Fitness off the map

With winter around the corner, fall is a great time to sneak in some hiking before the snow falls. As a SAIT student, you might think you don’t have the time or the means to   hit the hiking trail.
But you’d be surprised how many hikes – of varying difficulty levels – there are within driving distance that you only need a day or even a few days to complete.
To ease you in, I’ve compiled some of my favourite hikes available to those who want to take your fitness plan outside, and maybe even conquer a mountain in your spare time.

Hike #1
Upper Kananaskis Lake

Length: 4-6 hours, 15-km roundtrip (Parks Canada)
Difficulty: Easy
Description: Hiking 15-km may seem daunting, but the flat path and panoramic view make this hike worth the trek. As the lake is a large water source for animals, keep an eye out for wildlife. When you’re not in awe of the mountainscape, count how many different creatures you can see as you circle around the lake.

Hike #2
Elbow Lake

Length: 1-2 hour(s), 3-km roundtrip (Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies)
Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate
Description: Although this hike is short, it’s all uphill until you reach the lake. Make sure to take your time and appreciate the nature around you. With a mountain view and nearby firepits, Elbow Lake is the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Become a part of nature by visiting the outhouses, which turn waste into nutrients for the soil.

Hike #3:
Bourgeau Lake

Length: 5-6 hours, 7-km roundtrip (Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies)
Difficulty: Intermediate
Description: Near Banff, this hike is a challenge with steep switchbacks dominating the trail. Make sure to take several hydration breaks. Don’t be discouraged because when the trail eventually levels out it leads to a stunning lake surrounded by mountains. Stop for lunch and make sure to climb the 20-foot high boulder before heading back down.

Hike #4
Nihahi Ridge

Length: 4-5 hours, 10-km roundtrip (Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies)
Difficulty: Hard
Description: This hike is one that will challenge experienced hikers. The entire way up is an incredibly steep incline. With time, you’ll reach a huge open meadow with a mountain scene perfect for an afternoon nap. For those who want to climb a mountain, keep hiking up the trail to the top where you’ll be able to see the entire mountain valley. Make sure to take some epic photos before heading home.

Hike #5
Burstall Pass

Length: 5-7 hours, 15-km roundtrip (Where Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies)
Difficulty: Easy
Description: Located outside of Canmore, this trail is a little hilly but eventually leads to a massive valley previously hidden by the mountains. It’s a great place to stop for lunch. Watch out for the shallow streams as this is a main area for mountain run-off. For those wanting to make it to the pass, keep hiking until you reach a view overlooking Spray Valley.
One last word of advice, keep your bag light and make sure to tell someone where you’re going. If you need incentive to communicate your whereabouts, just watch the film 127 Hours.

Gear Up For Your Next Day Hike

  • Backpack
  • Hiking boots
  • Water bottle
  • Bandana/hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Breathable clothes
  • Lunch
  • Binoculars
  • Warm clothing
  • Snacks
  • Emergency
  • survial kit
  • (First aid kit, light source, emergency blanket, compass)
  • Bear spray
  • Rope
  • Hiking poles
  • Extra socks
  • Mountaineering axe
  • Knife
  • Water purification tablets
  • Camera
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