7 Amazing Waterfall Hikes in Alberta

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Alberta is home to some of Canada’s most beautiful places to see. From the Rocky Mountains and turquoise glacier fed lakes to the open prairies and brilliant yellow canola fields.

Today I’m focusing on the pretty waterfalls you can hike to in Alberta.

My first waterfall hike in Alberta was one of the most magnificent falls (two waterfalls actually) in one hiking trail. That school trip from Calgary to Johnston Canyon many years ago kickstarted my love affair with hiking.

In this post I’m sharing 7 gorgeous waterfall hikes from my home province of Alberta Canada.

The first three of these beautiful hikes to waterfalls are close to Calgary, Canmore, and Banff. And I’ve done all of them as day trips from Calgary.

The other four waterfalls on the list you will find near Jasper Alberta, in the Canadian Rockies. What makes these hikes even more special is the road trip to get there, the spectacular Icefields Parkway.

If you are into nature, wildlife, camping, hiking, interesting geology, or watching the night skies then get on the road to the Rocky Mountains.

And now let’s look at seven beautiful waterfalls you can hike to in Alberta.

 

7 Amazing Waterfall Hikes Alberta

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3 Waterfalls Near Calgary

The long summer days are perfect for enjoying the outdoors. One reason Calgary often gets mentioned on the lists for top places to live is the abundance of outdoor activities nearby.

In winter some of the hiking trails are used for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. All year round there is something to do outdoors in Alberta.

 

Troll Falls

Have a look around when you get to the falls and see if you can spot the trolls.

The hike to Troll Falls is mostly flat and since it’s a short hike it makes for a good family outing with the kids. In winter you can do this as a snowshoe or cross-country ski trip.

Get all the info on hiking Troll Falls here.

 

Shaking hands with the troll near the waterfall

Look for the little trolls hidden in the rocks around the waterfall area

 

Johnston Canyon

One of my favorite hikes in Banff National Park, partly because it was my first hike as a kid, and due to the beauty of the waterfalls.

You can do the Johnston Canyon hike in winter but be sure to wear crampons on your hiking boots. The frozen waterfalls are extraordinary!

There are two official waterfalls along the Johnston Canyon Trail and one secret waterfall and cave that is slightly off the trail.

Find all the details and tips for hiking the Johnston Canyon in Banff.

 

Upper falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff

Hike to Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon

 

Elbow Falls

This is a favorite spot for picnics during the beautiful summer weather in Alberta. Elbow Falls offers gorgeous views of the mountains while sitting alongside the Bow River and the waterfalls.

Get more info on Elbow Falls trail here.

 

Elbow Falls Alberta Bow River

Elbow Falls Alberta Bow River

 

 

7 Amazing Waterfall Hikes in Alberta Canada You Have to DoClick to Tweet

 

 

 

4 Waterfalls Near Jasper Alberta

Getting to the Jasper waterfalls is half the adventure. One of the most amazing scenic drives in the world is the extraordinary Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper Alberta.

Also known as Hwy 93 N, the Icefield Parkway drive is outstanding because of the scenery and easy access to stop and take photos or do some hiking.

I’ve outlined all the best stops on the Icefields Parkway in one article you can read now, and bookmark for later, when you hit the road.

 

A bear looking at you from this Jasper National Park wooden sign

 

Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya Canyon is one of my top picks for places to stop on the way to Jasper and a wonderful place for a picnic lunch.

The short hike to Mistaya Canyon is instantly rewarding. Catch stunning views of the Rockies and spend some time sitting on the smooth rocks by the Mistaya River.

It’s a beautiful short hike to the waterfalls at Mistaya Canyon.

Get all the info about hiking Mistaya Canyon here.

 

Tourists at Mistaya Canyon Alberta

Tourists at Mistaya Canyon Alberta

 

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls is another beautiful waterfall hiking stop on the Icefields Parkway scenic drive.

Upper Sunwapta Falls is close to the parking lot but continue walking after you stop on the bridge to view the falls.

Lower Sunwapta Falls is about 1.5 miles (2.6 km) round trip on a pretty trail through the forest and along the river.

Total elevation gain is about 285 ft (87 m) and dogs are allowed on the trail – just keep the furbabies on leash at all times please.

 

Lower Sunwapta Falls Alberta

Lower Sunwapta Falls near Jasper Alberta

 

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca is my favorite waterfall on the Icefields Parkway. It is mesmerizing to watch and listen to the power of these falls.

There is more than one viewing point for the Athabasca Falls and you can expect to get a bit wet from the spray of the falls sometimes.

Find out more about hiking the Athabasca Falls here.

 

Athabasca Falls in Alberta

Athabasca Falls near Jasper Alberta

 

Maligne Canyon

If you want to do an amazing hike in Jasper check out the Maligne Canyon trail where you can see the cool heart shaped rock hanging in the canyon and some beautiful waterfalls.

Maligne Canyon (pronounced MUH-leen) is one of the most photographed places in Canada but you have to go and see for yourself to appreciate the true beauty.

Get all the details about the Maligne Canyon hike here.

 

Maligne waterfall Jasper

Maligne waterfall Jasper National Park Alberta

 

While you’re in Jasper be sure to check out the lovely hiking trail called Valley of the Five Lakes. It’s an easy hike and the colors of these lakes are jaw dropping gorgeous.

The five lakes trail is just south of the town of Jasper, watch for the sign about 8 km (5 miles) south on Hwy 93. Read more about hiking Valley of the Five Lakes here.

 

Tips for hiking in Alberta

  • Always check the weather report before you plan your hiking trip
  • Bring bear spray and know how to use it – watch this informative video
  • Wear hiking shoes with good gripping power especially when hiking on wet surfaces
  • In winter use crampons on your hiking boots
  • Bring a refillable water bottle and snacks or picnic lunch
  • Wear layers and bring cold weather clothing (even in summer) when hiking in the mountains because the weather changes rapidly
  • Wear a wide brimmed and bring sunscreen and insect repellent in the summer

Shop REI or Shop Amazon Now for hiking clothing and gear

Enjoy hiking around Alberta and keep exploring!

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7 Amazing Waterfalls Alberta

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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