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8 of the Best Places to Snowshoe in Alberta

There’s nothing like big dumps of snow in the mountains to get you motivated to get outside. Especially in Alberta on days when you have the magic combo of blue skies with awe-inspiring mountain scenery.

8 of the best places to snowshoe in Alberta

Need some suggestions on where to go snowshoeing in Alberta? Here are eight outings that will put a smile on your face.

Medicine Lake – Watchtower Canyon, Jasper National Park

Medicine Lake is a very popular snowshoeing destination out of Jasper, especially since it’s only a 25 minute drive away. What is less well-known is the tour up to Watchtower Canyon. It’s accessed via a narrow opening about a kilometre up from the parking lot on the west side of Medicine Lake. I did this outing with a guide from Canadian Skyline Adventures. Otherwise, I never would have found it.

It’s an easy climb up through the canyon. The only thing you want to avoid is stepping into the stream. The further you snowshoe, the prettier it gets, especially as the canyon walls close in. You could easily do this tour in two hours. We took three hours but moved at a leisurely pace with a stop for hot chocolate.

Read about my full experience here.

7 of the BEST PLACES TO SNOWSHOE in ALBERTA

Snowshoeing up Watchtower Canyon, Jasper National Park

Sunshine Village Signature Snowshoe Experience, Banff National Park

This snowshoeing tour is short but it sure is sweet. The experience starts with a ride up the Standish Chairlift at Sunshine Village Ski Resort. From there you head off looking for fun – snowshoeing up and down hills and through a meadow or two. Throw in a little cliff jumping – just for fun. On clear days you can see Mount Assiniboine but even on snowy, low visibility days it’s a pretty winter wonderland.

There’s a bonus at the end of this one – cheese fondue in the Sunshine Mountain Lodge. Now that’s what I call a great way to end a winter outing.

You can read the full blog post here.

7 of the BEST PLACES to SNOWSHOE in ALBERTA'S MOUNTAINS

Snowshoeing near Sunshine Village Ski Resort

The Ink Pots, Banff National Park

If you’ve got energy to burn, do the 12 kilometre return snowshoe trip to the Ink Pots via Moose Meadow. With only 220 metres of elevation gain you shouldn’t be breathing too hard. Much of the trail is through the trees and viewless. But when you do get to the Ink Pots – seven, crystal-clear aquamarine pools of spring water – you’ll get some views. Keeners may want to explore some of the meadow though most people turn around here and make a swift descent back to the parking lot.

The trail is close to Johnstone Canyon – where you can do a very beautiful icewalk in winter; if you’re pressed for time you can knock it off in 90 minutes. 

The complete post about the Inkpots is here.

Snowshoeing up to the Ink Pots near Johnston Canyon

Snowshoeing up to the Ink Pots near Johnston Canyon

Lake Agnes, Banff National Park

Super popular as a day-hike in summer – largely because there’s a teahouse beside a beautiful turquoise coloured lake, Lake Agnes also makes a wonderful winter destination on snowshoes; if the trail has been packed you can even walk it. Over 8 kilometres roundtrip you climb 396 metres (1,300 feet) – enough that you feel like you’ve had a workout if you move at a good pace.

The trail starts beside Lake Louise – a bonus in itself and climbs through the trees. Lots of first-class mountain views along the way keep it interesting. After Mirror Lake there is a section that crosses avalanche terrain. As one reader pointed out – that is considered by Banff National Park to be Challenging Class 2 terrain for avalanche exposure and requires appropriate training and equipment.

Please Note: I have done this trail in the winter – and indeed it is very popular; but on many days it is not prudent to cross the slope where there is a possibility of avalanche risk without the proper equipment (shovels and transceivers). But you can snowshoe up to that point – and you still get great views and a workout. If you do continue there is another short section of steep stairs where you should remove your snowshoes just before you reach the lake.

Read: Snowshoeing to Lake Agnes Teahouse Above Lake Louise

Fantastic scenery snowshoeing up to Lake Agnes above Lake Louise

Fantastic scenery snowshoeing up to Lake Agnes above Lake Louise

Chester Lake, Kananaskis Provincial Park

Super popular, Chester Lake makes a fine, winter destination on snowshoes. The trailhead is located in Kananaskis Country off the Spray Lakes Road where there’s a giant parking lot. It’ll be busy unless you can make it on a weekday. The trail is initially very steep but once you reach the first meadow, the trail moderates considerably. All around you are stupendous mountain views.

Its five kilometres one way to reach Chester Lake. If you have the time make the short side trip to Elephant Rocks – giant sized boulders strewn helter-skelter that are fun to snowshoe around.

Read the full account here.

7 of the best snowshoeing trips in the Alberta mountains

On the way up to Chester Lake

Rummel Lake, Kananaskis Country

Don’t expect much in the way of signage on this outstanding snowshoe tour. Even the trailhead at the intersection of Spray Lakes Road and Mount Shark Road isn’t well-marked. If it hasn’t snowed recently, you’ll have no problem with route finding. But if you’re the first one out after a big dump, make sure you carry a map. Basically you climb up old logging roads with great views of the Spray Lakes Reservoir and then make your way through the woods until you reach Rummel Lake. You climb about 400 metres to the lake so the descent is swift.

Read: Superb Snowshoeing to Mountain Lakes in Kananaskis Country

It snows a lot around Rummel Lake

It snows a lot around Rummel Lake

West Bragg Creek

Less than 10 minutes from the town of Bragg Creek (about 45 minutes from Calgary) are the snowshoeing and cross-country ski trails of the West Bragg Creek system. There are lots of options from the easy 5.5 kilometre Snowshoe Hare Loop to the 10 kilometre Ranger Summit – Strange Brew Loop to the longer Telephone Loop. Pick a trail depending on how much time you have. So far my favourite is the one to Ranger Summit for the vistas it affords of distant Moose Mountain.

We snowshoed one day last year when the thermometer dipped to -20°C. But with the right clothes and a thermos of hot drinks, we had a great time – and there was hardly another soul around.

Read: Snowshoeing in Alberta on a -20C Day

Looking at Moose Mountain from the Ranger Summit Trail in the West Bragg Creek area

Looking at Moose Mountain from the Ranger Summit Trail in the West Bragg Creek area

Elk Island National Park

Offering loads of trail options, Elk Island National Park is a great place to explore on snowshoes. The trails are flatter than most you’ll find in the mountains and there won’t be any in your face mountain scenery. But there will be pretty meadows and aspen groves, as well as the odd small lake or pond. And as a bonus, you might catch sight of some of the woodland bison that call the place home.

Read: Bison & Snowshoes – A Winter Combo in Elk Island National Park

Snowshoeing in Elk Island National Park

Snowshoeing in Elk Island National Park

Where is your favourite place to go snowshoeing in Alberta?

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure – & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project – a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 11 Comments

  • Andra says:

    With regards to snowshoeing to Lake Agnes, Parks Canada has this notice on their website about the avalanche risk:

    *18) Mirror Lake via Lake Agnes hiking trail: 5.4 km return, 295 m elevation gain
    From the Chateau Lake Louise, follow the main Lake Agnes trail as it rises through the forest. Sections of this portion of the trail cross avalanche terrain. Avalanche risk: Beyond Mirror Lake, the trail is rated as Challenging Class 2 terrain for avalanche exposure and travel requires appropriate training and equipment.

    • @Andra That is a very good point. When the trail is so well used one tends to forget there is avalanche risk, especially after a big snowfall. I updated the post to reflect your point. Fortunately you can still do a good portion of the trail without any avalanche risk. I think signage would be helpful – and perhaps it’s there now but it wasn’t when I did it. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  • Travelscamming says:

    These all look great. I don’t like to ski, but I love snowshoeing . So peaceful and great exercise!

  • Claudia says:

    Love walking and snowshoeing on the winter trails. So good for the spirit! Will have to get out to Alberta soon.

  • Jaillan Yehia says:

    I feel like every time I read your site my Canadian must do list just expands more – this will be my 3rd winter in Canada and I still haven’t been snow shoeing yet, and it looks like such a beautiful way to enjoy the nature for a non-skier like me!

  • Reetta says:

    Great article! I’m looking forward to my first winter experience in the Canadian Rockies next March, so these tips will come handy! I’m travelling over all the way from Finland just to do snowshoeing trips in the mountains. Can’t wait!

  • Mandy says:

    Did Chickadee Valley yesterday, as per your recent blog post about this area = WOWZA! Also love Hogarth Lake Loop, right across the road from Chester Lake. Short but sweet and great for beginners or kids. There are a couple of cool geocaches along the trail.

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