If you’re like me, maybe you didn’t grow up near the Rocky Mountains. My first time on an Alberta trail was in 2015… and I’ve been hiking ever since! One of my favourite things about the Rockies is that there really is something for everyone. If you’re a Rocky Mountain rookie, or if you just love getting outdoors, here are 5 hikes you’ll want to check out.

We had just arrived in Calgary. After driving multiple days across the country, I still wanted add more kilometres to get to Banff. I couldn’t wait to see—for the first time—these magnificent mountains I’ve heard so much about. I still remember trying to keep my eyes on the road and gawk at the mountain fortress above on that drive to Banff. Whatever your skill and comfort level, there’s something for everyone in this Rocky Mountain playground.

Here are 5 hikes (with a bonus!) for Rocky Mountain rookies that’ll have you going back for more:

Tunnel Mountain

  • Save
Banff Springs Golf Course and Mount Rundle from the Tunnel Mountain summit.

Location: Banff
Distance: 4.5 kilometres out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 300 metre gain
Time: 1 – 1.5 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes
Features: This short summit features stellar views of Banff Town and the surrounding mountains. As a short hike in Banff, it’s one of the best options.

After strolling the streets in downtown Banff, why not head to the Tunnel Mountain trailhead just minutes away? Tunnel Mountain is a short hike with a great reward waiting for you at the top. I’d easily consider this one of the best summits for new hikers, sitting at 1,692 metres above sea level. If you want a different view of Banff, without all the crowds, head up Tunnel Mountain in the morning for a wide view of of the town and the surrounding towering mountains.

In summer or winter, the short Tunnel Mountain trail does not disappoint and is a great spot to get some fresh air and exercise. If you’re looking for an entry-level mountain hike, Tunnel is one option that’ll give you a taste for Rocky Mountain wonder.

Read more: Easy Hiking Trails: Banff’s Tunnel Mountain Summit in the Wintertime

Grassi Lakes

  • Save
Ha Ling towers above the turquoise lake at the end of the Grassi Lakes trail.

Location: Canmore
Distance: 4 kilometres out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 169 metre gain
Time: Approx. 1 – 2 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes
Features: Choose from one of two routes for this trail: 1) easy with a gentle incline or 2) a more challenging trail passing a waterfall with views of Canmore. Whichever you choose, the Grassi Lakes trail ends at the beautiful turquoise lake with Ha Ling Peak looking down from above.

So you’re near Canmore and want a short hike with incredible views? That’s easy! Head over to the Grassi Lakes trailhead just outside of the downtown area.

Grassi Lakes trail is a heavily trodden trail that’s suitable for most. When friends come from away, this short and sweet trail is the perfect option before spending time exploring the nooks and crannys of downtown Canmore. If the reward of a stunning turquoise lake waiting at the end isn’t enough motivation, I don’t know what is!

Grassi Lakes is quite accessible and is therefore very popular. Thankfully, there are so many other options to avoid crowded trails near Canmore.

Johnston Canyon

  • Save
One of the waterfalls at Johnston Canyon.

Location: Banff National Park
Distance: 12 kiolmetres out and back
Difficulty: Easy to moderate due to length
Elevation: 330 metres gain
Time: Approx. 4 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes
Features: This popular trail features the lower and upper waterfalls leading up to the “ink pots” pools.

Johnston Canyon trail has got to be one of the busiest trails in Banff National Park. At the same time, it’s a must-do, non-technical hike. If you can, visit during the week or you’ll be marching along like a herd of cattle (How’s that for an Alberta experience?).

This trail boasts two main waterfalls and leads up to the “ink pots”—pools of blue and green water that resemble pots of ink. The Johnston Canyon trailhead is found on the Bow Valley Parkway about 40 kilometres from Banff.

Read more: Ptarmigan Cirque and Arethusa Cirque: 2 Short Hikes in Alberta’s Kananaskis Country

Troll Falls

  • Save
Marmot Falls on the Troll Falls trail.

Location: Kananaskis Country
Distance: 3.5 kilometres out and back
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 40 metre gain
Time: Approx. 1 – 2 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes
Features: This Kananaskis trail is very forested and features three different waterfalls. This is a perfect option for new hikers or families with young children.

Troll Falls trail is a Kananaskis favourite that’s great for everyone. The Troll Falls trailhead is just under 100 km from Calgary near Kananaskis Village. This is a nice outing for novice hikers and waterfall lovers alike. Whether you’re alone or with your family, Troll Falls is an enjoyable little outing away from the bustling city.

Johnson Lake

  • Save
There are beautiful views of Johnson Lake and the Rocky Mountain landscape on this trail.

Location: Banff National Park
Distance: 3 km loop
Difficulty: Easy
Elevation: 70 m gain
Time: Approx. 1 hour
Dog-friendly: Yes
Features: Stunning views of Johnson Lake and the surrounding mountains for the entire hike.

If you’re like me, you enjoy hiking near or around lakes. Alberta is known for its turquoise waters and Johnson Lake is one of those iconic scenes. The trail around the lake is suitable for novice hikers. In the summertime, the lake is a popular spot for a swim or picnic. The trailhead is located near the Johnston Lake parking lot.

Read more: Hiking the Loop Around Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

BONUS: Ha Ling Peak

  • Save
The Town of Canmore from Ha Ling Peak.

Location: Canmore
Distance: 8 km out and back
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Elevation: 760 m gain
Time: Approx. 4 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes
Feature: The hike begins in the forest with lots of switchbacks, and leads above the treeline to the rocky summit overlooking the town of Canmore.

If you’re up for a challenge and want to hike up a mountain, Ha Ling is a good option. Ha Ling Peak was my first mountain hike nearly five years ago. For someone who had never experienced the Rockies, it certainly wasn’t an easy trail. But now that I’ve hiked several different trails in the area, I can say that it’s not the most difficult option either. The trailhead is just outside of Canmore. If you’re ready to hike up a mountain instead of just hiking near mountains, Ha Ling is a great trail to consider.

Did I miss any Rocky Mountain hikes that should be on this list? What entry-level trails would you suggest for new hikers looking to experience the Rockies? Let me know in the comments below!


Do you like this post? Sign up for monthly email updates and you’ll get my latest blog posts, adventure tidbits, and more directly to your inbox.

Processing…
Success! You're on the list.

5 Easy Hikes for Rocky Mountain Rookies (Plus a Bonus!) via @outandacross
  • Save

Leave a Reply