best hikes near calgary

Best Hikes Near Calgary: Half Day Hikes In South Kananaskis

To the west of Calgary, you find the Canadian Rockies. Leading up to the mountains is Kananaskis Country which includes breathtaking landscapes and diverse trails. Some of the best hikes near Calgary are accessed from the south end of the city, heading west, and I’m going to share with you these great treasures, just a stone’s throw away from the city.

I was born and raised in Calgary and I have been hiking for over 12 years so I am extremely familiar with all of these areas. All of these hikes near Calgary, I have personally done, so you can use my experience and knowledge to plan a simple trip to the country. These hikes near Calgary are accessible via Highway 22X and offer several outdoor experiences for all levels.

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Is Kananaskis Country a Provincial Park?

Kananaskis Country is 4,200 square kilometers and includes mountain landscapes, lakes, and dense coniferous forests. Those looking to go hiking near Calgary can find several stunning parks, each with its own unique charm. K-Country includes five Provincial Parks and four Wildland Provincial Parks and several Provincial Recreation Areas. Some of the best hiking can be found in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park,  Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial and Bow Valley Provincial Park to name a few. Kananaskis promises unforgettable experiences for hikers of all levels.

Kananaskis Area Map
Courtesy of

The Best Hikes Near Calgary 

All of the hikes below are accessed by heading southwest from Calgary on Highway 22X (Stoney Trail, Highway 201). As you transition from urban to rural scenery, this route serves as a gateway to Kananaskis, leading you to some great half day hikes close to the city.

Since there are so many hikes available in Kananaskis, I have separated them into different posts by major access routes. This post focuses on Elbow Valley and the south end of the Sibbald area, off Highway 22 and 66.

If you are seeking further exploration, you can head into other areas of Kananaskis Country. Along Highway 40 you can find great hikes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. An area that is a bit closer, is if you head south and west to Turner Valley to do some hikes off Highway 546 in Sheep River Provincial Park or Bluerock Wildland Provincial Park.

View from Yates Mountain

If you are looking for hikes to add to a day trip to Banff, then you have some fantastic options of hikes in Banff like Tunnel Mountain. A day trip to Canmore can also include some of the great hikes around Canmore to add to a great visit to one of these mountain towns. I recommend Grassi Lakes or Grotto Canyon.

Brown Lowery Provincial Park (Priddis)

A hidden gem located just a short drive from Calgary, Brown Lowery Provincial Park is a haven for nature lovers. It is the only one on this list that is actually not considered part of Kananaskis so you do not require a park pass to visit. It’s a little tricky to get to as you turn left onto Highway 22, even though you are on Highway 22. I’ve included the directions for you to get to the park. The parking lot is very small so I recommend getting there as early as possible.

Brown Lowery Map
Courtesy of

The park is 3 square kilometres with 12 kilometres of trails and  is one of my favorite places to hike near Calgary, when I’m short on time and looking for a quick trip out of the city. You can spend hours exploring the park and it’s a great place for birdwatching and if you are lucky you will see a Great Grey Owl in the park!

Great Grey Owl - Brown Lowery

Brown Lowery Provincial Park Perimeter Loop

This is a great route to do as you circle along the edge and trek through the forest and up to the highest points. The mid way point, Eagle View, offers a great view to the west of the mountains, as well as another view on the other side of Calgary in the distance. I love doing this route a few times a year to get different views!

Brown Lowery - Eagle View

West Bragg Creek Provincial Park

West Bragg Creek is huge! You can explore this area multiple times and still find areas you have never seen before. There are over 35 trails through this park and it is used for biking, hiking, equestrian riding, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. It is divided by the huge parking lot and is separated into two areas – the north side which is predominately where you get good elevation gain on the mountain/hillside and the south side which also has elevation gain but it’s a bit lower.

The best part about this park is that once you are out of the parking lot, the trails become off leash if you are bringing your dog! I enjoy visiting this park at all times of the year but I do tend to avoid the summer as bears do make their way into the area and a dog off leash can cause unwanted bear encounters. I tend to do most of my hiking on the north trails and I’m including one of the best hikes near Calgary.

Off leash in West Bragg Creek

Snowshoe Hare Loop

This is a great route for beginner hikers as this trail winds through the forests with a gradual incline. This trail loops around the right side of the park, forming a loop that I find is often not inundated with bikers for most of the route. It’s a great way to explore the park. You get to a bit of a meadow and there are even a couple of picnic tables if you want to take a break.

West Bragg Creek PRA

Mesa Butte via Mesa Grind Trail

This route starts out right with an incline – there is no time to ease into the climb. As you travel along forested trails you will find a few spots with openings to enjoy the view along the way. You eventually go through a bit of a flatter area before you reach the climb. The trek up the wide open hill to the top of the summit. The views are amazing and it is definitely a bit of work, but worth the reward.

What is great about this hike, is that when you get to the top, you are treated to a firepit! Volunteers manage the area keeping it stocked with supplies and firewood. It’s a great treat to take some hot dogs or marshmallows and sit around the fire with fellow hikers. I’ve done this hike twice at night, which was just as amazing!

Mesa Butte

Fullerton Loop

This is one of the best hikes near Calgary that offers wonderful views along the way and is a must-do for avid hikers.

The trail starts and ends along a flat path called the Iron Springs Trail for about 1 km on each end. As you venture up the loop, I prefer to follow the trail to the left side when doing the loop. You get a steady climb along the way to the top but once again, you are rewarded with amazing views.

Fullteron Loop

Ridgeback Trail Loop

This trail weaves through the forest so you do not get many views of the surrounding mountains. However it is a great trail for just getting out and exploring and maybe seeing some wildlife along the way. There are some ups and downs so you can get a burn in while being outdoors.

Ridgeback Trail Loop

Diamond T Loop

This trail starts from the same parking lot as the Ridgeback Trail Loop but is shorter with a bit less elevation gain. Most of the trail is through the forest with one good opening for a view. I did this trail in lots of snow, but it’s popular enough that the trails are made by others.

Diamond T Loop

Elbow Falls

A trip down to this part of Kananaskis wouldn’t be complete without a quick stop at Elbow Falls. Continue down Highway 22 / Highway 66 and you will come to the beautiful falls to round out your excursion on one of the best hikes near Calgary.

Elbow Falls


If you are hiking near Calgary, there’s a good chance you will need a pass. The Kananaskis Conservation Pass is $15/vehicle/day or you can get an annual pass for $90/two vehicles.

If you are traveling through Kananaskis, then you will not require a pass. However if you plan to stop in any of the towns including Bragg Creek, Canmore or Kananaskis Village, then you do need a pass.

Yes you do, as this area is considered part of Kananaskis. However, as soon as you pass Canmore heading west, you enter Banff National Park and then you require a National Parks Pass if you are hiking in Banff.

Detailed explanations of these trails can be found on Alltrails. You can save all of these routes through the app to access while doing the hike. I do recommend upgrading to the pro version so you ensure 100% access to the routes while hiking (yes I learned that the hard way). Remember that many areas of the Canadian Rockies do not have cellular access.

Yes! All of these hikes near Calgary are dog friendly. Actually almost everywhere in the Canadian Rockies you can take your pup, but remember to keep them on leash to avoid any encounters with wildlife, protect the land and obey the law.

Absolutely! I actually do most of these hikes in the winter, because they are closer to the city and relatively shorter in length. Ensure you  are prepared for winter hiking including crampons to ensure your safety.

All of these hikes are accessible year round. You will find in other areas, the highway is closed during the winter months so some of these hikes can only be done between May to November.

These hikes are all definitely great for those who are learning to hike, and are great introductions, with manageable distances and elevation gain.

I spent 8+ years hiking solo and that includes all of these trails. Some of these parks are very popular so it’s a good chance you will see others on the trails.

Yes there are! Please ensure you carry bear spray and follow bear safety tips, whether you are hiking in a group or on your own.

Ensure you are prepared with all the hiking essentials you need. Download your FREE hiking checklist below.

Download your FREE hiking checklist here:

Final Thoughts

This list of the best hikes near Calgary provide an abundance of natural beauty, and Kananaskis Country invites you to explore its terrain and awe-inspiring vistas. From leisurely strolls to mountain hikes, there’s something for everyone amidst the stunning landscapes of this outdoor paradise. Remember to prepare adequately,  respect the natural environment, and most importantly, enjoy the beauty of Kananaskis and its surrounding areas!

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