These Are The 7 Best Spring Hikes In The Rockies

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Spring arrives later in the mountains than the city, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out for some spring hikes! You’ll likely even have the trail to yourself! So here are my recommendations for the 5 best springs hikes in the Rockies.

The best spring hikes in the Rockies can be unpredictable with inclement weather, so always pack extra layers. It’s a good idea to have lots of water, and a solid pair of crampons. By the way, get some real crampons from MEC or Amazon, not a $20 pair from Canadian Tire. I like the Kahtoola MICROspikes.

East End of Rundle

EEOR is a stunning hike in early spring. You’ll need to wait until the snow mostly clears as it’s a high avalanche risk if there’s still snow lingering around near the top. Once the bulk of the snow melts away, there’s lingering ice and snow patches for a long time. This makes having crampons really important. EEOR is a pretty tame scramble/hike in the summer months but it can be really serious if you don’t have to proper equipment.

Conditions will obviously very greatly but it’s a pretty good guess that if most of the snow has just melted, the trail will be really muddy and slippery on the first half of the way up. Once you get close to the ridge the wet mud will turn to ice. Trekking poles are always a good idea.

Prairie Mountain

Prairie mountain is a great all season trail near Calgary. If it’s nice enough on a weekend, the trail tends to get fairly busy by winter or spring standards. If you get out during the week though, you’ll likely be almost completely alone. Prairie is one of those hikes you’ll probably do time and time again. It’s so close to Calgary and the conditions are great practically all year.

I’ve hiked Prairie in February before in a t-shirt and shorts. Still, keep an eye on the weather, even though it’s not a huge mountain, the weather can change fast because of the fact it’s one at the edge of a valley right before the prairies. That makes it high susceptible to extreme winds.

I mentioned I’d hiked prairie mountain in the winter in a t-shirt, but I’ve also hiked the ridge in summer in a 3 layer jacket… All bets are off as far as weather goes!

Ha Ling

Ha Ling can can be one of the best spring hikes in the Rockies, but it really depends on conditions and weather. Ha Ling does have 3 avalanche areas you’ll want to move pretty quickly through. There’s a fairly large avalanche area where the trail runs parallel under the ridge where you don’t want to stop. There’s some clear signage on route.

This one is great for early season especially since they installed the chains and stairs near the peak. It use to be pretty treacherous with the snow and ice before the stairs were erected. I don’t care much for them in the summer but it makes for great winter or spring hiking.

It’s really cool to soak in the views from the summit when you’re up there in the spring time. The mountains surrounding the peak are a bit larger and typically have more snow on them. It makes for some pretty dramatic landscapes.

Heart Mountain

Heart mountain can be all season but also depends on conditions. If it’s a fairly dry winter, you can get out there all year. I prefer waiting to spring though unless it’s really mild. There’s one little scrambly bit near the ridge. I’ve gone up there with medium sized dogs before no problem, but some dog owners might have to turn around depending on their pets’ comfort levels.

Heart is in a pretty windy area which is why you can usually hike it all season long, there’s hardly a chance for the snow to settle before it’s blown off the mountain. The good news is that you can almost always hike it, the bad news is, sometimes you just don’t want to if it’s so windy!

Powder Face Ridge

Powder Face Ridge is close to Prairie Mountain in the Elbow Falls area. The snow can be surprisingly deep compared to it’s neighbouring mountains. Snowshoes are definitely beneficial with really snowy conditions. The views along the trail are pretty tame until you get all the way up to the ridge, however it’s still a very nice hike and the trees do provide shelter from the wind.

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Loader Peak

I was surprised I never hiked Loader Peak sooner! It’s close to Calgary, just past Yumnuska. The face is in direct sun all day so the snow and ice melts off of the mountain really quickly when the warmer weather comes out. The view from the top is stunning, especially in spring with the bow river flowing in the valley below.

There is some route finding, it can be easy to get lost and end up on the climber’s route so pay close attention to where you’re suppose to be. Stay right when in doubt. You will enjoy a few “hands on” bits near the top but nothing with any real consequence. I’ve never been up there with my dog, and honestly, I probably wouldn’t bother on this one. It’s a little steep coming back down.

Yamnuska

This one can be kind of tricky with timing because the south face can literally be bone dry and the south side where the trail is can still be under 10 feet of snow. I’d wait until you know without a doubt that conditions are good. If conditions are right, Yamnuska could be one of the best spring hikes in the Rockies. The south side can look completely different year after year so look at some trail reports and know what you’re getting yourself into.

Yamnuska has some serious consequence if it’s still too icy up high. Crampons are a must in the spring but if you can this mountain too early into the spring season you’ll quickly see that it’s more of a mountaineering objective than it is a hike.

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