6 Lesser Known Spots to Enjoy the Larches in Kananaskis and Avoid the Crowds!

Are you looking to get away from the crowds and explore the beauty of Kananskis in all its glory this fall? As larches begin to lose their leaves from the middle of September to the end of October, their stunning golden hues make for an invigorating hiking experience. Larch hikes in Kananaskis are popular tourist attractions for the sprawling expanse of new, vivid colours. We’ve picked the six most beautiful, lesser known Kananaskis hikes for you to add to your checklist while missing the biggest crowds.

Note: Check the Trail Report before heading to the valley for the latest updates and information available.

 

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Rummel Lake

Distance
10.3km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
434m

Level
Easy/Moderate

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Moderately trafficked 

A diamond in the rough for larch hikes, Rummel Lake is a moderate Kananaskis hike that navigates woodsy terrain through dense forests, an open meadow, a majestic lake and beautiful larch views. The trailhead starts close to Mount Engadine Lodge or the turnoff from Mount Shark Road where you’ll step into a trail bursting with conifer trees. The purples, pinks and yellows of fall are abundant as you veer left at the first fork in the trail and continue on towards Rummel Creek. Rummel Lake offers a true Kananaskis tour as the trees thin and grant access to views of Commonwealth Peak, Mt. Smuts, Mt. Burstall, The Tower, Mt. Engadine, Mt. Sir Douglas and Old Goat Mountain! 

A bench marks the High Rockies Trail as you make your way through a trail dense with roots. Larch trees frequent the landscape with their medley of colours. Cross Rummel Creek’s wooden bridge for a grandeur view of Rummel Lake’s glassy waters. Rummel Lake is nestled at the foothills of Mount Galatea and surrounded by a peaceful meadow and larch trees at eye level. Remember to wear hiking boots for the heavily rooted trails and be wary of rock fall.

 

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Tryst Lake

Distance
7.2km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
397m

Level
Hard

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Moderately trafficked

Autumn’s crisp weather is perfect for hiking as Larch trees bring an aura of authenticity to Kananaskis. Tryst Lake offers simple navigation to find the golden needles of Larch trees. In the fall Tryst Lake has drained, offering dramatic views of the surrounding mountainscape. Passing Mount Shark Road, turn left after 900 meters into an unmarked parking lot. Following the main trail and turning right at a cairn, larches burst into view as they decorate mountainsides in a gradient of emerald greens and yellows. If you have extra time, explore Tent Ridge! Your destination is at the foot of the Fist where gilded trees circulate the base. 

Piggy Plus Col

Distance
13.1km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
610m

Level
Moderate

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Light-Moderately trafficked

What’s not to love about a hidden Kananaskis hike in between Mt. Burstall and the north ridge of Piggy Plus? Piggy Plus Col’s ridge is dedicated to a groove of larch trees deep in the basin. Standing alongside the rock face, larch trees provide a beautiful contrast to the green of the forest valley. Your pristine autumn hike starts by ascending Burstall Pass as you clear the forest. Under autumn’s serene sky, follow the narrow path in a U-shaped route. Upon spotting two cairns, continue climbing the cliff face as you experience larch trees and an enchanting meadow. Mount Birdwood, Commonwealth Peak, Commonwealth Ridge and Pigstail Peak provide an awe-inspiring backdrop. From the col, hike to Burstall Peak where more larch trees shroud the basin. The summit of Piggy Plus Col offers a majestic view of the French Glacier. Make sure to bring your hiking poles, as sections of this hike involve minor scrambling.

 

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South Mist Hills

Distance
10.9km

Trail type
Loop

Elevation
792m

Level
Hard

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Lightly trafficked

South Mist Hills provides a trilogy of hills nestled within Autumn’s morning mist. Larches are scattered throughout the trail to create an engaging experience. Taking a right on the Mist Ridge Trail, find the first junction and take another right. A steep ascent begins (perfect for burning off those pumpkin spice lattes!) as you make your way to the crest of the east hill. East hill overlooks an ocean of clouds and provides an opportune picnic spot. West hill is visible from the distance, where larch trees make themselves visible. South Mist Hill’s peaceful atmosphere mixed with Autumn’s calming mood is what makes this hard Kananaskis hike so beautiful! 

 

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Mount Sparrow Peak – Read’s Tower

Distance
2.9km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
2581m

Level
Moderate/Hard

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Lightly trafficked 

A unique autumn hiking experience tucked away from Mount Sparrow Peak, Read’s Tower features a larchland gulley. Read’s Tower can be found by navigating Read’s Ridge from the Sparrowhawk parking lot. The forest floor ascends to pristine aerial views of Spray Lakes before arriving at the lower base of Read’s Tower. Instead of continuing your climb to Mount Sparrow Peak, turn left and you’ll spot a vervacious cropping of larch trees. 

 

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Sparrowhawk Tarns

Distance
11.6km

Trail type
Out and back

Elevation
696m

Level
Moderate/Hard

Dogs allowed? On leash

Kid friendly? No 

Busy? Lightly trafficked 

Explore Canada’s Rocky Mountains, meadows, larches and potential wildlife on this quiet, engaging hike. Start the trek by the Smith Dorrien Road, cutting through to the High Rockies Trail where the forest clears for a wide boulder path. Underneath Mount Bogart, Sparrowhawk’s Tarns offer calm blue waters. Stroll through the boulder field, navigate the tarns, find potential herds of sheep and locate the dispersed larch trees standing bright against the rock. This dog-friendly Kananskis hike is great for furry friends as water is abundant for refreshments. 

The famous sights of Kananaskis in fall gently wave goodbye to summer while hinting at winter’s magic. Larches wear their fall colours and make for photo-worthy opportunities to enjoy the crisp mountain air with hikes that may not be as well known, but whose views are just as powerful. Dress warm (it’s autumn in Alberta, after all) and be ready for the feast for the eyes that is larch season in Kananaskis!

Cover photo by: @mesmerize