Hiking in Kananaskis

hiking in kananaskis

In a little over a month I will be back in Canada for a five week visit (and to get married) after living in Germany for a year.  Besides seeing family and friends I am beyond excited to go hiking and scrambling in Kananaskis and Banff, both in the Canadian Rockies.  Kananaskis is a provincial park just outside of the more famous Banff National Park.  It’s a popular hiking and scrambling destination for locals as the scenery is spectacular, wildlife sightings are frequent  and you often have the entire trail to yourself as we did on this one (Mount Lawrence Grassi, just outside of Canmore).

hiking in kananaskis

It may not look far, but it was a long slog up this scree slope to the summit of Mount Lawrence Grassi in Kananaskis.

Route finding adds to the fun since many of the trails are unofficial trails – meaning there’s no sign so you’re often looking for a cairn (pile of rocks) as a marker for the start of the trail.  For those wondering, Mount Lawrence Grassi is considered a “scramble” rather than a hike.  A scramble is essentially a hike where you have to use your hands in some places, as I am doing in the top photo, but where no ropes are required (that is referred to as climbing and is more technical).  Often on a scramble there is scree (small loose rock) which can be slow going – one step forward two steps back, but on the positive side, it makes for a quick descent.  I prefer scrambling over hiking as I love the challenge of figuring out where to put my hands and feet to ascend the mountain.  Just writing this makes me so excited and I already have a few of my scrambles in the Canadian Rockies planned out.

Have you gone scrambling?  Would you try it?


  1. says

    Love the term scramble… we were definitely scrambling up Mt. Fuji. hands knees, any part of our bodies to keep us on the mountain!

  2. Laurel says

    @Jade – Me too and it really is useful for distinguishing from a hike since not everybody feels comfortable scrambling. I would love to scramble up Mt. Fuji, that would be truly amazing!

  3. Gina says

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding! I also went back to Canada to get married (last October). I’m just finally doing the paperwork to have it recognized in Germany.

    I hiked/scrambled up Säntis (in Switzerland) once. It was mostly an easy hike but there were a few harder parts… still fine for a beginner (i.e. me) though.

    Are you from AB? I’m from southern ON (yuck).

  4. Laurel says

    @Gina – Thanks so much, cool that you also went back to Canada to get married. Most of my friends did the wedding here. I’ll have to check out Säntis. I’ve been to Switzerland, but haven’t done any hiking there yet. I’m from AB and have only spent a little time in ON, I love the mountains, but I’ve heard that Cottage Country is very nice in ON.

    • Gina says

      Oooh yes, cottage country is great! The highways north of Toronto are jam-packed with cars with canoes mounted on top every Friday after work all summer.

  5. says

    Congrats and many Best wishes for the wedding Laurel :) Never gone scrambling, sounds so much fun though… would surely want to try that atleast once in my lifetime :)

  6. Laurel says

    @MIke – Thanks and I’ll try, would prefer not to break anything before the wedding :)

    @Arti – Thanks so much. I’m sure there would be some great places for scrambling where you are judging from your photos :)

    @Muya-chan – Thanks.

  7. says

    I have been obsessed with visiting Banff National Park since I was a kid and one of my crazy (but awesome) teachers made me aware of it by including it on a geography map quiz. It is good to know there are other fun things to do around when I do make it that way.

    And congrats on your upcoming marriage!

  8. Laurel says

    @TheTravelChica – Cool teacher! Many locals actually prefer Kananaskis to Banff since it’s closer to Calgary and less touristy. I really like them both. Thanks for the congrats, we’re getting married in Banff.

    @Roy – LOL, well it’s always more fun when you intend to do it :)

    @Mette – Thanks. Climbing is with ropes and climbing gear, scramblilng doesn’t require any equipment.

  9. says

    Scrambling sounds like so much fun! I love that first pic. I’ve only scrambled once, in the Smoky Mountains when the main trail was closed and we had crawl up a rock to reach the top. A little scary, but fun!

  10. says

    So you’re getting married in Canada. All the Germans I’ve met love the Rockies – so you should be a big hit with the new inlaws.
    And just this weekend I am flying to Calgary and hoping o scramble up some of those slopes. Love the photo at the top.

  11. says

    Ooooh, looks lovely there, although I’m more of a hiker than a scrambler. Didn’t realise your wedding date was so close – or that you are getting married in Canada. Congratulations. Bet you’re really excited. :)

  12. Laurel says

    @Sophie – Thank you and agreed, love Canada’s landscapes, especially in the mountains.

    @Ben -Scrambling would totally be up your alley, think you would love it.

    @Scott – Sounds like fun, I love it when it’s a bit scary and your heart is beating!

    @Sensibletraveler – I can appreciate that, scrambling definitely isn’t for everyone.

    @Leigh – Our German guests are really excited and I’ve promised J.P’s father, to not take him on any big hikes and no scrambles. I’m really excited to show them Canada. Let me know which peaks you end up doing. I gather there’s still a lot of snow. Have fun!

    @Julia – Thanks, I am getting excited and am getting excited to go home to visit everyone as well. I think more people like hiking than scrambling, at least more of my friends do, even the ones that grew up in the Canadian Rockies.

  13. Sabrina says

    That looks actually kind of scary – especially the top photo. Are you secured by some kind of invisible line? :) By the way, I had no idea that your wedding was gonna be in Canada. Are you having a second ceremony in Germany or are some of the Germans coming to Canada with you guys?

  14. says

    I didn’t know you were getting married, belated congratulations!

    I haven’t hiked much in Canada, just walks at Gatineau Park. In Canada. I tend to stick to urban environment, maybe it’s an Ontario thing. I go to the country once in a while though, but it doesn’t qualify as wilderness yet.

    This hike reminds me of a crazy hike we did in Chile, in Patagonia, to Torres Del Paine. The hike was much harder than we thought and pretty dangerous, and the weather was crap (well, Patagonian), lots of wind. We ended up climbing scrambled boulders for a few hours.

  15. says

    Wow – I’ve never tried scrambling before. It looks dangerous, no? Without all the equipment etc… how do you make sure you don’t slip? Do you wear special shoes?

    We’ll have to put this on our list of “must try” experiences! Thank you for sharing!

  16. says

    I know you’re going to have such a good visit when you get home!

    I didn’t know what a scramble was but it does sound like fun. I haven’t been to this part of the which is a real shame considering how close I really am.

  17. says

    Congrats on your upcoming wedding.

    I lived in Banff back in the 1970’s (doesn’t that date me just a little…..haha) I did a lot of mountain hiking. Back then I probably would have done the scramble, but not now. I’ll take your word that it’s fun :)

    Enjoy that cup of Timmy’s when you get off the plane!

    Love the photo.

  18. Evan Griffin says

    I have never tried hiking. I am afraid of height. But I am willing to conquer that fear just to try hiking. Thanks for the idea.

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