It just takes a bit of exploration for a big payoff on the Troll Falls trail, which makes this all-season spectacle one of the best hikes in Kananaskis Country for families. And yes, you might even spot some trolls.
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A great option for all ages (it’s dog-friendly, too) a mostly-flat pathway with mild elevation leads to a set of towering waterfalls, which are a gushing cascade in summer that turn into sparkling, frozen falls during the cold winter months.
How to get to the Troll Falls trailhead
The Troll Falls trailhead is located near the Nakiska Ski Area in Kananaskis, about a 75 minute drive west of Calgary. The Stoney Trail Head parking lot is just off Highway 40.
The designated parking lot often gets busy, so try to arrive early in the day to beat the crowds. Otherwise, overflow parking is available at Kovach Pond, and there’s a 0.9 km connector trail around the pond that links up with the Troll Falls parking lot and trailhead.
What to pack for the Troll Falls trail
It’s critical to be prepared before heading out on any of the Alberta winter hikes, because despite what the forecast says things can change in an instant. If you’re heading out to Troll Falls in the colder months, wear layers, pack Hand Warmers or Toe Warmers to stay toasty on colder days, and bring ice cleats if you want to walk around on the frozen waterfall.
The Troll Falls hike
The hike is just 3.4 kilometres out and back with only a 150 metre elevation gain, which takes about 90 minutes round trip with photo stops. The trail is usually hard packed so most strollers can get through, and while some people bring snowshoes or ice cleats in the winter months they’re not usually required to navigate the path.
Be sure to keep an eye out along the trail, for a chance sighting of trolls! Locals sometimes hide the colourful toys along the path, and kids get a kick out of tracking them down.
To get to Troll Falls, follow the short trail through an evergreen forest and enjoy views of Marmot Creek and the mountain vistas. You’ll hear the waterfall before seeing it, and soon enough you’ll see it cascading out of a rocky crevasse.
In the winter time you can walk right behind the frozen falls, which makes for some amazing photo ops.
While most are content to play at the base of the falls and end the hike there before turning around, there are a few more falls behind it worth exploring. There’s a pathway to the Upper Falls, and while it’s been marked by Alberta Parks it’s not maintained so explore at your own risk. You can either head back the same way, or take the Hay Meadows Loop back which adds only a bit of extra distance and allows hikers to see the Kananaskis River.
With its easy accessibility, mountain vistas and picturesque waterfalls, it’s easy to see why Troll Falls is one of the best winter hiking trails near Calgary.
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