colorado is one of the best states in USA for thrill-seeking rafting, and Durango rafting offers varying class levels. For example, the Piedra River is especially gnarly, narrow and not for the faint of heart. If you want more information, head on over to DurangoRafting.org and see what the Durango Rafting Alliance has to say. Durango is a really cool college town with exceptional micro breweries. Check out Durango, Colorado on their live-streaming city and train cam.

Where do I go for Banff whitewater rafting? Well, hey, I get good deals since I am an esteemed blogger. For great Banff, Canada rafting packages, check out Banff Whitewater Rafting at 1 800 519 4770. You can go rafting with some killer Lake Louise locals named Ted and Liz. Ted and Liz are official providers for the Alberta Rafting Alliance. You can even get a live look at Banff, Alberta using their user-controlled webcam.

For more information on rafting in Colorado, check out ColoradoRafting.org and let your adventure begin!

Canadian Rockies Winter Vacations: Six great activities

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Well, my friends, winter in the Canadian Rockies is steadily approaching, and that’s got me thinking of some of my favorite winter activities, and places for them in the Rockies.

Canmore, Alberta is high on my list of places to go when the snow starts to fly. You’ve got awesome ski resorts within short driving distance, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and some of the best nordic skiing paths you’ll find anywhere, along with lots of other winter activities.

The Canadian Rockies winter is breathtaking, and not just because of the cold temps.

You’ll find Canmore well-situated for taking advantage of the the Canadian Rockies’ great outdoors, sitting basically at the crossroads of Kananaskis Country and Banff National Park.

Here are five of the many activities you can enjoy in this winter wonderland.
  1. Ice Walking: Hike over a sheet of natural that covers the bottom of a breathe-taking canyon. Sounds like a slippery proposition? Don’t worry, you’ll be wearing ice cleats that’ll give you a solid on the ice as you explore the Pictographs, Grotto Canyon, and the Ice Falls. The ice walk only takes about 1.5 to 2 hours total time, but they’re two hours you’re not likely to forget anytime soon. I’d recommend doing this trip with a guide, to get the best out of it and to stay safe.
  2. Ice Climbing: Does this sound like something you couldn’t possibly do? Think again. Canmore is a great place for beginners to test the (frozen) waters of this extreme sport. Take a beginners ice climbing course and you’ll learn the “ropes” with professional guide instructors who will help you do it safely. One of a kind locations, and an experience well beyond the ordinary await you.
  3. Snowshoe Walks: To snowshoe in Canmore, you won’t need to learn any new skills. Just strap on the shoes and go for a walk. In just a short time after leaving Canmore, you can be out enjoying the winter peace and quiet, truly enjoying nature’s beauty. Guided snowshoe tours can help you discover Canmore’s winter wildlife where, if you’re a little lucky, you can follow the tracks of the wolf, coyote or lynx.
  4. Cross Country Skiing: Cross Country or Nordic skiing is one of the best known winter activities in the Canmore area. Canmore served as host community for cross country and biathlon competitions during the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. The Nordic Centre in Canmore continues hosting competitive ski events and provides an incredible facility for beginners and other recreational skiers to enjoy world class facilities, track set trails and snowmaking. A number of wilderness areas around Canmore offer track set systems.
  5. Dog Sledding: In Canmore, you’ll find three world-class outfitters offering daily trips of varying lengths in what is known to be one of the most terrific natural settings in the Canadian Rockies, dog sledding is an very popular vacation activity. Trips vary in length, and certainly go well beyond the very soft adventure that they can also be.
  6. Skiing and Snowboarding: When it comes to skiing and snowboarding in the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is well known for four great ski areas that run from world class slopes to great locals skiing areas.
  • Sunshine Village – Just 20 minutes from Canmore, the Sunshine high-speed gondola zips skiers up to the village at 7,000 feet. From here, numerous high-speed quads spread out all over this fabulous ski area – most of the rides and runs will keep you above treeline so you’ll get great views on top of great riding.
  • Mt. Norquay –Just  15 minutes from Canmore, the Mt. Norquay is well known as a place for locals to run out and get some runs on a whim. You can enjoy it too on your vacation. Norquay’s got plenty to offer skiers and snowboarders all day long, and the only night skiing in the area every Friday.
  • Lake Louise –Only  an hour after leaving Canmore, you can be at the top of Lake Louise ski resort, looking down into the Bow Valley and preparing for an epic day of skiing or snowboarding.
  • Nakiska – About a 40-minute drive from Canmore into Kananaskis Country, Nakiska offers runs for various ability levels, with family cruisers, fun glades, and steep corduroy groomers to race down (evoking the 1988 Olympics, perhaps – Nakiska hosted the downhill events).

Reader Reviews (and rips) Jasper’s Miss Italia

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Jasper, Alberta

Normally I, as someone who calls the Canadian Rockies home, and spends a lot of time in Canmore, Banff and Jasper, am used to hearing nothing but good stuff about our local restaurants. So I was somewhat taken aback by what one reader sent us on Jasper’s Miss Italia:

On holiday from the UK and visited Jasper with my family. We ate at “Miss Italia” over a week ago and was probably one of the worst meals we ever experienced, thus avoided paying any service charge. It was apparent that things weren’t cooked fresh! The pasta was basically over-cooked mush and the pasta sauces lacked any flavor. My wife had the pasta with meatballs and this so bad, she could only take one taste of it – tried it myself and have tasted better from a can. I really could of cooked something better in 5 mins. Really very dreadful and meals cooked with no passion and not mention expensive. Avoid!

Roger Johnson

Horsham Sussex

Yowch! Roger was apparently not very happy with Miss Italia, and from surfing around a bit on the old internet, I’ve seen that there have been similar complaints. Still, you never know, and we’d willing to hear from readers who have other opinions, positive or no, on this and any other restaurant. Just contact us with your review, and we’ll let your voice (and stomach) be heard.

Getting Canadian Rockies Vacation Advice from the Experts

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The Canadian Rockies are a big, wide region. Consider that Banff National Park covers almost 7,000 square km, Jasper National Park another 10,000 and Kananaskis Country another 4,200 or so. That alone is more than 21,000 square km, almost exactly the size of New Jersey, and it’s leaving out Waterton Lakes, the Yoho and other great Canadian Rockies destinations.

Jasper and the Canadian Rockies offer much to see. Get some expert advice!

The fact is that no one person can cover enough of the Canadian Rockies in a life time to be an expert on the entire place. Which is why over at Rockies.com they’ve been interviewing various experts on the Canadian Rockies, getting the advantage of several lifetimes worth of experience to give you some great info, with their Rockies Insiders section.

Here’s are 5 great interviews they’ve done in the last few weeks:

1. Photography: Advice on improving your Canadian Rockies photography, and places to shoot (your camera) in Canadian Rockies with Mike Grandmaison. Grandmaison is a long time pro photographer who has shot an entire book about the Canadian Rockies.

2. Icefields Parkway: A tour of the famous Icefields Parkway with Brad White. Brad’s a mountain man, if I’ve ever heard of one. He’s lived in Banff for 50 years, and worked for Parks Canada for 28 of those. His most recent work finds him as Banff’s Mountain Safety Program Specialist, doing Mountain Rescue and Avalanche forecasting and control.

3. Banff Vacation Tips: Marc Pinel, founder of the Grand Nature Club, a Banff-based hiking club offer his Banff hiking tips as well as some general Banff vacation information from him.

4. Jasper Best of: Peter Amann offered up his picks for some of the best places to see in Jasper National Park. Amann has been has been the president of the Jasper section of the Alpine Club, Canada’s official mountaineering organization, since 1992, and is a long-time Jasper tour guide.

5. Jasper with Parks Canada: Parks Canada representative Thea Mitchell give her take on what to do with children in Jasper National Park, and some great ways to get prepared for your first backpacking trip in Jasper.

Good stuff so far, and they’ve got plans to do a lot more, so stay tuned. I know I will be!

Canoeing Banff: From Castle Junction to Banff

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The mountain man isn’t always the most graceful traveler in the Canadian Rockies. I’ve fallen off of rafts, crashed on my skis, gone over the handlebars on my mountain bike, and even fell of a cliff on a golf cart one time.

Canoeing is a great way to explore the Canadian Rockies.

So I naturally gravitate toward canoeing. Not that this is easier, or always completely safe and adrenaline free. The rivers of the Rockies can move fast and have plenty of rapids. But all in all, canoeing in the Canadian Rockies can be a great way to relax, kickback and enjoy some of Banff National Park‘s great scenery.

Before heading out on your canoe, be sure to scope out Banff and the weather with the free Banff webcam. Afterward, come back to town for great restaurants, hotels and brewpubs. Below you’ll find a guide to one of my favorite Banff canoe trips.

Castle Junction to Banff

This portion of Alberta’s Bow River lies on the east side of the Trans-Canada Highway and the west side of the Canadian Pacific Railway line and Highway 1A (Bow Valley Parkway). The Bow River runs steadily down the valley, with islands and side channels you’ll want give yourself time to explore. There are plenty of riffles and Class 1 rapids, along with one Class 3 rapid at Redearth Creek, some tight corners, sweepers and logjams, that will keep it interesting. Be sure to take care when canoeing this section.

Put in at the parking lot below the bridge over the Bow River at Castle Junction. After 6km of river you’ll reach Johnston Creek, flowing in from river left. On the downstream side of Johnston Creek you’ll find a sign for a backcountry campsite. Another 3km past Johnston Creek, a right bend in the river leads you towards the Trans-Canada Highway and the Castle Mountain Viewpoint.

This landmark indicates you are nearing Redearth Creek Rapids. As you paddle below the viewpoint, the river turns left, away from the highway. In just a few hundred metres, the river turns sharply right into the area of Redearth Creek Rapids. Rated Class 3, these rapids are a long section of fast water moving over rocks. The waves are non-stop, getting larger as you approach the end. Man a canoe has capsized or swamped here, but proper scouting and safety procedures, this rapid can be run by experienced canoeists.

If you have any doubts, portage the rapid. There is no marked portage route. But from the top of the rapid on river right, you can make your way along the shore to where Redearth Creek enters the Bow River. From there, wade across the creek and carry your canoe along the riverside trail to the end of the rapids.

A few km below Redearth Creek, the river becomes convoluted. It may not be obvious, but the river here branches into two or three channels. This is a risky section, with tight corners, endless sweepers and dangerous logjams. Pay attention and be safe!

The large gravel fan at the Wolverine Creek entrance on river right, is where you can finally rest a little, knowing the hardest parts are behind you. Another 5.5 km brings you back to the Trans-Canada Highway. This is a good place to take out as there is a gate through the fence to access a roadside parking area off the westbound lane of the highway.

Another 0.5 km brings you to the Trans-Canada Highway bridge over the Bow River. Careful going under the bridge as there are several sweepers on the left side of the river. From it’s a pleasant, 1.5 – 2 hour paddle to Banff. The river is broad and calm, allowing beautiful views of the lower Bow Valley. Take out at the canoe docks, at the junction of the Bow River and Echo Creek. Do not paddle past the canoe docks as Bow Falls is just around the corner.

Distance: 32 km (takes about 5 – 6 hours)

Level: intermediate

Canadian Rockies Mountain Biking: Jasper Trails

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Jasper National Park is huge. It covers some of the best terrain in the Canadian Rockies, and seeing it all on a vacation, even in a lifetime, is pretty much impossible. But if you want to get out and see a huge part of this beautiful country, you should try mountain biking Jasper.

You’ll get around faster and cover more area than you would on foot, but enjoy a more quiet, natural experience than you would from your car.

Below you’ll find a selection of Jasper mountain bike trails. To see Jasper, live, check out the Jasper webcam. Also, you may want to visit this Rockies biking blog.

Jacques Lake

Distance: 13 km

Begin at Medecine Lake’s south end, at the Beaver Lake picnic area, and follow a lushly vegetated valley 5 km to the first Summit Lake. The going is pretty flat up to Beaver Lake, making for an easy ride suitable for just about anyone. The going to Jacques Lake can be somewhat difficult due to mud, if there’s been lots of rain or recent snowmelt.

Fryatt Trail

Distance: 10 km

Jump on this bike trail 2 km up the Geraldine Fire Road at the Fryatt Valley parking lot. The trail cuts through a somewhat thick forest at a low elevation for the first 8.2 km, the ride includes several creek crossings. From the lower Fryatt campsite, you can hike another 10 km to the upper Fryatt Valley on foot.

Whirlpool Fire Road

Distance: 11.5 km

Driving down Hwy. 93A catch the Moab Lake turnoff and go to the Moab Lake parking lot. From there it is 8.5 km to the end of the fire road. You can hike or bike another 3 km from here to Tie Camp on foot.

Snake Indian Falls

Distance: 48 km

Drive down Celestine Lake Road to the Celestine Lake parking area where the North Boundary Trail begins. A nicely-graded gravel road goes from here for 22 km to Snake Indian Falls. Just 1 kilometre past the falls, the road becomes a heavily-trafficed trail to the Willow Creek area and the Rock Lake exit.

Fortress Lake Trail

Distance: 25 km

This ride begins at Sunwapta falls and following an old fire road. The trail is great for the first 16k, all the way to the Athabasca Crossing suspension bridge. After the bridge the biking gets pretty rough, but it is possible hike another 9 km to Fortress Lake.

Here’s are 7 Rules of the Road for mountain biking in Jasper, or anywhere, really:

  1. Plan it, darn it! Know your equipment, be honest about your abilities, and check up on the riding trail, preferably with a park ranger. Prepare accordingly. A little planning is often the difference between a horrible day and an awesome day.
  2. Stay in Control. Don’t go faster, or attempt terrain that you know you can’t handle. Always be attentive and mind bicycle regulations and recommendations.
  3. Leave no trace. It’s everyone’s park, so treat it with respect by following a few simple rules. Stay on maintained  trails and don’t create new ones. Pack out what you pack in, and bonus points if you pack out some other jerk’s discarded rubbish.
  4. Don’t scare the wildlife. You don’t like it when someone sneaks up on you, and neither do wild animals. Usually, the repercussions of doing this with a bear are worse though. Avoid unannounced approaches, a sudden movements, or a loud a noises. These actions can be dangerous for you, others, and wildlife. Give wildlife space and time to adjust to you, and make some noise as you come down the trail.
  5. Ride open trails only. Respect the trail and avoid areas which are closed to bikes. They are closed for a reason. Seriously, no one is trying to hide trails from you just to ruin your vacation. Also, remember that the way you ride will influence Parks Canada trail management decisions and policies.
  6. Always yield the trail. Make your approach known well in advance. A greeting, a bell or some other noise is basic politeness; don’t startle others. Show respect when passing by, slowing to a walking pace or, if need be, stopping. Anticipate trail users around corners and in blind spots.
  7. Put a lid on it! Always wear a helmet.

Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.

Jasper National Park Mountain Biking Trails

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One thing about vacationing in the Canadian Rockies: you’ll never run out of outdoor activities to do. Rafting, mountain biking, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, hiking, it goes on and on when you find yourself in Jasper National Park, Banff National Park or Kananaskis Country.

Mountain biking in the Canadian Rockies offers great views with a good dose of exercise.

If you want to get out and see a whole lot of the Canadian Rockies and get some exercise, try a mountain biking tour in Jasper. It’s fun, you’ll get some adrenaline, exercise and great sight seeing.

Below you’ll find a guide to  a few of Japser’s mountain biking trails. Check out conditions in and around Jasper with the free, live Jasper webcam. Also, you may want to check out this Rockies biking blog.

Athabasca River Trail

This ride begins at the Old Fort Point trail, and goes behind the beautiful golf course at The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. The first 12 km have some solid uphill segments that’ll get your blood flowing. Remember, no bikes between the first and fifth bridges on the self-guided trail at Maligne Canyon. Avoid this by riding down Maligne Road to the Fifth Bridge turnoff 3 km below. Cross the bridge and pedal to Trail #7 on the far side. Take a left to Sixth Bridge and continue along the trail runs beside the Athabasca River to Old Fort Point, or head back to Jasper along Highway 16.

Distance: 23 km

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

The Mina-Riley Lake Loop

Trail guide: Start at the parking lot opposite Japser’s Aquatic Center. The trail climbs steeply to the left, then intersects with the Cabin Lake fire road. Cross the road and pedal past a big pond continuing on to Mina Lake. At about 3.5km from the lake a marked trail leads down a steep hill to Riley Lake. Turn around at the intersection with trail #6 (no bikes allowed on 6). Head back using the main trail by turning left onto the fire road at km 7. A right turn onto the paved Pyramid Lake Road will lead you back down to Jasper.

Distance: 9 km

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Saturday Night Loop

Trail guide: The trail starts on the west side of Jasper just before The Cabin Creek West subdivision. Take the trail leading from the parking lot on the left. The trail takes you uphill, following a low ridge with nice views of the Athabasca and Miette Valleys.After  From High Lakes to Saturday Night Lake you’ll find swampy sections, but from there to Cabin Lake is easy riding.  After Cabin Lake, ride along the fire road to the intersection with Pyramid Lake Road and take a right to return to Jasper.

Distance: 27.4 km

Level: Advanced

The Overlander Trail

You’ll find the trailhead 20 km east of Jasper on Hwy 16. Look for the trailhead at the second parking lot when the highway crosses the Athabasca River. The trail parallels the river, which makes for great views. Close to the end of this trail you turn down a right-hand fork and cross a small creek (don’t worry, there’s a bridge). Continue on the edge of the river to the junction of the Maligne and Athabasca rivers at Sixth Bridge picnic area.

Distance: 14 km

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Here’s are 7 Rules of the Road for mountain biking in Jasper, or anywhere, really:

  1. Don’t scare the wildlife. You don’t like it when someone sneaks up on you, and neither do wild animals. Usually, the repercussions of doing this with a bear are worse though. Avoid unannounced approaches, a sudden movements, or a loud a noises. These actions can be dangerous for you, others, and wildlife. Give wildlife space and time to adjust to you, and make some noise as you come down the trail.
  2. Plan it, darn it! Know your equipment, be honest about your abilities, and check up on the riding trail, preferably with a park ranger. Prepare accordingly. A little planning is often the difference between a horrible day and an awesome day.
  3. Stay in Control. Don’t go faster, or attempt terrain that you know you can’t handle. Always be attentive and mind bicycle regulations and recommendations.
  4. Leave no trace. It’s everyone’s park, so treat it with respect by following a few simple rules. Stay on maintained  trails and don’t create new ones. Pack out what you pack in, and bonus points if you pack out some other jerk’s discarded rubbish.
  5. Ride open trails only. Respect the trail and avoid areas which are closed to bikes. They are closed for a reason. Seriously, no one is trying to hide trails from you just to ruin your vacation. Also, remember that the way you ride will influence Parks Canada trail management decisions and policies.
  6. Always yield the trail. Make your approach known well in advance. A greeting, a bell or some other noise is basic politeness; don’t startle others. Show respect when passing by, slowing to a walking pace or, if need be, stopping. Anticipate trail users around corners and in blind spots.
  7. Put a lid on it! Always wear a helmet.

Keep trails open by setting a good example of environmentally sound and socially responsible off-road cycling.

Canmore Hiking: Three More for the Trail

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I’ve been writing a lot about mountain biking the Rockies lately, but today I thought the mountain man should give it a rest and do some work on his old favorite past time, hiking. One of my favorite places for hiking, that sometimes gets overlooked by vacationers, is the Canmore, Alberta area.

Explore Canmore and Kananaskis Country with a great hike.

Canmore sits right on the edge of Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country, and has some of the most beautiful scenic peaks, rivers, flower meadows and waterfalls you’ll find in the Rockies.

Add that to great local pubs, restaurants and lodging, and you’ve got yourself an excellent place to spend some vacation time, whether you’re a mountain man or a tourist. If you want to check it out for yourself, visit the Canmore webcam. Anyway, here’s a couple quick local hikes to get you on your way in Canmore.


Heart Creek

My first selection is an easy trail that begins along the highway pull-off. Basically, you’ll follow the highway very shortly, then walk along Heart Creek. Heading upstream towards Bow River, this walk is nice and mellow, with a view of huge limestone rocks frequented by expert rock climbers. The finish line is at the small waterfall waiting for Heart Creek hikers, and it’s possible to get a closer look at the cascade if hikers can stand a little bit of wet feet afterwards.

Skogan Pass

Here’s a more moderate hike, located near Dead Man’s Flats and tackle Skogan Pass. From Alpine Resort Haven to the top of Skogan Pass, this is a 10-kilometer hike climbing 677 meters (2,221 feet) upwards. This hike has a nice, which can make the hiking much easier. As hikers ascend to the summit a beautiful view of the town of Banff and the rugged Cascade Mountain is their backdrop — an added touch of nature for pauses and lunch stops along the trail. On the way back, hikers can either return on the same trail or turn at marker 20.3 for a nice wander along Ribbon Creek Trailhead.

Heart Mountain

This final hike is a bit more challenging. Hikers who want to get some real exercise, the kind of exercise that makes you forget you ever worked in and office, will want to take this trail on. Basically, this is just a straight walk up a mountain, with no switchbacks. Begin at the Heart Creek Day Use Area and follow the Heart Creek Trail. Continue up the ridge and begin climbing upwards until arriving at the summit. It’s hard work, but the ending view is a magnificent shot of the Bow Valley.

Hiking Canmore: The Easy Way

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Being a mountain man, you can probably guess what my favorite Canadian Rockies activity is. Yep, that’s right, hiking. What better way to enjoy the quiet beauty of one of the world’s best outdoor vacation spots than on your own two feet? And if you’re looking to take a hike, Canmore, Alberta is one of the best places in the Rockies.

Find some nice easy hikes near the town of Canmore.

Canmore sits right on the edge of both Banff National Park and the amazing Kananaskis Country, offering excellent mountain views, rivers, lakes and wildlife watching to keep the hikes interesting. After you’ve gotten a good walk in, come back to town for cozy lodging, restaurants, and Canmore pubs. To get a quick view of this area, check out the Canmore Webcam.

And now, without further babbling, here are the mountain man approved easy hikes in the Canmore area.

Policeman’s Creek — This is more of a stroll through town than a hike. But whatever you call it, it’s fun. Pass historic buildings and duck ponds, maybe pop into a cafe for a drink. It’s a relaxing walk combining the town charm with surrounding nature. Great way to get out if you’ve only got a short time.

Grotto Canyon — If you love waterfalls and rivers , you’ll enjoy the hike along Grotto Canyon. The hike starts with a trickling runoff and builds to an nice waterfall  at the trail’s end. There are also pictographs left by natives to the area. Many of these images have been worn away by from fingerprints and climbers.

No. 1 Minesite — This is a mellow and short walk through the area’s historic No. 1 mining site. It’s fun, quick, and exciting for those looking to go back in time. A further walk will bring hikers to waterfalls and cold sulphur springs Canmore is known for.

Riverside Loop — Another mosey through Canmore beside the Bow River, this loop is a scenic waltz in and around town. Park downtown or on River Road and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of Canmore’s nature and beauty.

Hiking Canmore: The moderate way

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Some of the best of the Canadian Rockies’ best hiking can be found in Canmore, Alberta and surrounding Kananaskis Country. It’s got everything you want in the Rockies: dramatic mountain vistas, pristine rivers, streams, waterfalls and lakes, abundant wildlife… It’s perfect for your Canadian Rockies hiking vacation.

Canmore, Alberta. You know you want to hike here!

And when you’re done hiking, you’ll find plenty of great pubs, restaurants and lodging to regale you and prepare you for the next Canadian Rockies adventure.

One of the great things about this area is that there are a wide variety of hikes for all levels. Below, you’ll find the mountain man approved selection of “moderate difficulty” hikes. Also, be sure to check out the Canmore webcam to get a great view of the area!

Cougar Creek — Cougar Creek (let the jokes about mature women chasing young men begin) begins at the parking lot on Elk Run Blvd. and continues either up the mountain or along the canyon. Both choices will offer fantastic scenery and photo opportunities that are simply priceless. Watch out for the steep areas, and be sure to bring a hiking partner.

Gnassi Lakes — This 5k hike offers a lot to discover and see. Begin just after the Canmore Nordic Center at the bottom of Smith-Dorrian Spray Trail. Although the beginning is a fire road, a quick turn leads hikers through the luscious and peaceful forest. As the hike through the woods slowly begins to ascend a beautiful waterfall reveals itself. When hikers arrive at the summit they will be greeted by emerald green and turquoise-colored lakes. Additional pictographs can be spotted, and there’s a rock scramble to climb for a closer look.

Goat Creek — An 18k trail going from the top of Whiteman Pass to Banff Springs Hotel. The trail drops a fairly sharp 291 meters (957 feet), though to help ease the big up and big down the trail is mostly wise and smooth. It’s an ideal choice for mountain bikers, and the walk back up offers some incredible places to pause and soak up the scenery.