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Baldy Pass - Hike

A moderate hike through the trees and across varying terrain. There is no amazing view from the top, but for exercise and a simple good time this can be a nice short hike.

Difficulty: moderate
Round trip: 8 km
Hiking Time: 2.5 - 3.5 hrs 
Elevation Gain: 420 m
FitBit: approx. 13,500 steps and 138 flights of stairs
Location: Kananaskis

Marked: yes
Facilities: yes 
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1 until you can take exit 118 to Kananaskis Trail/ Hwy 40. Drive approximately 15km to where you will see a sign for Baldy Pass Trail and park in the lot on the west side of the road.

Click for directions from Calgary.
Trail Map
Your trailhead is across the road from the parking lot so on the east side of the highway. You'll see a pedestrian crossing leading to the start of the trail. The initial part of the hike is easy, you won't accumulate terribly much elevation until you are about midway. The terrain changes back and forth from dirt and rooty paths to a rocky washed out riverbed, so as usual wear appropriate footwear.

There is only one fork in the path, but it is close to the start and there is a map to direct you. Simply keep left along the more beaten trail and continue hiking east. Most of the trail is among the trees, but when out of the shade the sun can be warm on sunny day. You'll know you are at the pass when you reach a large pile of rocks and a cairn someone has built on top. The trail splits and continues both north and south, but details for those are not found here yet. When you are satisfied with your progress, return the way you came. You'll find the views are better on the way down!

Kid Friendly: yes
Dog Friendly: yes

-This one has limited views as you climb and at the top (they are behind you so better on your descent), so your best bet may be to make this a longer trip and continue the climb a little ways. Though details for that are not available here yet. 

Happy Hiking!

Johnston Canyon & Ink Pots - Hike

An extremely popular hike to the lower and upper falls, and while the views may not disappoint, the volume of people may. If you hike this trail be prepared for single file almost the entire way to the falls. 

Johnston Canyon Upper Falls
Difficultyeasy - light
Round trip: 5 km
Hiking Time: 0.75 - 1.25 hours 
Elevation Gain: 143 m
FitBit: approx. 7,000 steps and 47 flights of stairs

Johnston Canyon Ink Pots *from the same starting point, these stats include those of the Upper Falls*
Round trip: 12 km 
Hiking Time: 3.5 - 4.5 hours
Elevation Gain: 530 m (cumulative)
FitBit: approx. 18,000 steps and 174 flights of stairs
LocationBanff National Park

Marked: Yes
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1 past Banff to hwy 1A/Bow Valley Pkwy. Exit west and follow it 17.5 km to the Johnston Canyon Hiking Area. There are two parking lots (one larger one where the washrooms are, and one smaller one for the resort) and if both are full, people will be parking on the road.

Click for directions in Google Maps

Your trailhead begins across the bridge from the large parking lot with the washrooms and then past the cafe. It is paved for quite a while and eventually when you enter the canyon will be a narrow walkway. There is lots to see as you walk and there are interpretive signs to read as well. It won't take long before you are arrive at the lower falls where you can enter a small cave to get up close to the waterfall.

Don't stop there, but continue to the upper falls now where the climb intensifies slightly. You'll reach a lookout that is actually at the bottom of the upper falls and so continue just a short ways farther to the upper falls look out. You'll know it when you see it. (i.e. if you are underwhelmed by the view, you're probably not there yet.) Look for this sign below which shows you only have 0.3 km to the upper falls lookout.

From there you can decide if you wish to continue. If you do, remember that your trip will double in length and quite a bit more so in elevation. Continue on the path upwards towards the Ink Pots, but when you are nearly there you actually start to lose elevation (which means you have to climb up on the way back). Before you know it you'll come out of the trees into a meadow surrounded by mountains. You'll see a sign with a quick overview of the Ink Pots and from there you can venture around the paths to see them.

Some might say it's not worth hiking that far for a meadow view, but it all depends on how you see your effort! If nothing else, enjoy the fact that you made it, take a lunch break near the river and then return the way you came. 

Kid Friendly: yes 
Dog Friendly: yes *but note this hike is so busy I would consider leaving Fido at home next time

-This hike is so extremely busy it may leave you wanting, because as you hike it's hard to enjoy the scenery with many people to navigate around. Thus choose your timing wisely, go early or late when the majority of crowds aren't around, or else try a weekday.
-For those with extreme phobias of heights, this may not be the hike for you. There are parts where the walkways are over top of the river at quite a height up.

Happy Hiking!

Big Hill Springs - Hike

A hike so close to the city, it's a hidden gem. Within a small provincial park, it's a hike you can do on a summer evening, pack a picnic and enjoy some nature!

Round trip: 2.3 km
Hiking Time: 20 min - 45 min
Elevation Gain: 20 m
FitBit: approx. 3,000 steps and 17 flights of stairs
Location: Big Hill Springs Provincial Park

Marked: No
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive north west on Hwy 1A through Bearspaw. At Hwy 766 (across from Rock Pointe Church) turn right (north).Then at Hwy 567 drive west a short ways to Range Road 34A where you'll turn south. Drive to the parking lot at the end of the road.

Map to Big Hill Springs, click for directions

The trailhead is not marked, but is very easy to find. Once you have parked in the small lot (which is a dead end from the road leading into the park) head to the trail which is west, across from the outhouses. Immediately there are four picnic tables and a small stream.

Follow the most boot beaten path around, stopping to admire the natural waterfalls and surrounding nature. There aren't any mountain views, but that doesn't mean it's not beautiful! Smaller paths shoot off from the main one, but all in all the loop shouldn't take more than an hour if you are taking it quite slow, 20 min if you cruise and don't stop. ]

At the end of your hike, if it's not too busy and there is a table available, enjoy a picnic lunch in the cool shade near the pond. :)

Kid Friendly: yes
Dog Friendly: yes

Happy Hiking!

Five Hikes to Do This Summer

Unsure which hike to try this weekend? Why not give one of these a go. These are some of my favorite hikes, in all levels of effort. Click on one for more details and maybe you'll find one just for you!

1) Grotto Canyon (easy) 
A popular hike, but for good reason. 
Instead of hiking up, you are hiking through the canyon with a variety of sites to see!

2) Fullerton Loop (light)
Some of the best hikes are loops so that you don't ever see the same thing twice!

3) West Wind Pass (light - moderate)
Nothing but views, views, views on this one!

4) Picklejar Lakes (moderate - strenuous) 
Is your favorite snack pickles? Then this one is for you! Joking, but it's still great!

5) Barrier Lake Lookout (strenuous) 
Likely a busy place, but not far from the city. 
There's a lake, there's mountains, it's all worth the climb!

Lake Agnes Tea House - Hike

A popular hike, that with some work leads to a great reward, a beautiful view of Lake Agnes as well as a pit stop at the tea house which is only accessible by hiking to it. 

Difficulty: moderate
Round trip: 7 km
Hiking Time: 2.5 - 3.5 hours 
Elevation Gain: 380 m
FitBit: approx. 11,700 steps and 124 flights of stairs
LocationLake Louise

Marked: Yes
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1 towards Lake Louise. Drive 162km and at Hwy 1A take the exit to go west. The road turns into Lake Louse Dr., continue on it until you reach the Lake Louise parking lot. If it is full, there is a shuttle parking lot down the highway.

Click for directions on Google Maps
Trail Map

Your trailhead begins at the north end of Lake Louise (as seen in the map above). It is marked by a sign near some garbage bins, but the sign is small. To keep it simple, walk along the path by the lake in front of the chateau, and when the trail splits, keep right. From there just follow the wide trail.

It will be busy on the trail as this is a popular spot (you'll get that indication by the parking lot), but it is beautiful nonetheless. Along the way there is a small lookout over Lake Louise. Another viewpoint spot is at Mirror Lake and that is very nice, but just short ways up now is the final detestation of the tea house and Lake Agnes. Enjoy the views and a cup of tea (cash only) if you so desire!

Kid Friendly: yes
Dog Friendly: yes

-The majority of the hike is in the trees, but it still is warm on a hot sunny day. It then can be cooler and windy at the top, so bring layers. 
-There was still snow in early June, so be prepared for that if you go in the earlier or later months.
-For the tea house website click here.

Happy Hiking!

Many Springs Trail - Hike

A quick and very beautiful interpretive trail. Enjoy an easy walking path and scenic views of the surrounding mountains.

Round trip: 2.5 km
Hiking Time: 30 min - 1.5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 21 m
FitBit: approx. 4,000 steps and 7 flights of stairs
LocationBow Valley Provincial Park

Marked: Yes
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1 towards Canmore. Take exit 114 onto Hwy 1X and take the first left into the Bow Valley Campground. You can stop at the Park Ranger Station for an area map if you wish, otherwise continue driving towards the Whitefish Day Use Area. You will see your trail on the left just prior to the parking lot of the picnic area.
Click for directions from Calgary
Click for larger map.

Your trailhead is marked by the trail sign. Begin your hike soon arriving at a hiker sign pointing you to the right. Enjoy the views around you of the pond and the mountains so near! If you desire take your time to read the interpretive signs along the way.

It's a short trail, but perhaps not one to rush through else it be a waste of time. Enjoy your walk and what it has to offer. Sometimes it's as simple as that :)

Kid Friendly: yes
Dog Friendly: yes

Happy Hiking!