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Student-friendly hiking trails in and around Calgary 

By Nazeefa Ahmed, June 9 2024—

After spending the year in hibernation, in and out of the Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL), a summer outdoors is just what you need to find yourself again. Hiking with friends is a fun, cost-effective and healthy way to bond while enjoying the outdoors. Know what you are comfortable with, pack the essentials and brave the wilderness this season with open arms. 

Glenmore Reservoir Loop 

Enjoy a short morning hike that is in Calgary and transit-accessible, taking an average of three hours to complete. The trail contains fields, forested areas and has multiple points of access to the Elbow River. Parts of the trail are split so hikers and bikers can take the same route but be on different paths to avoid disruptions. Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash. 

East Nose Hill Loop

Beginning at an Edgemont parking lot, this trail provides breathtaking views of the Calgary skyline. The 12.2 km hike is slightly challenging as the elevation increases by 252 m, so those with pre-existing medical conditions should be cautious before hiking this trail. You may see deer or coyotes in the area — if you do, never run away. Always make yourself look bigger and stand your ground. 

Rawson Lake Trail 

Located in Kananaskis, about an hour away from Calgary, is an 11.4 km out-and-back trail that promises stunning views of the Rockies and Rawson Lake. This trail is slightly more challenging, rising to an elevation of 900 m and having steep sections near the ridge. However, since this trail is in Kananaskis Country a park pass is needed for your vehicle — day passes are $15 while season passes are $90, registering up to three vehicles. 

Johnston Canyon

This short, two-hour hike can be a part of your yearly trip to Banff National Park. However, to protect a critical nesting habitat for endangered species, off-trail access is prohibited to hikers, meaning that groups must stay on the trail at all times to avoid being charged. There are also elk in the area so hikers should be vigilant to avoid running into one. This hike is great for a beginner who wants to be around people in nature to feel safe. 

Upper Kananaskis Lake 

A little snow shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the breath-taking beauty of Kananaskis Lake. The 15.6 km hike takes approximately four hours to complete, with forested, rocky and flat areas for a diverse terrain to explore. This area is known to have grizzly bears and moose, so be sure to bring bear spray and make noise on the trail to avoid running into any wildlife. 

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