The coldest season of the year is here, but that won’t stop the mountains from calling! No matter the temperature, those who love the great outdoors will still find a way to enjoy our backyard – after all, not everyone is so lucky!

It is important, however, that you know where to go and what to bring if you’re headed to the Rockies in December which is why we’ve put together a beginner’s guide to winter hiking in Alberta.

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Photo via Shawn.ccf / Shutterstock.comFrom the most scenic destinations to ice-friendly gear, here are just a few things to note when braving the elements. As always, stay on the trails and be safe while visiting the mountains.

What to Wear

An Insulated Jacket

Now, this should go without saying, but a warm jacket is a MUST when hitting that snowy trail. Whether you buy from North Face or Patagonia, this jacket should be insulated and leave you just enough room to wear a warm base layer.

Proper Winter Boots

Before heading out on icy walks, ensure you are well-dressed for the weather – and we mean from head to toe!

Albertans should invest in a pair of proper boots to keep them upright – whether they plan on going hiking or just running errands.


When it comes to base layers, you can never go wrong with a cozy set of thermals. Canada’s Helly Hansen has a wide variety of tops in different patterns and bottoms that’ll keep your tush super warm on your winter hike.


Whether you shop at MEC or Mark’s, snow pants are an investment worth making. Though it’s not a requirement, a good pair will keep you dry and above all, cozy while hiking in and around Alberta.

Where to go

Johnston Canyon

If you already know – you know! Johnston Canyon is one of Banff’s most popular trails in the summertime, but in the winter it’s something else entirely. With several viewpoints of its icy waterfalls, we’d definitely recommend checking this one out, but be careful! This trail can get pretty icy – so it’ll be extra important to come with the right boots.

Where: Bow Valley Pkwy, Improvement District No. 9, AB

Ha Ling Trail 

Stretch those legs! While Ha Ling Trail is an absolute beauty, this one is mostly uphill so you may want to come prepared with microspikes and flexible clothing.

Where: Goat Creek Parking Lot, AB-742, Canmore, AB

Quarry  Lake

Photo via Curiocity Group

Another popular destination for those in and around the area, Quarry Lake offers some incredible views and a ton of wildlife. It’s safe, there are a ton of opportunities to take photos and, of course, there’s plenty of fresh air.

Where: Spray Lakes Rd, Canmore, AB

Rawson Lake

Located in Kananaskis Lake, this gorgeous spot is not one to be missed. While we’d recommend wearing spikes, this hike is great for enjoying beautiful views of stunning Sarrail Ridge.

Where: Near the Upper Kananaskis Lake day-use area

The Bow River Trail

Photo via Curiocity Group

Looking for something easy, yet impressive? We’d loosely consider this a ‘hike’ – but that doesn’t make it any less spectacular or worth taking this winter. Located in Canmore, those looking to get some fresh air without working up a sweat are encouraged to check this one out. It’s beginner-friendly, has stunning views and is only minutes away from restaurants and shops – so what’s not to love?

Where: Spur Line Trail, Canmore, AB

Grotto Canyon

Even in the wintertime, the Grotto Canyon Trail has something for everyone. The best part? This particular trail is great for kids and dogs, though –  veteran hikers do recommend appropriate footwear.

Where: Grotto Canyon Trail Parking Lot, Bighorn No. 8, AB

Maligne Canyon

Maligne is an all-season beauty – however, there’s something truly spectacular about it in the winter. When it’s completely frozen over, this incredible trail is one of the most magical on this entire list – though we’d recommend taking a guided tour of this one.

Where: Directions here – Jasper National Park, AB

Heart Creek Trail 

Located in the Bow Valley, Heart Creek Trail is a nice little adventure with a beautiful view of the mountains, towering trees, bridges, and a hidden waterfall. Dress warm and tread carefully, Alberta! It’s a beaut!

Where: Off Range Rd 91A across from Lac Des Arcs

And there you have it, folks! Where to go and what to bring on a winter hiking trip in Alberta, now get out there and enjoy!