If you live in or near Calgary you’re lucky to have a variety of first class mountain hikes to choose from within a few hours’ drive of the city. There are some cool hikes within city limits, too.
1. Nose Hill Park
Trailhead: Six parking lots provide trail access from — John Laurie Blvd., 14th St. NW and Shaganappi Trail.
Head to Nose Hill Park in northwest Calgary for superb hiking on a web of trails, many of which feel wild and far removed from a big city. Meander up and down coulees; enjoy fabulous views of downtown Calgary and marvel at the drama of the big skies on a summer evening. Keep an eye out for deer, coyotes and one of the last remnants of native grassland on the prairies.
2. Buller Pass
Trailhead: 35K south of Canmore on the Smith-Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) at the Buller Mountain day use area.
Kananaskis Country’s Buller Pass hike gets you high into the mountains via a moderate 7.3K hike with a vertical gain of 670 metres. In just four hours you can do the return hike. In fall, stands of brilliant yellow larch trees are a bonus. From your perch at Buller Pass, gaze over to Guinn Pass and down to the turquoise coloured Rainbow Lakes. Look west for a view of Mount Assiniboine.
3. Lake Agnes Tea House
Trailhead: Immediately west of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.
For a world-class hike, make your way to the Lake Agnes Teahouse via a well-trodden trail that starts at Lake Louise. It can get extremely busy, but if you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon you’ll bypass the worst of the crowds. Mirror Lake comes into view at the 2.6K mark. From there it’s less than a kilometre to the teahouse where you can enjoy a meal with a fabulous view.
4. Ha Ling Peak
Trailhead: 7K west of Canmore via the Three Sisters Parkway (Highway 742) across from the Goat Creek day use area.
If you don’t mind a little company, join the throngs on a sunny weekend and do the three kilometre hike to the top of Ha Ling Peak. From any vantage point in Canmore, it’s an imposing peak, but the hike itself is straightforward, just a bit steep at times with a vertical gain of 727 metres. You’re rewarded with hair-raising views from its airy edge. It’s a superb early-season conditioning hike.
5. Prairie Mountain
Trailhead: 22K west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66 across from Elbow Falls parking lot.
If you want an outstanding year-round hike that delivers big views in justhalf a day, head for Prairie Mountain in Kananaskis Country. Climb 726 metres, steeply at times, over 3.8K. When you break free of the trees enjoy the grand mountain views in one direction and prairie views in the other. Don’t forget the selfie by the Canadian flag on the summit.