Head to the mountains or foothills this winter for some real winter fun: snowshoeing! While you can snowshoe anywhere there is snow, the best trails have lots of puffy snow and beautiful scenery. If the snow is packed down, go off trail! Not only will you get more of a workout, you’ll have way more fun log hopping and jumping in the snow.
Here’s where to snowshoe near Calgary (includes trails in West Bragg Creek, Banff, and Kananaskis).
Kananaskis Snowshoe Trails
There are 17 official snowshoe trails in Kananaskis. Snow seekers should make their way to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The Chester Lake area receives a TON of snow each winter!
Here are our top picks for snowshoeing with the family. Click the links for detailed trip reports!
Hogarth Lakes Loop is a pretty, family-friendly snowshoe trail that is only 3.9 km return with 30 m elevation gain.
Elkwood Loop Trail is scenic and not too long! Start at Elkwood Amphitheatre Parking Lot and snowshoe through trees and meadows to Marl Lake. There are great views of Mount Indefatigable across the lake! 3.4 km, 23 m elevation gain.
Ribbon Creek Snowshoe Trail, located near Kananaskis Village, has several bridges that kids will love to cross. We went over 5 bridges in the first kilometre! 3.7 km one way with 60 m elevation gain. *Avalanche danger beyond the end of the trail!* Note that a couple sections are shared with cross country skiers; please be courteous and stay off the ski tracks. 🙂
Black Prince Cirque is a fun and pretty trail with lots of snow to play in. Do not go past Warspite Lake as there is avalanche danger across the lake. Note that this trail is shared with backcountry skiers. 4.3 km round trip, 90 m elevation gain.
Wintour Trail is actually Highway 40 past the winter gate. It may seem odd to snowshoe on the road, but the vistas are pretty amazing! Park near the winter gate and snowshoe south. 5 km return, 74 m elevation gain. *THERE IS AVALANCHE DANGER 2.5 KM PAST THE WINTER GATE. TURN BACK AFTER 2.5 KM.*
Rawson Lake takes you along the shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake to Sarrail Falls, then up switchbacks through subalpine forest to Rawson Lake. Do not cross the lake as the awesome peaks overlooking the lake pose serious avalanche danger. 7.8 km return, 320 m elevation gain.
Chester Lake is a good climb with awesome payoff at the end. Although you hike up through the trees, the meadows near the lake are expansive and just beyond the lake, snow covered boulders (the Elephant Rocks) make for fun climbing and cool photos. For more information, please see Year Round Fun at Chester Lake. 7.2 km return, 287 m elevation gain.
Mention: Troll Falls is a great family hike year round. Bring ice cleats as the trail gets packed and icy (not suitable for snowshoeing unless Kananaskis Village has received a huge dump of snow). 3.1 km return, minimal elevation gain. For more information, please read our story: Troll Falls and Upper Falls, Kananaskis. For more information, please see the Alberta Parks – Kananaskis Snowshoeing Brochure.
Stop at the Peter Lougheed Visitor Centre before or after your snowshoe outing. There are cool exhibits, washrooms, and a microwave and kettle available for public use. The views off the back deck are gorgeous too! Check the events calendar for interpretive programs.
Afternoon tea at Mount Engadine Lodge is a fantastic après-snowshoe treat! Available daily from 2 pm – 5 pm.
West Bragg Creek Snowshoe Trails
Snowy Owl Trail is great on a calm day as it’s quite open and gets lots of sun. It parallels the Mountain Road ski trail and is quite flat for the first couple kilometres. Download the West Bragg Creek Trail Map here.
- Option 1: For a nice 2.6 km round-trip snowshoe outing, make the blue bridge your destination.
- Option 2: Do a 2.7 km loop by making a loop with Snowy Shortcut and West Crystal Line. Details are in this story: Snowshoeing Snowy Owl / West Crystal Line Loop, West Bragg Creek.
Snowshoe Hare Loop is a rolling trail that is 5.4 km long with 173 m elevation gain when you’re ready for more of a challenge. For more information, see BCKOR’s trip description. Download the West Bragg Creek Trail Map here.
West Bragg Creek Amenities
Stop in at the Powderhorn Saloon for lunch, or get a sweet treat at Frontier Candy & Ice Cream! Several more tasty options await in the charming hamlet of Bragg Creek.
Banff Snowshoe Trails
Winter offers the opportunity to snowshoe across frozen lakes. The safest times to do this are mid-December until the end of February, but weather conditions are always changing, so check ice thickness before venturing on to the ice. For ice safety tips, please see this post.
Johnson Lake offers fantastic views of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain. You can take the flat and pretty trail around the lake (2.8 km), or snowshoe right on the lake once it’s frozen. Chariot friendly. (Closed until May 14, 2020)
Lake Minnewanka’s shoreline is gorgeous year round! If the ice is thick enough, you can snowshoe on the lake, but use extreme caution and stay close to shore. You can snowshoe to the first campground (LM8 at 7.6 km), but Stewart Canyon is a nice destination with kids. It’s only 800 metres to the bridge, or 6.5 km return to the river gorge (minimal elevation gain). For more information, see Hiking With Barry – Stewart Canyon.
Tunnel Mountain gives you great views of Cascade Mountain. 1.7 km one way. Start at Tunnel Mountain Drive and St Julien Way in the town of Banff. The upper part of the road is closed to cars in the winter! For a longer trip, hike to the summit of Tunnel Mountain! If the trail is packed down, snowshoes may not be needed, but ice cleats are recommended for traction (especially on the descent).
Lake Louise Snowshoe Trails
Snowshoe across Lake Louise or take the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail (4 km return) to 100 metre high Louise Falls. Both are Chariot friendly. For more information, see Snowshoe, Ski, Skate, and Walk on World Famous Lake Louise.
Fairview Lookout is a steep, but fun trail that leads to a viewpoint overlooking Lake Louise and the Chateau. 2 km return, 100 m elevation gain. For more information, see Snowshoeing to Fairview Lookout.
Lake Agnes Trail to Mirror Lake is a good climb through the trees that offers glimpses down at Lake Louise and a view of the Beehive from Mirror Lake. Do not go past Mirror Lake as it is avalanche terrain! 6 km return from Chateau Lake Louise, 300 m elevation gain. Follow the signs on the right side of the lake (opposite the boathouse).
Peyto Lake Viewpoint is located off the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93). A short trail takes you to stunning lookout. (November 2019 update: construction closure until further notice). For more information on these and other trails, please see Parks Canada – Winter Trails in the Banff Area and Parks Canada – Winter Trails in the Lake Louise Area.
There are tons of dining options in Banff. For inexpensive take out, head to the Food Court at Cascade Mall (they have a Rocky Mountain Flatbread), McDonald’s, or Chaya (Japanese food).
We really like The Bison for lunch, Maple Leaf Grill for a fancy dinner, and Old Spaghetti Factory for a casual dinner.
Lake Louise Amenities
The Visitor Centre, located in the Village, has several exhibits and washrooms. Chateau Lake Louise has several dining options from casual to fine dining. We’ve enjoyed cocoa and lunch at the cafe, fondue at Walliser Stube Fondue place, and Afternoon Tea at the Chateau. For an unforgettable dinner, head to Deer Lodge (fine dining). In the Village, we like Laggan’s Bakery and Timberwolf Pizza & Pasta Cafe (at Lake Louise Inn).
I am a volunteer Alberta Parks Ambassador, but all words and opinions are my own.
- Falling for Winter – Your winter recreation guide for Calgary, Banff, and Kananaskis
- 10 Tips for Fun Family Snowshoeing
- Children’s Snowshoes Reviews – Atlas Sprout, MSR Tyker, Snowtrek SS14
- 14 Things to Do in Canmore This Winter
- 9 Things to Do in Lake Louise This Winter
- 10 Things to Do in Banff This Winter
- Keeping Kids Warm in Winter – what to look for and what we wear
- Why You Need Avalanche Skills Training