Already popular, cross-country skiing is even more so, as costs of lift tickets are increasing as well as gas. A day trip to a popular ski area such as Lake Louise can easily cost $100.
There are many groomed cross-country trails in Kananaskis, as well as an opportunity for some spectacular backcountry skiing. Of course, if you decide to do backcountry, make sure you take all the safety precautions, as there is the danger of getting caught in an avalanche. Check at the nearest information centre for avalanche updates.
The most popular areas for cross-country are: Shark Mountain, Ribbon Creek,Boulton Creek, and West Bragg Creek. If you are an advanced skier, The Canmore Nordic Centre was built as a venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics and has some very challenging trails as it remains a world-class training facility.
Fishing is excellent in Kananaskis. Most of the lakes are stocked, and the types of fish available are: trout, char, arctic grayling, and whitefish. Fishing licenses can be purchased at Fortress Junction in Kananaskis, and in Calgary. With your license you should receive fishing regulations -- they will specify when you can fish, what size you can keep , and how manyfor all the fishing areas in Kananaskis.
The Bull Trout is an endangered species in Alberta, and it is the only fish you cannot keep. They can be distinguished by having no black markings on their bodies, hence the conservation slogan "No Black, Put it Back". If you are caught with a bull trout, you can be fined hundreds of dollars. Many people practice catch-and-release.
Equipment: Besides having the obvious equipment, make sure you have your fishing license on you at all times, as if you are found without one by a ranger, you will be fined.
Fir Creek Point (moderate) ~ 7km return. Make sure you turn often, admiring the view, as you follow an old pack trail that climbs steadily to a grassy pass. Take an animal trail to an amazing viewpoint, set amongst picturesque limber pines. Go in early to mid July; at that time there will be wildflowers everywhere. You may run into an organized pack horse trip. Resist the urge to ask them give you a ride.
Don't be suprised if you hear "moos" and see cow patties. This area is leased from the government by a rancher.
Equipment: I recommend that you wear hiking boots or something with ankle support as the trail is very rocky and uneven, perhaps due to pack horses. Make sure you take a picnic so that you have something to do while you admire the view.
Kananaskis offers a variety of outdoor acitivities, and in the summer, hiking is the main one. Here are some "must do" hikes. I am rating the difficulty when thinking about the average person in fair physical shape.
Burstall Pass (moderate) ~ 16km return, elevation gain 472m. A nice trail as it has a regular pattern of climbing and levelling out, to give you a break. Takes you up to a view point where you are surrounded by a ampitheatre of mountains. Catch a glimpse of Mt. Assiniboine, known as "Canada's Matterhorn". In one word --Stunning.
Equipment: Need your hiking boots for this one. Best to hike this one in August or Sept, as there is an alluvial flat that can flood very easily, and may leave you stranded. Take a lunch and plenty of water as it will be a day trip.
If you leave the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge and go over to where the softball field is, there is a beaton path that leads up Mount Kidd.
It is a very steep hike!!!!
I remember leaving with two friends with a half a case of beer in my back page being very naieve about how hard it was going to be.
When I got to the top it was the best beer I had tasted in my life I had thought!!!
Be warned hiking up is hard but getting your ass down is even harder!! It's steep and your legs will be killing if your just an enthusiastic amateur like moi :-)
The Kananaskis golf course is well-known for it's scenic beauty. I'm not a golfer, but my friends who are tell me it is a challenging course. Green fees are $75.00
Equipment: If you don't have your own clubs, you can rent them here.
There are many equestrian trails in Kananaskis, if you have your own horse. If you don't, there are outfitters who offer trail rides-- Boundary Ranch and Rafter Six Ranch being the main ones. You can book anywhere from a one-hour trip to a week or more.
Equipment: When you book, the outfitters will specify what you need.
Fortress Mountain is about 90 minutes from Calgary, and it was thought that they would permanently close last year. This was due to many factors-- global warming producing less snow, a general downturn in tourism, and increased costs in maintenance. However, they are open for 2003-2004, and have expanded with 2 new runs. There is also a ski-out lodge. Their lift tickets are affordably priced; an adult day lift ticket being $36.45.
You can hike here in the summer as well.
Built in 1986 specifically for the 1988 Olympics as the olympic alpine events venue, Nakiska offers decent downhill skiiing and snowboarding in Kananaskis. As with many ski resorts, they offer lessons and rentals as well.
You can get overnight packages from the hotels in Kananaskis Village, and there is a ski shuttle for your convenience. It usually opens early December, most of the time later than Lake Louise or Sunshine, as this area tends to get a little less snow.
An adult lift ticket for the day is $45; many people from Calgary like to come here as it's about 40 minutes from the city.
Prairie View ~ (easy-moderate) 7km return. Most of this hike is fairly boring, kind of a slog through forest, but keep telling yourself there's an awesome reward at the end, because there is. The trail climbs slowly up to McConnell Ridge, and near the end you see glimpses of the view to come through the trees. Hike all the way up to a repeater station (it looks like a giant, blank billboard). The view is stunning. To your left, you see sweeping prairie all the way to Calgary, to the right, a bird's eye view of the mountains and Bow Valley.
Equipment: You can do this hike in runners. Layers are a must, as it is quite windy at the viewpoint. Don't forget your camera, like I did.
There is plenty of cycling and mountain biking in Kananaskis.
Mountain biking is allowed on part or all of certain trails; make your inquiries at one of the visitor centres. You can cycle on Highway 40, and there is extensive cycling paths near Kananaskis Village.
What is not well-known is that you can cycle up to and over the Highwood Pass portion of HIghway 40 , which is closed from Dec 31 until June 15 for animal migration. Many people make this an annual outing, usually the weekend before the opening. The grade is pretty steep, and it is about 26 km uphill, to give you an idea. Not easy, but it is rewarding to complete. And, it's fun coasting downhill after you reach the Highwood Pass. If you want to do this, have two vehicles. One you can park at the locked gate where Highway 40 meets the Kananaskis Lakes Trail. The other one, park at the camping/day use area just northeast of HIghwood House, at the southern end of HIghway 40.