Hiking in Alberta

Gearing up for hiking in Alberta this summer By: Debbie Olsen
Visitors to Dinosaur Provincial Park can take a guided hike among the eerie rock formations known as hoodoos. // © 2012 Travel Alberta
Visitors to Dinosaur Provincial Park can take a guided hike among the eerie rock formations known as hoodoos. // © 2012 Travel Alberta

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For various Alberta dining recommendations, read where you can eat in Banff and Lake Louise


Alpine Village

Bayshore Inn

Bloomin’ Inn

Dinosaur Provincial Park

Fairmont Banff Springs

Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Hidden Ridge Resort

Prince of Wales Hotel

Ramada Brooks

Ramada Pincher Creek

Royal Tyrell Museum

The Fort Museum

It was raining lightly at the Bear’s Hump trailhead in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, and as we debated whether or not to tackle the trail in the rain, something happened. In one glorious moment, the clouds parted, the rain stopped and the sun shone down. My four children and I took it as a sign that we should head up the trail, while my husband insisted that he would wait in the car.

About a five-minute walk up the trail, we had another sign from above. The sky clouded over, the wind picked up and the rain started to pour down. By the time we reached the top, we were so drenched and cold that we barely looked at the view before running at high speed back down the mountain.

Staying in the car was clearly the smart choice to make, but that rainy day hike turned out to be one of our most memorable family hiking experiences — at least it’s the one we laugh about the most.

Alberta is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, and summer is the peak season to breathe in the fresh air, see unique flora and fauna and enjoy the outdoors on foot. Here are some suggestions for unique hiking experiences that will help your clients make unforgettable — and hopefully less soggy — memories.

Bear’s Hump
Waterton Lakes National Park

The most popular hike in Waterton, this steep, less-than-one-mile trail up Mount Crandell leads to a rock outcropping that is shaped like a grizzly’s hump and provides excellent views of the lake, the townsite and the Prince of Wales Hotel.

Getting There: A 2½-hour drive southwest of Calgary

Good Sleep: Prince of Wales Hotel or Bayshore Inn

Also Recommended: High tea at the Prince of Wales Hotel

Hike to the Drive Lanes
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

Used continuously for almost 6,000 years by aboriginal people of the North American Plains, Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. On the first Saturday of each month, the site’s Interpretive Centre hosts a three-hour educational hike. Led by a Blackfoot guide, visitors hike to the drive lanes that native hunters once used to drive buffalo to the precipice — or buffalo jump. Visitors can call ahead to reserve a spot.

Getting There: A two-hour drive southwest of Calgary

Good Sleep: Bloomin’ Inn or Ramada Pincher Creek

Also Recommended: The Musical Ride at The Fort Museum

Centrosaurus Quarry Hike
Dinosaur Provincial Park

The surreal landscape of the Alberta Badlands contains such a rich deposit of fossils from the late Cretaceous period that it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. From May to October, visitors to Dinosaur Provincial Park can sign up for a four-hour guided hike that will take them past the eerie rock formations known as hoodoos to a bone bed containing the fossilized remains of hundreds of horned dinosaurs. Spots can be booked in advance online.

Getting There: A 2½-hour drive east of Calgary

Good Sleep: Ramada Brooks

Also Recommended: Royal Tyrell Museum

Johnston Canyon
Banff National Park

Taking you into the depths of a canyon, this hike offers a shorter, three-quarter-mile trail to a waterfall and a longer 1½-mile hike that leads to the impressive 100-foot-tall upper falls.

Getting There: About a two-hour drive west of Calgary

Good Sleep: Fairmont Banff Springs or Hidden Ridge Resort

Also Recommended: Driving the Icefields Parkway, riding the Banff Gondola or sampling the Sunday brunch at the Fairmont Banff Springs

Path of the Glacier/Cavell Meadows Hike
Jasper National Park

The Path of the Glacier Interpretive Trail is ideal for families with younger children. This less than one-mile-long paved circuit trail has good interpretive signage that passes fascinating geological formations and leads to the base of Angel Glacier. More advanced hikers will wish to go on and enjoy the more difficult three-mile-long Cavell Meadows hike, which is famous for wildflowers in mid-July.

Getting There: A 3½-hour drive west of Edmonton

Good Sleep: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge or Alpine Village

Also Recommended: Maligne Canyon, Athabasca Falls or Athabasca Glacier

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