The Best Fall Hiking Near Calgary
September and October are lovely months in Calgary and the Rocky Mountains- days are typically warm and sunny, and evenings crisp and cool. The few weeks of bright yellow trees are stunning, and a well kept secret in the mountains is the changing of the larch trees, from their summer green to a vibrant, fiery orange and yellow. They are any photographers dream come true, with ample photo opportunities to catch the spectacular color against a backdrop of a perfect blue sky and snow capped mountains.
Here are our picks for 3 of the best places to hike and enjoy the larch season.
- Sunshine Meadows
From the parking lot of Sunshine Village, a shuttle takes you up to the ski hill village base, where 12 km of trails are easily accessible, offering incredible views of the valley, mountains, lakes, and best of all, this is a very family friendly option. Check out their website for shuttle times and bookings at http://sunshinemeadowsbanff.com/sunshine_meadows/shuttle.htm
- Larch Valley, Lake Louise
This is an extremely popular option, and we recommend going mid week, as during weekends the road is sometimes closed due to too many people! The trail starts at Moraine Lake and is well signed. You’ll gain 360 metres of elevation gain in 2.6 kilometres to reach the valley. The views are well worth it, and as it’s not just people that enjoy the fall, but also some of the local wildlife, it’s best to hike this one in groups of 4 or more. The views of the Ten Peaks surrounding Larch Valley are stunning from the first meadow, definitely bring a camera or smart phone to capture the moment!
- Chester Lake, Kananaskis
For a hike a little closer to Calgary, this one is about an hours drive. It is accessible either from Canmore via Spray Lakes or from Peter Lougheed Park. The hike takes you up a climb through the forest, into open meadows and ending at a lake that has a dramatic backdrop of a cliff coming down from the mountains, and the fall colors are quite amazing. The hike is approx. 9km return and elevation gain of 300 meters.