Top 20 Hikes to do in the Canadian Rockies this summer

Stretch your legs a bit this summer. Hit your stride and don’t let “recharge” be just something you do for your phone. Knock off one of the classic Rocky Mountain hikes or choose one of the hidden gems. Make your memories from crystal clear alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, one-of-a-kind ridge walks and endlessly awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping mountain views.

1. Crypt Lake, Waterton Lakes National Park

A show stopper. Nature entertains you every step of the way. The only hike on this list that starts with a boat ride. Begin an upward 8.7km trek through a -woodlands, opening up with punch-bowl style waterfalls, peak views and a way cool tunnel you have to crawl through on your way to a rock-walled lake.

2. Wall Lake, access from Waterton Lakes National Park, in the Akamina-Kishinena Provincial Park

A short and relatively easy 5.2 km hike that is perfect for families and first-timers, your reward a beautiful lake with giant Akamina Ridge providing the backdrop.

A short and relatively easy 5.2 km hike that is perfect for families and first-timers, your reward a beautiful lake with giant Akamina Ridge providing the backdrop.

3. Mountain Lakes Trail (aka Heiko’s Trail), Fernie, BC

A real long day hike, 21 km one way, that ends with a cold beer at a mountain lodge. This epic, one of our favourites, is full of surprises at every switchback, from hidden trolls, waterfalls and limestone caves to high alpine meadow exploration.

Heiko's Trail. Photo: Tourism Fernie

Heiko’s Trail. Photo: Tourism Fernie

4. Polar Peak, Fernie, BC

Take the summer chairlift at Fernie Alpine Resort to access a spectacular ridge walk that starts from Lost Boys Pass, following the spine of the Lizard Range.. End with a short climb from the saddle to Polar Peak before returning to the top of the Timber Chairlift for your ride down. In total about 5 km but with all the amazing scenery give yourself 3 to 8 hrs to enjoy the eye candy.

Fernie - Polar Peak Hike - Photo by Cal Snape

Fernie – Polar Peak Hike – Photo by Cal Snape

5. Tanglefoot Lake, near Cranbrook, BC

A local secret. A perfect place to see the brilliant orange of Larch trees in late summer, take the plunge into a crystal clear lake, and chill out.

6. Lakit Lookout, near Cranbrook, BC

A long road and a short hike to a cool spot where you will want to linger longer. A walk on the side of an alpine basin to a shoulder that takes you to the summit ridge, with commanding views of the Kootenay Valley below and the Purcell Mountain Range in the distance.

7. Fish Lake, Top of the World Provincial Park, BC

A family-friendly hike to a high alpine lake. Jagged peaks hug Fish Lake, the reward after a relatively easy 6.7 km forested walk. Peaks above to entertain as you enjoy a perfect spot for a lakeside picnic.

Heli-Access lodge-based day hiking abounds at Hikes #8-#11. One of the best ways to explore the Canadian Rockies is to stay at Assiniboine Lodge or Talus Lodge

8. Elizabeth Lake, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC

Every hike in this park is magical. With the larger-than-life views of Mt. Assiniboine, this is the perfect sampler to experience the alpine scenery, lakes and mountain views with little elevation gain.

9. Wonder Pass, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, BC

Journey to a place that will make your mind ‘wander’ and ‘wonder’. A perfect place to sit, high in an alpine pass, easily accessed from Assiniboine Lodge, viewing colourful larch trees in late summer, emerald lakes, and powerful peaks.

10. Whiteman Mountain, Talus Lodge, BC

Venture out from the perfect mountain digs, Talus Lodge, heading towards the Continental Divide, to enjoy a mix of alpine meadows filled with tarns, waterfalls, hanging baskets and ledges of green, with an incredible backdrop of rugged mountain tops.

11. Summits and Stromatolites, Talus Lodge, BC

Strike out, heading up a scree slope above the lodge, pinned between two beautiful lake basins to explore peaks and fossils. Be amazed as you walk across beds of billion year old history and view the majestic Royal Group of Mountains in this distance from the higher ridgelines.

12. Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park, Field, BC

The trail where you touch the sky. Out of this world views of high peaks, waterfalls and alpine meadows. Pure bliss and expect a bit of crowd as it showcases natures magic work. Why not combine this with stay at picturesque Emerald Lake Lodge.

13. Lake O’Hara Shoreline Trail, Yoho National Park, Field, BC

A classic Rocky Mountain vista that you cannot get enough of. Big, colourful lake, surrounded by saw blade cut peaks, the combination will easily make you trip as it tugs at you with every step. Book way in advance and stay in history at Lake O’Hara Lodge.

Plain of six Glaciers - Photo credit Travel Alberta

Plain of six Glaciers – Photo: Travel Alberta

14. Plain of Six Glaciers, Banff National Park

Six glaciers. So many possibilities. Start at Chateau Lake Louise, follow the shoreline and be amazed with every step away from the crowds at the lake. Your rewards on this hike: truly incredible scenery, wildlife sightings and a visit to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Another one of our favourites.

15. Borgeau Lake, Banff National Park

Hot summer days in Banff and a mountain lake – there’s a perfect summer day. This hike begins close to Banff, climbs steadily through forest, breaking out onto a rock walled basin that frames a perfect lake for a swim.

16. Sunshine Meadows, Banff National Park

A classic. Experience the alpine without the climb. Bus provided access delivers you to an alpine table where flower-filled meadows and views of the surrounding high peaks await.

17. Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

One of the park’s most popular hikes, Johnston Canyon delivers big on everything you want from a day in the mountains: waterfalls, canyon walls, river runs and serene pools.

Johnston Canyon - Photo Cred Travel Alberta

Johnston Canyon – Photo: Travel Alberta

18. Upper Kananaskis Lake, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Canmore, AB

A giant lake in a pristine alpine setting is the draw here. Choose a section to explore on this loop or do it all in a day. From big waterfalls to jagged ridges, the views will amaze from this ever-changing shoreline trail.

19. Elbow Lake, Highwood Pass area, Kananaskis Provincial Park, Canmore, AB

This is the shortest hike on the list. A family favourite that delivers all the right ingredients for a first-time Canadian Rockies hiking experience, with a beautiful mountain lake and exquisite mountain scenery.

20. Ptarmigan Cirque, Highwood Pass area, Kananaskis Provincial Park, Canmore, AB

Get into the high country here quick. From sub-alpine forest to a real alpine basin in 2 km. The peaks here are postcard-perfect, and every hike offers good potential to see mountain goats.

This guest blog post is by Powder Matt, a travel & adventure writer. Follow Powder Matt on Instagram and Twitter.