With the Rocky Mountains in our backyard, adventure is at our fingertips. A quick hour’s drive, it is our sanctuary to escape the busy city life. With the winter season coming to a close, there are plenty of trails, treks and hikes to be done before the snow melts and summer arrives. With the days getting longer and brighter but the snow still falling, be sure to get out and enjoy the last weeks of winter.

Johnston Canyon

This hike is one of the most popular hikes in the Banff/Canmore area. With winding catwalks that lead up to stunning waterfalls, this hike can be enjoyed by anyone who wishes to experience a day in the Rockies. The trail isn’t too steep up to the falls so it’s a perfect trek for beginners. Should you wish to carry on up to the Ink Pots, the trail gets gradually steeper but can still be enjoyed by anyone wishing to see the entire canyon. Photos taken on Feb. 23, 2018.

Length: 10.3 kilometres to the Ink Pots

Level: easy to intermediate

Equipment needed:

  • Appropriate footwear
  • Crampons, a studded attachment for the bottom of the shoe to help gain traction in snowy and icy conditions, are strongly recommended for winter hiking

Head to All Trails for directions.

Canyon hiking trailThe trail levels out, alternating from downhill and uphill. It is a perfect hike for beginners and intermediates looking to get a view of the Ink Pots. Photo by Polly Eason.

Baker Creek

This trail is an excellent one for cross-country skiers. With stunning views of Castle Mountain, you whizz alongside trees drooping in the weight of snow underneath the mountain range. This is one of my favourite trails for a quick afternoon ski. The tracks are relatively flat with only a few inclines here and there. It’s a perfect place to practice your cross-country skiing techniques or learn for the first time. Photos taken on Feb. 10, 2018.

Length: 7.7 kilometres

Level: easy to intermediate

Equipment needed:

  • Cross-country skis
  • Cross-country poles
  • Cross-country boots
  • Winter clothing

Head to All Trails for directions.

Baker Creek skiingWhiz along the tracks on cross-country skis alongside trees drooping under the weight of snow. Photo by Polly Eason.

Jura Creek

This is my all-time favourite canyon hike. The trail is full of adventure, balancing over logs as the creek runs in the summer and scaling through the rocky crevices blanketed in snow in the winter. It’s often less busy than other trails if you are looking for a quieter trek. Slipping through the narrow canyon and hugging the rock walls, this hike is great any time of the year. Photos taken on Feb. 25, 2018.

Length: 7.1 kilometres

Level: easy to intermediate

Equipment needed:

  • Appropriate shoes
  • Gators for heavy snow

Head to All Trails for directions.

 valleyThe view as you leave the canyon behind you and head back towards the car. Photo by Polly Eason.

My favourite tips for trails and treks in winter:

  • Bring a backpack with hot chocolate to warm up along the way.
  • Layer up! Layers are vital when dressing for activity in the cold. Especially those more active trails like cross-country skiing, you will want to be able to shed layers as you get your blood pumping.

Don’t let not having the right equipment stop you! Where to rent equipment in Calgary:

  • MEC (830-10th Ave S.W.): Mountain Equipment Co-op rents all sorts of equipment for a daily or weekly rate. Cross-country skis, boots, poles, snowshoes, avalanche beacon, crampons, hiking boots and even backpacks are available here.
  • Sports Rent (4424 16th Ave N.W.): renting both winter and summer equipment, this is a great location to rent the full sport package, priced by the number of days you wish to rent for.

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Editor: Kate Paton | cpaton@cjournal.ca 

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