Hiking in the Canadian Rockies
Many books have been written about hiking in the Canadian Rockies, particularly in Alberta and eastern British Columbia (technically the "Rocky Mountains" don't extend that far). This book is an attempt to organise and describe hikes in and around the Canadian Rockies, using other books only for specific and non-copyrighted information (i.e. Trail length, altitude, etc.) It will be primarily organised by area and then difficulty, so that one who wants to find one's self a hike one can do so with ease.
How to use this book
This book is for anyone wanting to hike in the Canadian Rockies. Use the list below to sort first by day hike and overnight, then by area, then difficulty. I will eventually make an index of all the hikes. Also, all hikes i have done personally will be marked at the beginning of the description with a PD (personal description)
Please bear in mind that all hikes will doable without climbing equipment. Some scrambling may be required at certain times for the more advanced hikes.
Hikes will be rated in 4 major categories:
- Beginner - the mildest of hikes
- Intermediate - not particularly difficult, but more than a walk in the park.
- Advanced - These are the most difficult of hikes that don't include mountains.
- Mountain - These all involve conquering mountains, but because some are easier than others, they will be sub-rated Beginner, intermediate and advanced. NOTE: a beginner mountain is NOT a beginner hike. The easiest mountain is at the least an intermediate hike.
If you are a new hiker, and are unsure of what to do or take along, read on. If you have experience in hiking, and are using this book only for new hikes, then you can ignore this section. (NOTE: this applies mostly to day hiking. for overnight hiking, be sure you have all the proper gear.)
Weather can make or break a hike. Be sure to check local weather forecasts, and pack accordingly. Even if there is the slightest chance of rain, you should bring along rain gear, especially if you're planning a longer hike. Don't climb mountains in a thunderstorm, and be sure that you can get in and out of where you are going, especially in winter. Also, be aware that the higher you go, the colder it gets, no matter the temperature
Clothing usually depends on the weather (see above) but a few staple items are key:
- Sturdy hiking boots - are recommended for all but the easiest of hikes.
- Warm jacket - usually a fleece jacket, cotton not recommended, but it's better than nothing.
- Windbreaker - this is only really necessary if you are going up high where there is a lot of wind exposure.
- Hat - sun hat for sun, toque or some other warm hat for winter and cold conditions (up high)
- Sunglasses - even if it's overcast it's always good to have these along. Especially if there's snow around.
- Gloves - only when it's cold, highly recommended in the winter.
- Daypack - for all your stuff!
It is always a wise idea to take along food to eat, just make sure you pack all garbage with you. Always, ALWAYS bring water along. Although some fresh springs and glacier runoff may be clean enough to drink, rivers can contain bacteria that can make you very sick. Some suggestions for food might include GORP (good old raisins and peanuts) and variations, chocolate, energy bars and fruit (all things with high energy, and relatively low fat).
There is always a chance of meeting an unfriendly animal while hiking in the mountains. In most cases, the best way to prevent this is to stay away from areas marked for recent bear or cougar activity, and to travel in bigger groups (i.e. 6 or more people). Bear spray can be purchased at many stores. Most encounters can be avoided simply by making noise from time to time, calling out every minute or so.
What to do if you encounter a bear/cougar
If you encounter a grizzly bear (big, brown, with hump between the shoulders) stop where you are. Slowly walk backwards until out of sight, then turn and walk (don't run) back the way you came. Notify any hikers you pass of your encounter. If in the rare case that a bear is aggressive and runs at you, do not turn and run. If you don't have pepper spray, lie on your stomach and cover the back of your neck with your hands. The bear will eventually become uninterested and leave.
If you encounter a cougar while hiking, place your backpack or (if you are hiking with children) or your head or shoulders, and make yourself look big. Back away slowly and return the way you came, notifying other hikers you pass. Cougars are generally not aggressive towards humans, and if you make lots of noise they generally will stay away.
Deer, elk, mountain goats and many species of birds and rodent wildlife frequent the Rockies. Although normally docile, males can become aggressive in mating season, and females can become aggressive if you happen between her and her young. Be cautious, but not paranoid. Always give animals distance, and approach cautiously. If the animal refuses to yield to you, it's best to go around.
Insects are always a nuisance. Mosquito repellent is highly recommended (except in the winter months). If you are hiking in areas with ticks, make sure you check yourself after the hike, especially around the sock line, collar and waist. Bees, wasps, and hornets are also sometimes a problem, so be sure to check your sugary beverage before drinking.
If you are planning to bring your dog along, make sure your dog doesn't tend to run after things. There are lots of things to chase in the mountains, including bears. If you trust your dog, then by all means, bring it along, your dog will love the mountains just as much as you!
Ok, now that you are ready to hike, here is the list of hikes. They are organised by area, and then by difficulty. if you are looking for a specific hike, then use the index.