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25 EASY Hikes in Canmore, Alberta (with seriously EPIC views!)

25 EASY Hikes in Canmore, Alberta (with seriously EPIC views!)

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Not all hikes have to be difficult to offer breathtaking views. In fact, there are some seriously epic hikes in Canmore, Alberta that are both easy and can be done in just a couple of hours! In fact, some of the best hikes in Canmore take only an hour or so to complete and are perfect for the entire family.  

We’ve been lucky enough to live in Canmore for short periods of time on a couple of different occasions. After spending so much time in Canmore and hiking as much as we could, we’ve compiled this detailed list of the best easy hikes in Canmore and the surrounding area. 

These hikes are some of the best things you can do in Canmore and in my opinion, it’s well worth checking a couple off your to-do list.

Knowing that sometimes people don’t want to drive far to reach a trailhead, I’ve divided this blog into two sections: easy hikes right in Canmore or less than a 5-minute drive away, and then easy hikes that are nearby in either the Kananaskis or Banff National Park. This way, you have a huge range of amazing easy hikes to choose from while you’re in Canmore!

Easy Hikes in Canmore, Alberta 

The following 25 hikes are my personal favorite easy hikes in Canmore that can all be done in under a day (most in only an hour or two!) They are all located in Canmore township or within a 5-10 minute drive. 

Note: A Kananaskis Conservation Pass is now required to explore the Kananaskis region. These passes can be bought at the Kananaskis Visitor Center or online in advance and cost $15 CAD per vehicle per day or $90 CAD per year (for two vehicles.)

1. Grotto Canyon 

A lady walsk through Grotto canyon in winter in Canmore
Grotto Canyon is so beautiful in winter!
  • Distance: 4.2 kilometers/2.6 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 220 meters (722 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1.5-2.5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back

Located only about 13 kilometers (8 miles) away from Canmore along Highway 1 A (on your way from Calgary to Canmore), Grotto Canyon is one of the most unique hikes in the Canmore area. At 4.2 kilometers long(2.6 miles), the Grotto Canyon hike is only moderately difficult and easy enough for most fitness levels. In fact, most people only take a couple of hours to complete it.  

Grotto Canyon can only be accessed on foot. While it’s gorgeous at any time of the year, it is especially popular in winter when most of the canyon’s floor is covered by ice and visitors have to use crampons. To access the Grotto Canyon Icewalk trail, find the Grotto Mountain parking lot and walk for one kilometer before you arrive at the creek that is going to twist and stretch for approximately one more kilometer. 

The trail to Grotto Canyon is pretty easy to follow and there are numerous signs along the trail to keep you on the right track.

After you pass the creek, the canyon walls are going to get narrow and, if you hike in winter, you will see a sheet of ice under your feet. After walking through the canyon, you will get to the junction from which you can access a pretty cool waterfall (since it freezes in winter, it attracts a lot of ice climbers) if you make a right turn.

Indigenous art work in Grotto Canyon, Canmore
It’s hard to see but wow it has been there a long time!

To your left, you will also spot the falls, and if you look closely, some ancient pictographs. Many hikers miss this spot, so if you have never been to Grotto Canyon and are not sure where to find them, ask someone on a trail or before you start your trip.

If you’re visiting Banff in the winter, you can also opt to purchase the Ice Grotto Canyon Icewalk Tour versus attempting it on your own. This tour includes all equipment and a guide who is knowledgeable about the canyon’s history and geology. A light snack and steaming hot chocolate will be waiting for you to enjoy at the end! This tour lasts 4 hours and costs $101 CAD.

If you’re visiting from Canmore, you can still hike Grotto Canyon in the snow without a tour, just be prepared with warm gear and crampons or snowshoes.

I enjoyed this canyon in March and April when it was still covered by the thick layer of snow and ice.

To me, Grotto Canyon is most impressive during the winter months when the canyon is frozen. I honestly wouldn’t bother with this trail during the summer and would instead recommend another easy Canmore trail such as Stewart Canyon or Johnston Canyon (more info on both further down on this blog.)

Related Read: Hiking Grotto Canyon is one of the best things to do in Canmore in the month of December – read our blog for more info on seasonal and festival events during this popular time to visit Canmore!

2. Quarry Lake Loop 

Quarry Lake Loop
Quarry Lake Loop
  • Distance: 1.1 kilometers/0.7 miles 
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: Less than an hour
  • Type of Trail: Loop

Quarry Lake Loop is a super popular hike in Canmore among locals. With an off-leash dog park, picnic area, and places to swim it’s no wonder people love this gorgeous spot.

Quarry Lake Loop trail itself is more of a walk rather than a hike and the most challenging part about visiting Quarry Lake is finding parking. At only just over a kilometer long and with no elevation gain, this easy trail takes you from the car parking lot around Quarry Lake and back again.

Most people visit Quarry Lake to spend an afternoon as opposed to just walking the trail which is really quick. Bring a picnic and a towel and enjoy the area! The lake also offers stunning mountain reflections on calm days making for excellent photo opportunities.

reflections on Quarry Lake in Canmore
This loop is small but beautiful!

As I mentioned, the hardest part about hiking Quarry Lake Loop is finding parking. During hot summer days, the parking lot frequently fills up leaving. My best advice is to visit first thing in the afternoon or later in the day for sunset. This is when you are most likely able to snag a parking spot!

Quarry Lake Loop is also a hike you can do all year round. Just be warned that in the winter months, the lake looks frozen, but it isn’t! Never attempt to walk on Quarry Lake since it never fully freezes. Ice cleats will come in handy during the winter months too when there is ice on the trail.

You can find the Quarry Lake Loop trailhead location on Google Maps and it’s located right in Canmore!

3. Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway

Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway
Rundle Forest Reservoir Walkway
  • Distance: 4.6 kilometers/2.9 miles return 
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Just across the road from the Canmore Nordic Center is Rundle Forest Reservoir. This is a common spot to go kayaking or standup paddleboarding. In the summer months, it’s not uncommon to see groups of people lounging at the water’s edge. But, what many people don’t know is that there is actually a beautiful walking trail here.

From the parking lot, head towards the reservoir and turn left. You’ll see a walking trail that follows the water’s edge. The walking trail goes for just over two kilometers and ends at Smith Dorrien Spray Trail Road.

One of the things I like most about this trail is that it is never busy. Since it is such a flat trail, I often visit at sunset with a cup of tea in my to-go cup. I can enjoy the calm water, mountain views, and an easy walking trail without another soul in sight!

4. Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk 

The Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk in Canmore
The Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk in Canmore
  • Distance: 3.9 kilometers/2.4 miles one-way 
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-3 hours depending on how far you go
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

When it comes to easy hikes in Canmore, Policeman’s Creek takes the cake! First of all, this hike literally runs through the middle of Canmore town so you can likely jump onto it right from your hotel.

Second, it is a boardwalk which means no elevation gain, rocks, or mud – just a nice man-made boardwalk. It honestly can’t get easier than this!

Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk runs along the edge of Policeman’s Creek smack dab through the middle of Canmore. The entire boardwalk stretches 3.9 kilometers (2.4 miles) from one end to the other, but most people don’t walk the entire thing.

You can simply access the boardwalk from many intersections and streets in Canmore and go for a wander. To me, it’s a good place to go for a leisurely stroll. Walk as far as you feel and then turn back around. Expect to see mountain views, lots of ducks, and maybe even kayakers on the creek.

5. Three Sisters Viewpoint 

The Milky-way above the Three Sisters taken from Policeman's Creek in Canmore!
This viewpoint is picture-perfect!
  • Distance: Less than 1 kilometer/0.6 miles
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 30 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

This hike isn’t an official trail in Canmore but I think it should be! This trail has become popular among photographers who visit the area to take pictures of the Three Sisters mountain range.

Dan and I spent an evening here photographing the amazing reelection in the creek and then the milky way as it got dark. The only other people around were, you guessed it, photographers! We love this spot so much we actually include it in our list of the most Instagrammable places in and around Banff.

But I don’t think you need to be a photographer to enjoy this easy trail and incredible viewpoint.

Since this isn’t an official trail, you won’t find signs or maps. However, it is really easy to find yourself if you follow my directions. Park at the off-leash dog park just on the edge of Canmore. From here, cross the road and go under the train bridge. Follow the creek (keeping to your right) and you’ll find a well-trafficked trail into the forest. Hike here for about 5 minutes until you come to a creek.

You’ll know you’re in the right place when you have an incredible view of the Three Sisters in front of the creek. It’s a beautiful spot and one of the few hikes in Canmore that not many people know about.

6. Heart Creek Trail  

Heart Creek Trail
Heart Creek Trail
  • Distance: 2.6 kilometers/1.6 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 100 meters (328 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Heart Creek Trail is a fairly easy hiking trail located about 10 minutes outside of Canmore at Lac de Arcs exit from Highway 1. This trail takes you through the forest and along the edges of Heart Creek and through Heart Canyon.

Heart Creek Trail is very popular with rock climbers as there are a couple of walls perfect for the sport. However, if you are just looking nice and quiet trail this is a good option too.

To find the trailhead you need to exit Canmore on Highway 1 towards Exshaw. Take the Lac de Arcs exit and immediately go right toward the marked parking lot. From here, take the trail and once you get to the fork in the trail, go right.

If you want more of a challenge then you can go left. This takes you to an entirely different trail called Heart Mountain Horseshoe Loop. I personally love this hike but it is a difficult one that I wouldn’t recommend for beginners. If you want more information on it, you can read our blog about hiking Heart Mountain.

7. Benchlands Ridge Trail and Hoodoos

Benchlands Ridge Trail and Hoodoos
Benchlands Ridge Trail and Hoodoos
  • Distance: 4 kilometers/2.5 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 200 meters (656 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of Trail: Loop trail

Benchlands Ridge Trail is an easy hike right in Canmore with a gradual incline up to a viewpoint overlooking the valley. It technically starts from downtown Canmore and takes you over a bridge to cross the highway. Follow the path along Benchlands Trail and when there is a sharp left, take it. You’ll start to climb up a path until you are on a ridge overlooking Canmore – it’s beautiful!

If you want to skip walking across the highway, you can park at either Cougar Creek or the Benchlands Trail Bike Park.

Hoodoos with Three Sisters Mountain Range in the background
The Hoodoos are just as much about the views!

The trail is 4 kilometers long (2.5 miles) in total. At the top of the ridge, there is a couple of hoodoos that are pretty neat to check out too! From the hoodoos, you just head downhill until you pass a cemetery and get back onto the trail. Otherwise, just walk back the same way you came.

Although it isn’t my favorite trail in Canmore, it is a good option for those looking to stay close to town and wanting to see hoodoos too!

Hot Tip: Want an even shorter hike? Drive up to Benchlands Terrace and park at the end of the residential street there. From here you’ll see the trail and hoodoos. The view is awesome and really no hiking is required!

8. Grassi Lakes 

Viewpoint of Grassi Lakes
View of one of the Grassi Lakes.
  • Distance: 4-kilometer/2.5-mile loop or return
  • Elevation gain: 125 meters (410 ft)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 2 to 3 hours

Grassi Lakes is without a doubt the most popular hike in Canmore, in fact, I also consider it one of the best things to do in Alberta! After hiking the trail twice for myself, it’s not hard to see why. This short trail is easy to accomplish and ends at the stunning Grassi Lakes.  

Grassi Lakes is also one of the easiest hikes in Canmore at only 4 kilometers long (2.5 miles) return trail with only a 125-meter elevation gain (410 ft). This means it’s family-friendly and suitable for most fitness levels. When we last hiked the Grassi Lakes trail, there were tons of families on the trail with young kids and dogs. 

Grassi Lakes Trail starts from a large car parking lot just on the outskirts of Canmore. The exact location can be found on Google Maps, but it is also easy to find if you drive Smith Dorrien Spray Trail Road up past the Canmore Nordic Center and turn left onto Ken Richie Way. It’s important to arrive early to secure a parking spot! 

Lawrence Grassi Waterfall on the grassi Lakes Trail
The waterfall along Grassi Lake Trail!

One thing to note is that there are two different trails you can take to reach Grassi Lakes. From the Grassi Lakes parking lot, there is one trail. After walking this trail for a couple of minutes you’ll come to a fork in the trail with a sign. If you stay to the right you’ll take the easier trail, to the left is the “more difficult” trail.

The more difficult trail is flat at the beginning but then takes a steep incline with stairs taking you next to a waterfall. While it is a more challenging trail, it’s worth it for the waterfall! 

During the winter months, the more difficult trail closes due to ice build-up. But you can still hike to Grassi Lakes via the other trail, and doing so is one of the best winter activities in Canmore!

For more detailed info, check out our blog all about hiking Grassi Lakes Trail

9. Bow River Loop Trail

Bow River Loop Trail
Bow River Loop Trail
  • Distance: 2 kilometers/1.24 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 50 meters (164 ft)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 30 minutes to an hour
  • Type of Trail: Loop

Bow River Loop Trail is definitely one of the easiest hikes in Canmore. Not only does it start right in downtown Canmore, but it is pretty much completely flat and offers stunning views in every direction.

One of the highlights of the Bow Valley Trail is crossing the steel bridges over the Bow River. From here, the views of the Three Sisters is picture-perfect.

More views on the Bow River Loop

This short 2-kilometer long (1.24 miles) loop track only gains about 50 meters (164 ft) in elevation, so it’s actually super easy and family-friendly. In the winter, some parts of the trail can be a little icy, but if you’re careful you should be just fine!

There are plenty of benches lined along the river’s edge on the trail. They make for the perfect place to stop for a packed lunch or just relax and enjoy the view. When we lived in Canmore I would often come here to just read my book for a couple of hours in the sunshine.

10. Horseshoe Loop

Horseshoe Loop, Canmore
The perfect trail in any season!
  • Distance: 5 kilometers/3.1 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 150 meters (492 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Type of Trail: Loop

Starting at the Cougar Creek Parking lot you’ll walk along the creek until you see a sign for Horseshoe Loop, here you’ll go right and up into the forest.

Horseshoe Loop Trail is a multi-use trail meaning you’ll often see bikers and sometimes even horses here. The popularity of the area has created lots of smaller trails which some may find confusing. If you stick to the larger more clear path (which is what we did) then you should be just fine.

You’ll also come across signs along the way to help keep you on the right path.

Map of the Horseshoe Loop Trail
There are a few trails in the area but its hard to get lost!

Other than a bit of an incline at the beginning, this trail is mainly flat. It’s also through the forest, and as such, there aren’t many opportunities for viewpoints. It’s a trail for those who want to wander through the forest on a peaceful, less busy trail than some of the other easy hikes in Canmore.

If you don’t want to walk the entire 5-kilometer loop (3.1 miles), there are opportunities to cut it short by walking down toward the houses and taking the residential streets back to the creek. These will be smaller trails off the main trail, but it is easy enough to navigate.

11. Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail

A sign on the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail
  • Distance: 20 kilometers/12.4 miles one-way (but don’t walk the whole thing!)
  • Elevation gain: 185 meters/607 ft (super gradual and feels flat)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: As much as you want!
  • Type of Trail: Point to point

The Legacy Trail is best known by cyclists who ride this flat paved trail between Canmore and Banff. At just over 20 kilometers long (12.4 miles), this trail actually connects Canmore and Banff, and thus, is a popular route for cyclists.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy parts of this trail on foot though. The wide track is paved and makes for an easy hike that starts right in the heart of Canmore. It’s perfect for those with a stroller!

The Legacy Trail in Canmore starts near the highway just past the Canmore Gold Club. It is well signed and you honestly can’t miss this 3-meter wide path. You can hike for as long as you feel before turning around and heading back to Canmore the same way.

A couple of things to note about the Legacy Trail is that it can be pretty busy on the weekends in the summer months. As somebody walking you should be aware of lots of cyclists. For a quieter experience, go mid-week.

There is also limited shade on the trail. Be sure to wear a hat and sunscreen – especially if you’re hiking with any little ones!

12. Montane Traverse

A hole at Canmore Golf Club from the Montane Traverse hile
A view of the golf course from the Montane Traverse hike.
  • Distance: 7 kilometers/4.35 miles for the complete loop (you don’t have to walk the whole thing)
  • Elevation gain: About 150 meters give or take (492 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 2-4 hours
  • Type of Trail: Loop

Montane Traverse is one of the lesser-known hikes in Canmore. It is a very easy hike that starts with a slight incline through the forest. Eventually, you’ll end up next to the Silvertip golf course with beautiful views over the grass with mountains in the distance.

As you reach the end, you’ll start walking back to your starting point along the road. If you don’t want to walk next to the road, you can just go back the way you came instead of completing the entire loop.

The trail begins at Cougar Creek and you’ll see signs for the trail as you walk to the top of the creek. Park at the Cougar Creek parking lot (just off Benchlands Trail). The trail is well marked at the beginning, but not so much at the end. For this reason, many people end up turning around after they lose confidence in their directions. For us, this was part of the fun and we enjoyed exploring this off-the-beaten-path hike in Canmore.

This hike is also accessible in the winter, however, you might need some snowshoes.

13. Ha Ling Peak

At the saddle of Ha Ling Peak
Standing at the saddle of Ha Ling Peak!
  • Distance: 3.9 kilometers/2.4 miles one-way to the summit, 7.8 kilometers/4.8 miles total return 
  • Elevation gain: 810 meters (2657 feet)
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Time needed: 3-5 hours 
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Just a little further down Smith Dorrien Spray Trail from Grassi Lakes is the Ha Ling Peak trailhead and car parking lot. Although significantly more difficult than Grassi Lakes, Ha Ling Peak offers views of Canmore that are unrivaled and I just had to include it on this list of day hikes in Canmore!

Ha Ling Peak is a moderately difficult hike because it is steep. The trail is well maintained and not technical (there are even built-in staircases is some steep sections) but the elevation gain of over 800 meters (2624 feet) makes it a challenge. Bring plenty of water and hiking poles, and be ready for a serious workout!

Ha Ling Peak Trail starts off with a series of switchbacks through the forest before breaking the treeline. Here, there are two large sets of stairs to help you reach the saddle. For many, this is as far as they go as the views are already amazing.

Looking down on the trail from ha Ling Peak Hike during cold weather
Climbing to the summit of Ha Ling Peak,

But if you came to summit a mountain peak, then keep going to your left to reach the top of Ha Ling Peak. This last portion of the trail is a little more difficult and you’ll need to watch your footing. Don’t attempt it in windy conditions or in snow.

I promise you that on a clear day, the views from the top of Ha Ling Peak are totally worth the effort to get there!

14. Miners Peak

The view from miners Peak looking over at Ha Ling Peak
The view from Miners Peak looking over at Ha Ling Peak
  • Distance: 3.1 kilometers/1.9 miles one-way to the summit, 7.2 kilometers/4.5 miles total return 
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 700 meters (2297 ft)
  • Difficulty: Moderate 
  • Time needed: 3-5 hours 
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

An alternative hike to Ha Ling Peak that’s slightly easier, is Miners Peak. This hiking trail starts from the same car parking lot as Ha Ling Peak. In fact, the majority of the trail is actually the same as Ha Ling Peak.

Once you reach the saddle along Ha Ling Peak Trail you can turn left to head up to the more difficult Ha Ling Peak, or choose to go right and summit Miners Peak instead.

Miners Peak is easier to reach than Ha Ling Peak with a more established trail and less elevation gain. If you reach the Ha Ling Trail saddle and are already very tired, Miners Peak could be the better option for you.

The view from Miners Peak is incredible! You’ll see both Canmore town below you in the distance and Ha Ling Peak too.

Easy Day Hikes near Canmore, Alberta  

A panoramic photo of Lake Agnes with The Devils Thumb Mountain summit in the background
Lake Agnes!

If you’re up for a little adventure and scenic drive, then you can leave Canmore and check out many other beautiful and easy hiking trails! Although the list of hikes near Canmore is practically endless, I’ve narrowed it down to my absolute favorite hikes below which are also fairly easy.

15. Troll Falls

Troll Falls near Canmore, Alberta
In winter the waterfall is frozen and wow its spectacular!
  • Distance: 3.4 kilometers/2.1 miles return
  • Elevation gain: About 100 meters (328 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Located right near Nakiska Ski Area in the Kananaskis, this easy hike is only about a 35-minute drive from Canmore. Troll Falls is definitely one of the most popular hikes in the Kananaskis area known for its well-maintained path, beautiful forest, and of course, the waterfall at the end.

Troll Falls hike trailhead is marked on Google Maps and is simple to find. There is a decent amount of parking here, but from time to time it does get full. Don’t worry though, they usually have an overflow parking lot setup too not far away – just follow the signs.

This hike is one of the best for families in the area. No, you won’t see Trolls (although Troll dolls have been known to appear along the trail and up near the waterfalls from time to time), but you will enjoy a beautiful walk through the forest that ends at a waterfall.

A lady poses for a photo with Troll Falls
Yep she’s frozen!

To me, Troll Falls is one of the best hikes to do during winter in Kananaskis because it is totally accessible and the waterfall freezes making it look like a winter wonderland.

In the summer months, you can climb up to another viewpoint above the waterfall. Just follow the signs and stairs. This is a bit of an incline though so do be prepared.

The trail to the bottom of the falls is so easy that you could do it with the appropriate hiking stroller.

16. Banff Hoodoos Viewpoint

A lady poses for a photo at the Banff Hoodoos
Can you spot the hoodoos?
  • Distance: Less than 1 km/0.6 mi
  • Elevation gain: 0
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 20 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Let’s face it, if you’re already in Canmore then you’ll probably venture to Canmore’s tourist neighboring town of Banff at some stage. While you’re there, you might as well do the quick 20-minute walk to the Banff Hoodoos Viewpoint!

From Canmore, it’ll take you just over 20 minutes to drive to the Banff Hoodoos Viewpoint trailhead (use that link to be sure you go to the right place since there are a few marked on Google Maps.) Here, is a large parking lot. It is located up on Tunnel Mountain just near the campground.

It’s important that you don’t mistake this hike for the Banff Hoodoos Trail which actually starts in Banff town and hikes all the way up to where I’m telling you to drive to. This trail is significantly longer at about 10 kilometers return (6.21 mi) with about a 100-meter (328 feet) elevation gain.

Once you arrive at the Banff Hoodoos Viewpoint you’ll see a large trail with views looking out over the Bow Valley. There are multiple viewing platforms and walking to the end platform will only take you about 10 minutes.

From the trail, you’ll see the Banff Hoodoos (more impressive than the Canmore Hoodoos if you ask me) and even spot the Fairmont Hotel in the distance. The information boards on the trail explain how the hoodoos were formed. This is a super interesting activity and one of the top free things to do in Banff if you ask me.

Note: To visit Banff National Park, you’re going to need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass. You can find more info towards the end of this post.

17. Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon in Banff
Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
  • Distance: 2.4 kilometers/1.5 miles or 5 kilometers/3.1 miles return (depending on which falls you turn around at)
  • Elevation gain: 50 meters or 100 meters (164 feet or 328 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-3 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back 

Johnston Canyon is one of the best hikes in Banff National Park and it is located only about a 40-minute drive from Canmore town. This epic hike takes visitors through a gorgeous canyon displaying unique rock formations, waterfalls, and bright blue water!

You have two options when it comes to hiking Johnston Canyon. You can either hike just to the Lower Falls and then turn around or continue to the Upper Falls. The hike to the Upper Falls adds an extra 2.5 kilometers (1.5 miles) to your hike. How far you go will depend on how much time you have to spare as both trails are fairly flat and easy.

One of the best things about Johnston Canyon is that it is accessible all year round. In the summer expect rushing water and beautiful waterfalls.

In the winter, expect a frozen winter wonderland. I’d recommend doing this guided ice walk here too which includes round-trip transportation from Banff as well as all needed equipment (ice cleats and hiking poles). Once you finish you’ll be presented with a snack and hot chocolate to help you warm up. For $101 CAD I find it well-priced for what you are getting.

Not only is Johnston Canyon one of the best hikes in Canmore, but it’s also one of the best things to do in Banff National Park and a must-do activity for anyone in the area.

Note: There will be some closures to vehicle traffic on sections of the Bow Valley Parkway this year (2023). From May 1-June 30 and then again from Sept 1-Sept 30 vehicles will NOT be able to drive the 17 km/11 mi stretch of road from the TransCanada-Highway junction to Johnston Canyon, it will be restricted to cyclists’ use only. This is the eastern part of the road that is affected if you’re traveling to Johnston Canyon from Banff. You will still be able to access Johnston Canyon and the Bow Valley Parkway via the intersection near Castle Mountain Chalets.

18. Lake Agnes Tea House 

Sitting back and watching time go by at Lake Agnes
The beautiful Lake Agnes!
  • Distance: 3.6 kilometers/2.2 miles one way, 7.2 kilometers/4.5 miles return
  • Elevation gain: 400 meters (1312 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Time needed: 4 to 5 hours

Lake Agnes is absolutely stunning and the hike to get there is definitely worth the extra effort. Sure, this trail isn’t super flat, but it is not technical and is well-maintained. Anybody with a moderate fitness level can complete Lake Agnes Tea House Trail even if they have no hiking experience.

In fact, the last time we hiked to Lake Agnes we saw lots of families with children on the trail.

Lake Agnes Tea House Trail begins with a steady incline through the forest. Eventually, you’ll reach The Beehive which makes for a nice little stop. Shortly after, you’ll come to a waterfall and then Lake Agnes and the tea house.

The tea house actually serves tea, coffee, snacks, and other goods you’d expect at a cafe. Grab a table and enjoy the view with a cup of tea (brewed with glacier lake water of course!)

Lake Agness Trail is known for being very busy. If you don’t want a crowded trail or wait in a huge line at the teahouse, leave early in the morning. This way, it’ll be easy to get a parking space where the trail starts from Lake Louise Lakefront.

Note: From May 13th until October 10th, you’ll be required to pay $21 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 7 am until 7 pm daily.  

Related Read: If you want a guide, this is also a hike you can do on one of the best tours from Canmore!

19. Ptarmigan Cirque 

Ptarmigan Cirque
  • Distance: 4.2 kilometers/2.6 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 220 meters (722 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Time needed: 1.5-2.5 hours
  • Type of Trail: Loop

I haven’t had a chance to personally hike Ptarmigan Cirque yet, but I’ve heard great things! Pete from Road Trip Alberta has hiked the trail a few times though, and so he contributed the information below for us.

My wife and I first hiked the Ptarmigan Cirque in Kananaskis this last summer and quickly recommended it to many friends. While it’s a relatively short trek – only 4.2 km (2.6 miles)- it begins at a high elevation (2300 m/7546 ft) and starts off with a moderately steep incline. But once we cleared the treeline and caught our breath, we were wowed by the variety of mountain views and were instantly glad we made the effort. 

After the initial climb, the path flattened out and we quickly found ourselves in an alpine meadow surrounded by a wall of mountains. The path leads through rocky terrain and up to a waterfall before looping back to the other side and returning to the tree line.

The reason we (and many others) love the Ptarmigan Cirque is because of the variety of views it provides in such a short distance, and also because it’s a hike that can be enjoyed during all seasons. In spring, the full bloom of mountain flowers offers a beautiful colorful palate. And in fall, the yellow larches will be on a stunning display. Winter typically comes early in the region due to the high elevation, so be prepared with snow gear and warm clothes.

The hike isn’t accessible from December thru May as the road through the Highwood Pass is closed. If you do plan on hiking the Ptarmigan Cirque plan to do it on a weekday to avoid the large crowds, and it’s always recommended to arrive early as the parking lot fills up fast.

From Canmore, you can reach the Ptarmigan Cirque trailhead in about an hour’s drive. The drive itself is very scenic and makes for a fun little day trip!

20. Moraine Lake Rockpile 

Reflective views at Lake Moraine near Banff at sunrise
Views of Moraine Lake from the Rockpile.
  • Distance: 0.8 kilometers/0.5 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Approximately 40 meters (131 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 30 minutes
  • Type of Trail: Loop

Just over an hour’s drive from Canmore is the famous Moraine Lake. This lake is nothing short of stunning and one place you should absolutely visit when you’re in this part of the Canadian Rockies.

My personal favorite viewpoint at Moraine Lake is the one at the Rockpile. It is a very short trail that takes you through a series of stairs to the top of, you guessed it, a rock pile! From here, you’ll get the most epic view of Moraine Lake and Ten Peaks as her backdrop. It’s absolutely stunning and a must-do for anyone visiting the Lake Louise area.

Although this is a very easy hike, the challenge is getting here since the access road is closed to personal vehicles, so you’ll need to look into parking alternatives at Moraine Lake. Our top tip is to try booking a shuttle to Moraine Lake in advance.

Note: Moraine Lake is only accessible from the end of May until mid-September depending on the weather. It closes during the colder months due to avalanche risk. For all the info, read our complete guide about how to get to Moraine Lake!

Want to visit Moraine Lake for sunrise?

The only way to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise this year (since the road is closed to personal vehicles) is to either go on this organized tour or book this privately-operated shuttle (the Parks Canada shuttles don’t leave early enough to make it for sunrise.)

The tour begins at 4 am in Banff, and because they are a licensed tour operator, they can access Moraine Lake for sunrise. The tour costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancelation up to 24 hours before.

The new Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle includes transport only from Lake Louise Village but comes at an affordable price of $59-69 CAD per person. They offer a few pick-up times depending on what you have planned at Moraine Lake, with the first shuttle leaving at 4 am and the second at 5 am. You must book your spot online in advance here to avoid missing out.

21. Larch Valley Trail 

A lady in all her hiking gear on the Larch Valley Trail
The Larch Valley!
  • Distance: 8.6 kilometers/5.3 miles return
  • Elevation gain: 535 meters (1814 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Time needed: 5 – 6 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out and back

The Larch Valley Trail also starts from Moraine Lake and is well worth the drive from Canmore. It is much longer than the Rockpile hike but also worth the extra effort. If you take your time in the beginning when it is steepest, you’ll find the Larch Valley Trail to be fairly easy as well!

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Banff National Park in autumn then the Larch Valley is a must-do. During this time of year, the leaves all change color making it that much more beautiful.

The first part of the Larch Valley Trail is a bunch of switchbacks as you climb through the forest. Although tiring, the trail is well-maintained and not technical by any means. Once you make it to the valley, the track flattens out mostly until Minnestimma Lakes. From here, you can continue on and climb up to Sentinel Pass, but that is much more difficult and technical.

The Larch Valley is one of my absolute favorite hikes in Canada, and definitely one of the best hikes near Canmore. Check it out for yourself and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

22. Consolation Lakes 

A lady stands on a rock at Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park
Checking out the first lake on Consolation Lakes Trail.
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometers/3.6 miles return
  • Elevation gain: 65 meters (213 feet)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back

Last but certainly not least is another trail that starts from Moraine Lake about an hour from Canmore. Consolation Lakes Trail is probably the least popular trail in the area which is surprising to me because it’s beautiful!

This relatively flat trail takes you from the Rockpile through the forest to two beautiful lakes around Banff. Because the trail is not very popular, it is much less crowded than the other trails in the area making for a peaceful hike.

Although the trail is easy, at the end you will have to scramble over some rocks to actually make it to the lake’s edge. This part is a little more challenging but can be skipped as long as you’re satisfied not going all the way to the second lake.

Related Read: If you’re visiting the area for only a couple of days, check out our 3-days in Banff blog for a complete itinerary!

23. Stewart Canyon

A lady poses for a photo at Stewart Canyon
Can you spot me!?
  • Distance: 3 kilometers/1.9 miles return
  • Elevation gain: Very minimal
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back

This is honestly one of my favorite easy hikes in the Canmore and Banff area.

First of all, Stewart Canyon Trail starts at the stunning Lake Minnewanka. If you’ve never been to Lake Minnewanka before then take my pro tip – go now! In the summer, you can go on a cruise on Lake Minnewanka and in the winter you can ice skate.

From Canmore, it’ll take you about 30 minutes to drive to Lake Minnewanka.

The hike to Stewart Canyon starts right at the parking lot at Lake Minnewanka and follows the lake’s edge until you reach a beautiful wooden bridge. The views from the bridge are stunning and you’ll stare down into Stewart Canyon.

Technically, the bridge is the point where you should turn around and walk back – this makes the trail 3 kilometers long (1.9 miles) in total. However, if you want to keep going, you can! The trail continues across the bridge and alongside the canyon. I’ve walked it before and it is peaceful, but if I’m being honest the best views are before the bridge anyways.

This is a super easy trail with incredible views. Keep an eye out for wildlife too, I’ve seen countless deer on this trail and also foxes!

24. Lake Louise Lakefront Trail

Views looking back from the Lake Louise Shoreline Trail
Views from the Lakefront trail are pretty nice!
  • Distance: 4 kilometers/2.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back

Lake Louise is such a beautiful place to visit. Located about an hour away, the road trip from Canmore to Lake Louise will blow you away with the views along the drive and simply from the lake’s edge. But don’t stop here, head out on the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail and hike to the far end of the lake. From here, you can look back and enjoy a view of Lake Louise that many don’t get to see.

The Lakefront Trail is super easy and flat! From the foreshore, it’s a 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) out-and-back hike and takes around an hour to complete. As I said, it’s flat and super easy!

The Lake Louise Lakefront Trail is actually the start of the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House hike, so if you’re planning on doing that trail you’ll get to do both.

Hot Tip: If you’re visiting Lake Louise in winter, you can actually just walk across the frozen lake to this viewpoint, cutting a little distance off the hike. Just be sure to check the ice conditions before you go!

25. Blackshale Suspension Bridge

Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge
Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge!
  • Distance: About 4 kilometers/2.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is a unique hike near Canmore for the simple fact that it is the only one with such an impressive suspension bridge to explore at the end! Kids love this bridge, and anybody will enjoy the views from the easy trail.

There is a bit of confusion surrounding this hike, as many complete it as part of the long Black Prince Loop. This is much longer and not the easiest way to get to the bridge. Instead, park at the Black Prince Trail day-use parking, then walk back up the road towards the highway, cross the highway, and get on the trail labeled as “High Rockies.”

From here, follow the trail, but keep right when you get to the fork. There are some signs but it is not totally obvious.

Alberta Parks has marked this trail as 1.4 km (2.5 mi) one way, but it is definitely longer, at least 2 km (1.24 mi) or even a little longer. With that said, the trail is relatively flat and easy enough. When we did it, plenty of families with young children were also on the trail.

Eventually, you will reach the huge suspension bridge. This bridge is really impressive and well worth the hike. From here, I recommend walking back the way you came. There is an alternative route but most people get lost and end up walking along the highway.

You can reach this unique trail by taking the Smith Dorrien Trail out of Canmore towards the Black Prince Day Use Area. This drive should take about an hour. Keep in mind that this trail is closed in the wintertime to prevent an overload of weight on the bridge from snow along with pedestrians and it can also be dangerously slick when there is ice.

Other Things to do While You’re in Canmore

A lady ice skates on Vermilion Lakes, Banff
Ice skating on Vermilion Lakes

If you’re still putting together your Canmore itinerary here are some of my personal favorite activities across all seasons that I would recommend to anyone!

  • Explore the Canmore Caves – one of the best and most popular adventure tours on the outskirts of Canmore is this Canmore Caving adventure tour. You’ll rappel down into the Rat’s Nest Cave system and explore underground through narrow spaces before reaching a clear pool of water with impressive stalactites and stalagmites. This tour lasts 6 hours, costs $199 CAD, and includes all climbing gear and your own guide so you don’t get lost.
  • Go ice skating on a frozen lake – if visiting Canmore in the winter one of the most epic and non-touristy experiences to have is to go skating on one of the area’s frozen lakes (usually frozen solid by mid-December). A few of my favorites are Gap Lake, Lake Louise, and Vermilion Lakes. If you don’t have your own skates you can easily rent a pair from Gear Up in town.
  • Whitewater Rafting – an iconic Canadian activity that is sure to provide lots of scenic views, thrills, and laughs! After a safety briefing, this whitewater rafting tour will have you splashing through rapids for around 2 hours. It costs $130 CAD and is available in the summer from mid-May until mid-September.
  • Wildlife Safari – Canmore is home to an abundance of wildlife, including black bears, grizzlies, moose, bighorn sheep, foxes, cougars, elk, coyotes, lynx, mountain goats, wolves, and more. Spotting wildlife on your own is often a coinflip so I recommend going on a wildlife tour with an expert who knows where and what to look for along with how to do so in a safe manner. This private half-day wildlife safari tour is a fantastic option that spends 2 hours on a drive through the Rocky Mountains and a 1.5-hour nature walk to track wildlife. It is pricey at $325 per person but it’s worth it if you’ve been dying to see the native animals!
  • Hike to Grassi Lakethis hike to a naturally emerald-colored lake is one of Canmore’s main attractions. The color is so bright it’s hard to believe it’s real! This 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) long trail only gains 125 meters (410 ft) in elevation and takes most people about 2 hours to complete. It’s totally doable for most ages and experience levels so you really have no reason to miss out on the incredible views of Grassi Lake! Just get here early before the parking fills up.

Where to Stay in Canmore

Bailey lays on the bed in Coast Canmore Hotel
The rooms at Coast Canmore are gorgeous!
Bailey with her dog in a hotel in Canmore
Be sure to choose a pet-friendly hotel if you’re traveling with a furry friend!

The truth is that there are so many hotels in Canmore that it can be hard to know which one to choose for your stay. Well luckily for you, Dan and I have stayed in a lot of different hotels in Canmore and have been able to narrow it down to our absolute favorites!

Here are the best places to stay in Canmore including our personal top choice, a budget option, and one for those looking for absolute luxury!

Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre – Our Top Choice

the garden at Coast Canmore Hotel
The views from the Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre

Coast Canmore Hotel & Conference Centre is our absolute favorite place to stay in Canmore. It is affordable without sacrificing any of the comforts you’ll need for a relaxing and enjoyable stay – suitable for almost all travelers and budgets. They have an onsite pool, hot tub, and fitness center along with a delicious bar and restaurant (Table Food + Drink.)

Coast Canmore Hotel is located right in the heart of downtown Canmore walking distance from 8 Street (Main Street in Canmore), and just across the road from the Canmore Shops where you have a selection of restaurants, cafes, and takeaway places.

Oh, and did I mention the views from the hotel windows are breathtaking!

On top of all of that, Coast Canmore Hotel offers a variety of different rooms to choose from, including some that are even pet-friendly (super handy when we are traveling with Rex!) The average cost per night ranges between $200-$300 CAD.

You can book this hotel easily on Be sure to book as far in advance as possible because these guys are usually fully booked!

Canmore Downtown Hostel – Budget Backpackers Option

If you’re a budget backpacker and looking for a hostel then Canmore Downtown Hostel is your best choice! These guys offer clean and comfortable facilities, dorm beds as well as private rooms, and a social atmosphere perfect for meeting other backpackers yet reviewers mention it is quiet at nighttime. The shared lounge room even has incredible mountain views! A dorm bed in a co-ed room averages around $47 CAD.

You can book Canmore Downtown Hostel on or

Copperstone Resort – Luxury Escape

If money isn’t an issue, then Copperstone Resort may be the luxurious option you’re looking for. It is located a 10-minute drive outside of Canmore which makes for a peaceful escape from the town. There is an outdoor hot tub and many of the rooms are full suites with kitchens and multiple bedrooms. However, rooms here don’t come cheap and are often up to twice the price of most hotels in Canmore, around $275 CAD. Note: A 2-night minimum is required.

You can check the prices and book Copperstone Resort on

If you want more options you can look through all hotels in Canmore here!

Related Read: If you’re driving to Canmore, make sure to check out our road trip guides to drive from Edmonton to Canmore and Calgary to Canmore!

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass”Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is memorizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Related Read: Heading to Banff in the fall? Check out our blog about all of the fun things to do in Banff in September.

Canada Travel Essentials

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
A windproof jacket and Buff will save you in the mountains!

Before you decide to head off and explore the gorgeous mountains, lakes, towns, and cities around Canada it’s important to have the right equipment. Of course, it’s likely you’ll have most of the basics already but there are some common items people forget that I never travel without.

Crampons: In winter, crampons are super handy, but what people don’t realize is that they come in handy in summer too. In fact, up until mid-July, you can still expect icy conditions in the mountains. The pair I use is only $37 CAD and they have lasted me 3 seasons so far!

Waterproof shell: Most people will have this item but I thought I’d include it anyway since it’s so handy in Canada. The Columbia waterproof jacket is a lightweight windproof jacket that will seriously save you in many situations. The best part, though? It comes in pink!

Bear bells: These are a must, and for the price, you shouldn’t hike without them. The bear bells I use are only $3.99 CAD and they come with a silencer (a must) so you can easily travel with them.

Scent-proof bag (for bears): Most people think you only need to keep the smell of food away from you when you’re overnight camping. However, bears can smell the food in your bag while you’re hiking and the best way to avoid an encounter is to use a scent-proof bear bag. Basically, you put your food in the bag and the bear cannot smell it while you’re hiking. This is one item most people never have (I never hike without it) but it could save you and the bear.

Buff: I love my buff! Seriously, I go nowhere without it both in winter and summer. There are a few brands around but I always buy the original Buff (you know, the one from Survivor!) They’re a little more expensive but the material is good quality and both breathable and quick drying.

Dry bag: I have expensive camera equipment, so I always travel with a dry bag large enough to fit some of my equipment. It can be a camera, book, binoculars, or even my keys. Regardless, a dry bag gives me peace of mind! The MARCHWAY bag is really good quality, and when not in use, takes up only a small amount of room.

Binoculars: I love my binoculars! Seriously they have come in handy so many times, especially when I’m looking for wildlife. The best part is, I use a set that only costs $28 CAD and they serve my basic needs without any issues!

Don’t get Caught without Travel Insurance!

We never travel without travel insurance! We’ve had a few instances during our travels when one of us has ended up in the hospital, and travel insurance has saved us thousands of dollars over the years!

SafetyWing is our go-to insurance, we both have policies with them whenever we travel.

They offer travel medical insurance that’s super affordable (only $45 USD per 4 weeks!)The only thing to note is that the insurance must be purchased once you’ve left your home country – we typically buy it as soon as we land at the airport.  

We’ve personally used SafetyWing for many different trips, and we’ve been reimbursed for countless expenses when we’ve fallen ill. SafetyWing even covered our flights back to Canada in full when the pandemic first happened (when last-minute flights before the borders closed were super expensive!) While most travel insurance companies left people stranded, SafetyWing fully reimbursed us for our last-minute, pricey flights!

Also, because it is so affordable, there really is no excuse not to take out a policy. Check prices and get a quote online here with SafetyWing (you can even take out a policy if you’re already traveling!)

Thanks for reading!

Bailey and daniel from Destinationlesstravel standing on the first viewpoint on the trail to Ha Ling Peak, Canmore
Thanks for reading!

And there you have, 15 easy hikes in Canmore, Alberta that practically anybody can accomplish. Of course, some of these hikes are more challenging than others, but I wrote this blog in hopes I’ve recommended a hike for everyone.

If you liked this blog, be sure to read the rest of our Canada blogs are a couple of related blogs below:

How to Visit Banff at Christmas

BEST stops on the Icefields Parkway

EPIC things to do in Jasper


Thursday 7th of April 2022

What a great article for my upcoming trip to Canmore! Is it safe to do these hikes alone?


Friday 8th of April 2022

Hey Kristyn,

Yes, these hikes are safe to do alone and will likely be busy. Please carry bear spray and make lots of noise.

Thanks Daniel