Well Calgary, we have been blessed with perfect winter weather so far: warm temperatures in the city and lots of snow in the mountains. This is the ideal season for all those craving winter adventures on the weekends but still wanting clear roads for the work week. Drive anywhere from 1-3 hours away from the city to gaze at frozen waterfalls, snowy landscapes or crisp blue lakes peaking out from blankets of snow. If you’re looking for a mid-week stroll or a weekend all-day hike, check out some of these gorgeous winter adventures.
Duration: 0.5-1 hour
Length: 1 kilometre
This casual walk is situated just 40 minutes out of the city close to Bragg Creek but has the feel of the Rockies with running water and cool mountain air. Devasted by the 2013 floods, Elbow Falls is not what it used to be, however, it is still a beautiful area to take the family, the pup or explore alone as you walk through treed trails and end at the falls. This is the perfect spot to escape the city for a few hours and spend time in the peace and quiet.
Duration: 5-7 hours
Length: 12 kilometres one-way
This lengthy hike is situated deep in the Rocky Mountains, just over two hours from Calgary. Avid hikers suggest doing this trail one way, starting at the Highwood Pass parking lot and ending at the Little Highwood Pass parking lot farther up Highway 40, or vise versa. However, this requires your group to have two vehicles or depend on other hikers finishing at the same time to give you a ride back to the original parking lot. All complications aside, this hike is worth planning. Highwood Pass is the highest paved pass in Canada, allowing exquisite views as you traverse the mountains and climb to four different peaks along the way.
Duration: 2.5-3.5 hours
Length: 10.5 kilometres
Don’t let the high kilometres of this hike scare you away – Boom Lake is known for its gradual inclines and well-marked trails. This hike in Banff National Park is great for people visiting from out of town to get a taste of the Rockies without having to break much of a sweat. This route is commonly hiked, snowshoed or even skied down by experienced individuals. Follow the trails through gorgeous trees and gentle inclines to finally reach Boom Lake, covered in a thick, white, untouched blanket of snow.
Duration: 4-6 hours
Length: 15 kilometres
Follow the Smith-Dorrien Trail out of Canmore to reach this iconic hike. Know for its larches, Burstall Pass is particularly beautiful in late autumn but is still stunning in any season none the less. Make your way past Mud Lake and Burstall Lakes as you wind your way through trees, open meadows and rocky creek beds. The wide trails at the start of the hike allow for bicycles, however, you will run into a bike rack several kilometres in signalling you to dismount and continue on foot. With steady inclines, you will reach the top of the pass with breathtaking views of Banff National Park and the surrounding mountains.
Duration: 3-4 hours
Length: 5-7 kilometres
This hike is located in Kananaskis Country and has been challenging hikers for many years. The steep incline with lots of loose rubble makes it a difficult hike with outstanding views. Park officers officially decommissioned this hike several years ago due to its difficulty and the increase of bears in the area. The two benches that signalled the middle and end of the hike have been removed to reaffirm this decision. If you do decide to take on this hike, the beginning of the trail is now signalled by a pile of boulders. Make sure you bring your bear spray!
Duration: 0.5-1 hour
Length: 2.5-3 km
Peyto Lake, found just off the Icefields Parkway, is one of the most stunning views in the Rockies. With its gorgeous blue water and elevated viewpoint, Instagrammers flock to this area. Park at the Bow Summit parking lot and walk your way up to the viewpoint area. You will follow a treed path for a short walk before emerging at the open space overlooking the lake. There are several short trails around the area for you to explore while taking in the spectacular view. Dogs on a leash are welcome in this area.
Duration: 1-1.5 hours
Length: 3.4 kms
If you’ve ever driven up the Icefield Parkway highway, you will have passed Bow Lake and the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge. This beautiful area has countless walking trails winding around the lake, allowing you to adventure through the wild grasses and underbrush while enjoying the lake view and mountain air. Keep hiking around the back of the lake and you will find paths to two more challenging hikes: Bow Hut or Bow Glacier Falls. No matter what length you choose, the hikes around Bow Lake are stunning.
How many of these will you add to your 2019 bucketlist? Happy hiking Calgary!