Kananaskis Country is located on the eastern slopes of the Canadian Rockies, west and south of the Olympic city of Calgary, Alberta. Its western border is the Continental Divide south of the resort towns of Banff and Canmore.
In the west, near the backbone of the Canadian Rockies, the scenery is much the same as in adjoining Banff National Park: High limestone peaks (up to 3449 m), glaciers, waterfalls, blue-green lakes, boisterous streams, forested valley bottoms of spruce and fir with larches at treeline. Winter snowfall can be heavy, so some trails, such as Burstall Pass trail, may not be clear of snow until mid July.
To the east the friendly foothills are a mosaic of sandstone bluffs, pine/aspen forests and meadows. They dry quickly of snow, making hiking possible from March to November, and sometimes right through the winter.
In between are the Front Ranges, a complex jumble of arid valleys, rocky peaks and interconnecting ridges built of both limestones and sandstones. It’s here you’ll find easy peaks to climb and ridges to wander over.
Alpine meadows are sandwiched between forest and rock and coat many good hiking ridges. For too brief a time from late June to mid August, they are crammed with flowers. In particular, overseas visitors will be intoxicated by the gaudy colours of North America’s Indian Paintbrush. I advise all flower buffs to buy a field guide to put in the pack.
The map shows the five major divisions of Kananaskis Country. Popular Day Hikes has a selection of trails from all of the areas. The five detailed Kananaskis Country Trail Guides contain all the trails in each of the major divisions.
Other than Greyhound buses that run along the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Banff, there is no public transportation. You need to rent a car. Consider also a mountain bike for some trails.
Most out-of-town visitors will access the Bow Valley, Spray Valley, Smith Dorrien and Kananaskis Valley from the resort town of Canmore. The Elbow area is best accessed from Calgary. Farther south, the small towns of Turner Valley and Longview are gateways to the Sheep and Highwood areas.
Click on the map for a larger downloadable version.