Hiking Guide for Canmore, Alberta, Canada

Canmore and the surrounding area (see map) offers some of the best hiking and backpacking found anywhere in North America. Spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air and a variety of pristine lakes, alpine meadows, and of course the mountains themselves provide the perfect backdrop for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy this wonderful outdoor activity.

The Bow River, Canmore CanadaThousands of people come to hike and climb in and around the Canadian Rockies town of Canmore, Alberta each year. The information provided here is intended to be used only as a guide. We would like to acknowledge the different individuals who have provided invaluable first hand knowledge for this guide. Your hiking experience in Canmore would be most enjoyable if you take the time to fully plan your trip.

Hiking along Cougar Creek, Canmore CanadaPlanning:
Due to the number of visitors to Canmore each year, it is advisable have pre-arranged accommodation or lodging prior to your arrival. When you're heading out for the day, remember to dress in layered clothing, the variations in Rocky Mountain weather can be extreme and your hiking trip may not be as enjoyable as it could be, simply because you were not properly dressed. Know where you are going or hire one of the many world class guides and be sure to take a camera. You'll have plenty of opportunities for some beautiful pictures of the surrounding Canadian Rockies spectacular scenery.

Canmore CreekHiking and Walking Tips:
Hiking is one of the best ways to enjoy all that Canmore and the Canadian Rockies have to offer. For some it is a physical challenge, for others, an adventure and escape to nature. The following are tips on what may be considered some essential information for anyone who enjoys hiking.

Hiking Safety... Use Common Sense!

Here are some common sense guidelines for hiking in the Canadian Rockies:

  • Take proper gear which includes protection for weather protection any time of year, a first-aid kit with blister treatments, and appropriate maps.
  • Wear comfortable shoes or boots and outdoor socks to protect your feet.
  • If you are planning on camping make sure to test your gear before heading out on your trip.
  • Always let a friend or family member know where you are going and when you plan on returning. Authorities will not start a search unless you are reported missing.
  • Know your limitations. An average hiker travels 3-4 kilometers an hour. If the trail is steep, you can figure on an additional hour for every 300 meters of elevation gain. Remember that your gear, young children or bad weather may really slow your travel time. Allow yourself ample time to reach your destination and return!
  • Carry water. Streams and lakes may carry Giardia Lamblia protozoans, making the water unsafe for drinking unless boiled, chemically treated or filtered. If you develop symptoms such as diarrhea, cramps or bloating see a physician.
  • BEARS: All bears are dangerous. Never approach or feed a bear. NEVER! If you do encounter a bear, stay calm and slowly, quietly leave the area. Do not run or scream, this behavior may provoke a chase. Bears can run about 55 kilometers per hour. If you see an animal carcass while hiking, walk slowly and alertly away from it.
  • COUGARS: If you see a Cougar, DO NOT RUN. Talk calmly, do not make eye contact with the animal, stand tall and back away slowly. Pick up small children and attempt to appear as large as possible. If an attack seems eminent, act aggressively! Unlike bears, Cougars may be frightened off by yelling or being struck by rocks or big sticks.
  • Other animals such as Deer and Elk can also be dangerous. Don't hike alone, make noise, avoid hiking in early morning or dusk, never enter a closed trail, observe all animals from a distance, consider carrying pepper spray.

Equipment Checklist

Hiking in the Canadian Rockies will be much more enjoyable for you if you have the proper equipment. Here are some suggestions to help you get off on the right foot:

  • CLOTHING: Cut-off pants, gloves, hat, wind breaker, warm jacket, pants, rain wear, long and short sleeve shirts, comfortable hiking footwear and cotton or wool socks.
  • FIRST AID (mimimum): Antiseptic, ace bandage, band-aids, burn ointment, chap stick, foot (blister) pads/powder, gauze compresses, salt tablets, sharp knife, sunscreen lotion.
  • ADDITONAL ITEMS: Compass, day pack with (2 litres of water), waterproof matches, survival blanket, flashlight/extra batteries, area maps, paper/pencil, pocket knife, sewing kit, sun glasses, toilet paper (in plastic packets) and wet towels.
  • Personal Safety Products for your Canadian Rockies Adventure including: Bear Attack Deterrent, Dog Repellent, Critter Gitter, Bear Safety Kits, Signal Launchers and Signal Kits.

Sun Protection

As beautiful as hiking the Canadian Rockies on a sunny day can be, you still have to protect yourself from harmful ultraviolet rays. Here are some suggestions to help make your day more enjoyable:

  • Keep in mind that the ultraviolet radiation of the sun which will burn you is stronger at higher elevations and are most intense in snow and water environments. Wear protective hats and other coverings when in the sun. A natural suntan which has been obtained slowly helps protect you from sunburn.
  • When you buy a commercial sunscreen product look for a SPF (sun protection factor) rating on the package.
  • SPF 2 to 4 - Minimal protection for people who rarely burn and tan easily and deeply.
  • SPF 4 to 6 - Moderate protection for people who tan well with minimal burn.
  • SPF 6 to 8 - Extra protection for people who burn moderately and tan gradually.
  • SPF 8 to 15 - Maximum protection from sunburning for people who always burn easily and tan minimally.
  • SPF 15 or greater - Ultra protection from sunburn, offers the most protection which permits no sun tanning for people who burn easily and never tan.

If you become lost, try and remain calm, seek out shelter and begin to ration whatever supplies you have. Do not make an attempt to find your way back unless absolutely necessary. This may actually hinder any search efforts that may be ongoing.