Our Favourite Winter Hikes in Calgary and the Surrounding Areas

Johnston Canyon Banff Winter Hikes in Calgary - SavvyMom

Is your family itching to get outside and explore the great outdoors? As it turns out, you don’t have to go far to experience wonderful winter hikes in Calgary and the beauty of nature in and around the city. With many urban parks throughout YYC, there’s no shortage of places to explore – even during the coldest months.

If mountain views and frozen waterfalls are what you’re looking for, we are also lucky to have tons of incredible hikes to take just outside of the city, in Canmore, Banff, and Kananaskis.

Here are some of our favourite places to for winter hikes in Calgary and the surrounding areas…

Fish Creek Park

Did you know that Fish Creek Park is the second largest urban protected area in Canada? With over 100 kilometres of path to explore, it’s a great place to take a stroll any season of the year. The Ice Falls and Caves, located near the Bow Valley Ranche restaurant, are a popular destination to check out when temperatures drop. Although the “falls” are created by melting water and not an actual waterfall, they are a beautiful spot to visit just the same. A word of caution – if the weather has been warm, the creek directly in front of the ice falls may not be completely frozen over, so you’ll have to admire them from afar. Just beyond the ice falls are small caves that can also be fun to explore. Bring a pair of binoculars and do a little bird watching along the way, or pack some firewood for a cozy winter bonfire to warm yourself up!


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Prince’s Island Park

Prince’s Island Park is a fun destination for a nature walk in the heart of the city. Walking along the Chevron Learning Pathway is a great way to explore the park, as interpretive signs explain how the wetlands the pathway winds around work, and also present information about wildlife, habitat, and water quality. Another trail that’s well worth visiting is the ‘Remembering Our Children’ trail, which is a walk designed to take while using the Urban Society for Aboriginal Youth (USAY) IndigiTRAILS app. Using the app, you’ll be able to explore seven digital art installations with a focus on starting conversation about Residential Schools.

During your visit to Prince’s Island Park, stop at the lagoon to watch the skaters take the ice, or lace up your own skates and join in on the fun!

Bowness Park

Bowness Park is a favourite destination for many Calgarians throughout the year. In winter, the frozen lagoon brings tons of fun in the forms of skating and ice biking. If you love to curl, you’ll definitely have to check out their outdoor curling and crokicurling rinks! The Bowness Park Bow River Pathway Loop is a 4.8 kilometre loop and one of the best winter hikes in Calgary that’s perfect for walkers of all ability levels. But if you’d like an even more fun way to hit the trails, you’ve got to bring your skates, or rent an ice bike!

The 1.6 kilometre ice trail is tons of fun and a great alternative to your average walk in the park! Whether you take the trails by foot or by skate, there are plenty of outdoor fire pits to warm up beside when you’re all done.

Winter Hikes in Calgary Inglewood Bird Sanctuary - SavvyMom

Pearce Estate Park and the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

Pearce Estate Park is a 15-hectare wetland and the home of the Bow Habitat Visitor Centre, which is open year-round. There are multiple pathways in the park and along the Bow River to explore. If you’re in the mood for a longer walk, the full Bow River Pathway loop is a 6.8 kilometre loop which provides views of (you guessed it!) the Bow River. The large park at near the parking lot also has a playground for kids in the mood to climb and slide!

When you’re done your visit at Pearce Estate Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary is nearby, and definitely worth checking out. The 2.3 kilometre loop around the sanctuary will take you over bridges, along the Bow River, and past the historic Colonel Walker House. Keep your eyes peeled for many species of birds and perhaps a deer or two along the way!

Grassi Lakes Winter Hikes in Calgary - SavvyMom

Grassi Lakes

The Grassi Lake hike has two trails to choose from, making it a perfect destination for hikers of all ability levels. While pushing an off-road stroller up the easier trail is possible, you’ll want to avoid the harder route, which has more twists, turns, and rugged terrain, but does come with a beautiful waterfall view. Regardless of which path to the top you choose, there is ample beauty to enjoy all around you. The 4-kilometre hike takes about 1.5 hours to the top and back.

Troll Falls

If frozen waterfalls and a “treasure hunt” sound like fun, a hike a Troll Falls is exactly what you need this winter. This easy hike has little elevation gain, making it the perfect trek everyone in the family. You won’t need to pack your snow cleats for a visit to Troll Falls, although after a large snowfall, many visitors prefer to take the trails by snowshoe. At the fork in the trail, stick to the right to find the picturesque frozen falls. Perhaps the best part of a visit to Troll Falls is keeping a lookout for hidden trolls visitors like to leave along the path – hence the name of the falls! The total loop distance for a hike around Troll Falls is 3.4 kilometres.

Johnston Canyon Banff Winter Hikes in Calgary - SavvyMom

Johnston Canyon

Visitors come from far and wide to visit the stunning frozen waterfalls of Johnston Canyon. Although the hike is fairly easy, ice cleats are recommended for this sometimes slippery trek. When visiting Johnston Canyon, you can opt for a shorter hike by sticking to the Lower Falls. Here, you can take in the frozen waterfalls from a nearby viewing platform. For a longer adventure, head to the Upper Falls (an extra 2.7 kilometres one way), where a bit more rugged path will take you past smaller waterfalls, and beautiful walls of ice that are a popular destination for ice climbers. Parking can be limited at the base of the trail, so you may want to consider taking a shuttle from Banff to bypass the crowds in the parking lot.

What are your favourite places to take a winter walk or hike in YYC? Do you have tried and true spots for winter hikes in Calgary? We’d love to hear about them in the comments!


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