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Hiking in the Crowsnest Pass

Blog by john redekopp | June 14th, 2018

Hiking in Crowsnest Pass

Hop in the car, and head to Crowsnest Pass for the weekend to enjoy breathtaking mountain scenery, rustic downtown cores and a hiker's paradise. Only a short 2 hour drive from Calgary, Crowsnest Pass is the perfect location to get away from the busy city streets and find yourself at ease, breathing in the mountain air. Crowsnest Pass is a hiker's hidden gem, waiting for you to discover all that exists!

The best way to find your way to trail heads and trail information is to download the free app, Trailforks, to your smartphone. The hiking trails below can be found on Trailforks (highlighted in purple in the app). Once downloaded, be sure to download Alberta, found in the Settings Tab. Wait for the blue dot to show you where you’re standing. You will not use any data once the App is downloaded.

Bluebird day on top of top of the iconic Crowsnest Mountain

I have lived in Crowsnest Pass for 14 years and spent a lot of my free time in the spring/summer months hiking and exploring the land I call home. Some of my favourite hikes include:

1. Turtle Mountain


Elevation Gain: 925 m

Distance: 6.9 KM

It’s one thing to see 82 million tons of rock piled up at the foot of a mountain. It’s quite another to hike the mountain that it all toppled from resulting in Canada’s deadliest rock slide! Hiking up the west side of Turtle Mountain is a very unique experience, and one a hiker will not soon forget!

The town of Frank endured Canada's Deadliest Rockslide. On April 29, 1903, 110 million tonnes of limestone crashed from the summit of Turtle Mountain and buried part of the sleeping town of Frank. The rock mass that fell was 150 metres deep, 425 metres high and one kilometre wide. The bustling town of Frank was home to approximately 600 people in 1903. Most of the roughly 110 individuals who lived in the path of the slide perished. The primary cause of the Frank Slide was the mountain’s unstable geological structure. Underground coal mining, water action in summit cracks and unusual weather conditions also contributed to the disaster (Travel Alberta).

The rock likely moved as a dense, fast- flowing liquid, covering three square kilometres of the valley in 90 seconds. The debris averages 14 metres in depth, but in some areas, it is up to 45 metres deep.

The trail is a moderately steep ridge walk along the west spine of the mountain. A well-worn trail proceeds to the first summit. The second requires some down scrambling before ascending again. The area burned by the Lost Creek Fire of 2003 is evident along the west face of Turtle Mt. Impressive views of the Prairies to the east, the Livingstone Range and Crowsnest Mt. to the North and West.

Return the way you came...

2. Window Mountain Lake

Difficulty: Easy

Distance:4.4 round trip

Elevation gain: 218 m

Window Mountain Lake is a local’s favourite. The pretty, alpine lake is accessed via Alison Creek Road and offers great fishing and views. There’s a small island near shore that is fun to explore and enjoy a nice packed lunch. Remember the hiker's rule: leave no trace.

If you are feeling adventurous, you can explore further to the scramble to the top of Mount Ward (adds about 1.6 km one way and 470 m elevation gain). Access to this spot is tricky, so hop on the Trailforks App to navigate!

3. Star Creek Falls Loop

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 1.6 km loop

Elevation gain: 114 m

Star Creek Falls is a hidden gem in West Coleman. On this short hike, you will come across 2 scenic bridges, two viewpoints of the falls, and a 75-metre deep canyon. Pack the cooler, and head out with the family for a short hike and a picnic!

Family fun on the Miners Walk

4. Crowsnest Mountain

Difficulty: Difficult

Distance: 10.8 km return

Elevation gain:  1100 m

The legendary peak of Crowsnest Mountain is known locally as ”The Crow”. Visible throughout the Crowsnest Pass, this distinctive mountain offers fun, but challenging scrambling, and amazing views of the Seven Sisters. Route finding and intermediate scrambling skills are required for you to conquer this mountain.

5. Miner's Walk

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 2 km

Miner's Hike to the falls is an easy walk for all ages through light bush and some of the oldest trees in the Crowsnest Pass. The Miner's Path was the historic route taken by Coleman miners on their way to work at the McGillivray Mine between 1909 and 1957. Up to 200 miners on each shift would walk the trail in every season. This easy, pleasant trail begins at Flumerfelt Park in Coleman and follows Nez Perce Creek for 1 KM to Rainbow falls.

If you have any further questions about hiking in the area of Crowsnest Pass, please send me an email or message me on Facebook. I would love to help answer any questions, and make your experience in Crowsnest Pass, a great one! Happy Trails!

* If you want some post-hike grub, check out my blog: Where to Eat in Crowsnest Pass!

This photo was taken on the way to the Livingston Range Raptor Migration Viewpoint. Listed on Trailforks.