Autumn is both a beautiful season of transformation and a wonderful time to travel. September, October, and November are considered off-season months in many places that feature lower prices, crisp fall weather, and trees that truly shine with their autumnal foliage. Fall is one of my favorite times to sneak away for a short trip to find some local zen. The following are some off-the-beaten-path gems where you can enjoy all the best that fall has to offer without the crowds.
Another summer hiking season has come and gone in Alberta but fall offers up one last chance to experience the Canadian Rockies in their full golden splendour. The locals call this time “Larch Madness.” We always make a point to end our hiking season on this exceptionally high note and have a few recommendations for the best hikes for a range of abilities to see the golden larch trees in the fall!
Over the next couple of weeks the larch trees that line the mountainsides in Kananaskis and Banff turn a beautiful golden colour. They stand out amidst the evergreens and shine against the bright blue sky and granite peaks lightly dusted with snow. This special time of year only lasts a couple of weeks and is certainly a rewarding way to end your hiking season.
With so many stunning trails and views picking a highlight of Jasper National Park can be a challenge, but hiking in the Tonquin Valley must be a contender. The combination of sky high views of the rugged “Ramparts” range jutting up from serene alpine lakes, and the chance to see rare wild mountain caribou make it as worthy a destination as any. It is also an accessible backcountry trail that can cater to many ability levels and even be trekked on horseback. Considering all these factors, it’s easy to see why the Tonquin Valley is a popular area for locals and tourists alike. But it just may be getting a little too popular for its own good.
Few trails in the Alberta Rockies are as challenging but immensely rewarding as the Northover Ridge hike. Deep in the heart of Kananaskis Country (a series of provincial parks that are closer to Calgary and less busy than Banff National Park), Northover Ridge is a 36km loop that takes the average hiker about 3 days. The trail straddles the continental divide between Alberta and British Columbia and is a considered a very challenging trip due to a narrow ridgewalk and the need for advanced routefinding skills as we learned all too clearly (more on that later). Despite these challenges, it’s path through meandering wilderness, breathtaking views, and exhilarating climax atop the ridge adds to its reputation as one of the best backpacking trips in Alberta. To that end, opinionated experts such as the Copelands who wrote Don’t Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies, give it such a resounding recommendation that we knew that it had to be part of our Alberta Bucketlist. Continue reading “Backcountry Zen: The Northover Ridge Hike”
Great for beginners and experienced hikers alike, the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park is one of the premier hikes in Western Canada. Few trails deliver multiple waterfalls, expansive mountain vistas, and up close views of majestic glaciers all along one incredible route. The trail begins near the town of Field, in British Columbia and the extra hour of driving from Banff allows you to get away from the crowds. Yoho is generally more peaceful than its more famous neighbour and the scenery is equally stunning. The hike follows remnants of the Emerald Glacier and with the majority of it is above treeline you’ll be treated to stupendous views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. For these reasons and its easy accessibility from Calgary we figured this gem was deserving of a place on our 2017 Alberta Bucketlist despite being in British Columbia. Continue reading “Hiking the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park”
While Alberta is famous for it’s Rocky Mountain vistas, paddling the Milk River is a lesser known but quintessential Albertan activity. The southern badlands that the Milk River carves through form a unique landscape and a beautiful sight to behold, especially from the water.
The Milk River was named by Lewis and Clark who thought that the water resembled the colour of a teaspoon of milk dissolved in a cup of tea. The river begins in Montana, flows into southern Alberta along the town of Milk River and Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park, and then carves southward to Montana through the Sweetgrass Hills before eventually joining the Mississippi watershed, making it one of the only rivers in Canada to do so.
What’s new at Zen Travellers? We’re fortunate to live in a place that offers no shortage of exhilarating views and epic adventures. We’ve put together an Alberta summer bucketlist because we know that travelling through Alberta in winter may not be everyone’s cup of tea and Alberta’s summers are short but truly spectacular. It can take what feels like an eternity for the snow to leave the mountains, but once it does, the Rockies reveal their true splendour.