Kananaskis Valley Winter Activity Guide

by - Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Kananaskis Valley is home to Kananaskis Village, Nakiska Ski Area, and an awesome network of snowshoeing and cross country ski trails. Did you know there is also ice climbing, ice skating, fatbiking, and dogsledding in the area? Here are 10 things to do this winter in Kananaskis Valley.

Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis Valley
Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis Valley

Kananaskis Valley Winter Activity Guide

1. Cross Country Skiing

There's an extensive network of cross country ski trails in Kananaskis Valley. Here are the trails in order from easiest to most difficult:
  • Bill Milne Trail is a gorgeous, beginner-friendly trail that climbs very gently as you head south making for an easier return trip. No hills! It's also one of the few places in Kananaskis where you can skate ski. Start at Ribbon Creek and use caution crossing the road (always remove skis to cross the road). Stop at Mount Kidd RV Park for a hot chocolate - check winter hours before you go - or go all the way to Wedge Pond. 
  • Evan Thomas/Wedge Connector are two easy trails on the east side of Highway 40. Evan Thomas tends to get trampled by hikers and has one very steep section near the bridge you should walk down (where the tracksetting ends). Wedge is the better option for skiing; start at Wedge Pond, then continue on the Bill Milne Trail for a longer ski. 
  • Kovach/Aspen/Terrace depart from Kananaskis Lodge and offer a mix of beginner and intermediate terrain. We like skiing Aspen (green) and Kovach (blue) with the kids. Note that Terrace Trail (green) is shared with horse drawn sleighs over the holidays. 
  • Ribbon Creek (intermediate): This trail is a lot of fun if you like hills. There are some narrow and steep sections, so not recommended for beginners. 
  • Skogan Pass/Skogan Loop/High Level/Sunburst (intermediate and advanced) climb steadily to 3 beautiful viewpoints. Recommended for strong intermediate skiers. Due to its higher elevation, Skogan tends to have the best snow in the area, but during periods of melting and freezing, watch for ice flows between Troll Falls connector junction and Ruthie's trail junction. 
Download the PDF map from Alberta Parks - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and Kananaskis Valley Snowshoe Trails or pick up a copy from the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre.

Check the Alberta Parks Live Grooming Report for current conditions.

Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis Valley
Bill Milne Trail, Kananaskis Valley

2. Dogsledding

Go on a unique dogsledding tour - to a teepee camp, bison paddock, and trapper's cabin - at Boundary Ranch, just 6 kilometers from Kananaskis Village. Get more information at Boundary Ranch - Winter Activities.
Dogsledding at Boundary Ranch
Image Credit: Boundary Ranch

3. Downhill Skiing at Nakiska

With 71 runs, glades, and a large terrain park, Calgary's Closest Mountain is fun for everyone! See what we love about this mountain in Why You Need a Nakiska Season's Pass.

Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis
Nakiska Ski Area, Kananaskis

4. Fatbiking

Kananaskis Valley has several fatbiking trails: Bill Milne Trail, Ribbon Creek Snowshoe Trail, Stoney Trail (Seasonal closure: April 15-June 15), and Troll Falls Trail. See the Alberta Parks map to plan your ride.

Sign up for a fatbiking tour or rent a fatbike from Kananaskis Outfitters.

Kananaskis Outfitters Fatbiking Tour
Fatbike to Troll Falls!
Image Credit: Kananaskis Outfitters

5. Guided Tours with Kananaskis Outfitters

Kananaskis Outfitters offers fun tours including a canyon ice walks, moonlit snowshoe tour (with fondue!), star gazing and photography, and fatbiking to ice falls. They also offer cross country ski lessons and gear rentals. Get more information at Kananaskis Outfitters - Tours.

Kananaskis Outfitters Stargazing & Photography Snowshoe Tour
Kananaskis Outfitters Stargazing & Photography Snowshoe Tour
Image Credit: Kananaskis Outfitters

6. Hiking / Snowshoeing

  • Troll Falls is stunning in winter and only 3.4 km return. Take the "sled route" if you want to stay in the sunshine and avoid the hill. Note that it is extremely icy near the falls; microspikes recommended. 
  • Ribbon Creek Snowshoe Trail is fun and scenic trail with several bridges to cross. Follow the orange snowshoe markers and stay off the cross country ski tracks where the trail is shared. 
  • Village Loops (2.5 km) depart near Kananaskis Lodge. We prefer Troll Falls and Ribbon Creek for the scenery. 
  • Evan-Thomas Creek Trail has 3 sets of 100-metre tall ice falls. Start on the Evan Thomas Fire Road, take the first right at 1.6 km (Wedge Trail connector). Head down to the creek, cross the bridge, then continue upstream to Chantilly Falls at 3.1 km. Moonlight and Snowline are 0.8 km further (3.9 km from the parking lot). 
  • Nakiska Guided Snowshoe Tours are offered daily and include gear rentals, a hot beverage, and snack. There are easy, moderate, or challenging tours to choose from. Get more info from Nakiska - Snowshoeing. Note that snowshoeing trails at the resort not open to the public (only accessible via guided tours). 
Download the Alberta Parks - Peter Lougheed Provincial Park and Kananaskis Valley Snowshoe Trails PDF map or pick up a copy from the Barrier Lake Visitor Information Centre.

For more snowshoe trails in Kananaskis, check out my story: Where to Snowshoe Near Calgary.

Evan Thomas Trail
Image Credit: Bert Blankenstein
Nakiska Guided Snowshoeing Tour
Nakiska Guided Snowshoeing Tour
Image Credit: Nakiska Ski Area
Ribbon Creek Snowshoe Trail
Ribbon Creek Snowshoe Trail


7. Ice climbing

Evan-Thomas, 5.7 km from Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel, is the staging area for several ice climbing routes along Evan-Thomas Creek. Summit Post has detailed information on the various routes.

Chantilly Falls, Kananaskis Valley
Image Credit: Bert Blankenstein


8. Ice Skating

Skate on the Village Pond or skating rink by Delta Kananaskis Lodge.

village-pond-kananaskis-village
Ice skating at the Village Pond


9. Sleigh Ride

Sleigh Rides are available over the Christmas season at Mount Kidd Manor, Delta Lananaskis Lodge. Private sleigh rides are also available. Contact Boundary Ranch for more information.

Boundary Ranch Sleigh Ride in Kananaskis Valley
Sleigh Ride in Kananaskis Valley

10. Tubing at Nakiska

Not a skier? Try tubing at Nakiska! The tube park has 3 fun tubing lanes near the day lodge. For more information and rates, visit Nakiska - Tube Park.

Tip: If you're skiing at Nakiska for the day, you get a deal on your tube park lift ticket!

Nakiska Wanidu Tube Park
Image Credit: Nakiska Ski Area

Gear Rentals

Rent cross country skis, boots, pulks, poles; snowshoes, winter boots, and poles; fatbikes; or ice skates from Kananaskis Outfitters.

Rent downhill skis, boots, and poles; or snowshoes from Nakiska.

Where to Stay

Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel offers affordable, family-friendly lodging in private or dorm rooms. Read about our experience in Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel: Your Base Camp for Adventure.

Delta Kananaskis Lodge has just completed a major renovation and has some new restaurants. Read about our pre-reno stay in Winter Magic at Delta Kananaskis Lodge. Phase 1 of the 50,000 square foot Nordic Spa will open in March 2018. Visit the spa website at http://knordicspa.com/.

Mount Kidd RV Park is open year round for winter camping, however only power sites are available in winter and spring.

Kananaskis Hostel
Kananaskis Hostel

Dining

Delta Kananaskis Lodge has several dining options: Forte Restaurant (Italian), Cedar Room (upscale regional fare), Market Cafe, Blacktail Bar, Woody's Pub and Patio.

Moose Family Kitchen, next to Kananaskis Outfitters, has tasty and reasonably priced soup, sandwiches, Japanese beef bowls (my fav), and ramen. Limited seating available.

Moose Family Kitchen Ramen

Getting Here

Kananaskis Village, in the heart of Kananaskis Valley, is located 100 km from Calgary. Take Highway 1 / Trans Canada Highway west to the Highway 40 South / Kananaskis Trail exit. Continue for 23 km. At the signs for Nakiska and Delta Kananaskis Lodge, turn right onto Mount Allan Drive.

Options:
  • For Kananaskis Village, take your first left onto Centennial Drive.
  • For Nakiska, keep going straight.
  • For Ribbon Creek, take your first left onto Centennial Drive, then first right onto Ribbon Creek Road.
  • For Troll Falls, take your first right (parking lot is signed Stoney Trail).
Winter Activity Guide for Kananaskis Valley
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