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Author: Travel Alberta

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Jonathan Sinclair @sinclair_photo

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Epic scenery awaits your discovery in Alberta’s protected parks. To help inspire your next hiking adventure, we’ve created photo journals on Instagram for some of our most popular trails. Follow in the footsteps of our favourite photographers on @InstaHikes as they explore frozen canyons, walk through wildflower meadows, trek across glacial moraines and hike some of our highest mountain passes.

We’d love share in your adventures as well, so be sure to use the hashtag #explorealberta on all of the photos you post. And, while our hikes are certainly out of this world amazing, there’s so much more to explore in Alberta. Check out our @TravelAlberta Instagram account for some of the highlights.

Johnston Canyon

Location: Banff National Park
Length: 2.6 km (1.6 mi) round trip
Elevation Gain: 120 m (394 ft)
Duration: 2 hours
Rating: Easy
Directions: Drive 22 km (13.7 mi) west of Banff along the Bow Valley Parkway.

This amazing canyon, just 30 minutes from the town of Banff near Lake Louise, is one of the area’s most popular winter hikes. The well-groomed trail includes a series of breathtaking catwalks high above the deep blue waterway below. Steep limestone cliffs, thousands of icicles and sparkling frozen waterfalls are some of the highlights you’ll see in this winter wonderland. Ice cleats are a must for the hike to the Upper Falls, as the trail can be very slippery.

Larch Valley

Location: Banff National Park
Length: 8.6 km (5.3 mi) round trip
Elevation Gain: 535 m (1,755 ft)
Duration: 3.5-4 hours
Rating: Medium
Directions: From Main Street (Village Rd) Lake Louise, travel west along Louise Drive. Near the Fairview Day Use Area turn left onto Moraine Lake Road.

The hike to Larch Valley begins at the impossibly turquoise Moraine Lake. From the Lakeshore Trail you’ll climb a series of switchbacks, moving through dense forest to reach the subalpine meadow in Larch Valley. It’s a steady ascent with impressive views along the way. In autumn the soft needles of the larch tree turn from bright green to brilliant yellow and burnished copper. Summer is equally stunning with thousands of colourful wildflowers carpeting the meadow.

Cavell Meadows

Location: Jasper National Park
Length: 6-7 km (3.7-4.4 mi) round trip
Elevation Gain: 500 m (1,214 ft)
Duration: 3-5 hours
Rating: Difficult
Directions: Drive south from Jasper on the Icefields Parkway (Hwy 93), past the park gate and turn right on Hwy 93a. Follow the road for 5.5 km (3.4 mi) and turn right on Edith Cavell Rd. Drive 15 km (9.3 mi) to the parking lot at the end of the road.

Hike through wildflower meadows and centuries-old subalpine forest before making the trek across glacial moraine. Throughout the climb, a series of switchbacks along the trail offers beautiful panoramas of Mount Edith Cavell – the area’s highest peak. Hike to the cairn on the scenic ridge for impressive views of the iconic Angel Glacier. Remember to bring warm clothes, as the temperature here is much cooler than in the Jasper Valley.

Sulphur Skyline

Location: Jasper National Park
Length: 8 km (5 mi) round trip
Elevation Gain: 700 m (2,297 ft)
Duration: 4-6 hours
Rating: Medium
Directions: From Edmonton, follow the Yellowhead (Hwy 16) to Jasper National Park. Inside the park, drive for 7 km (4.3 mi) and turn left (south) at the sign for Miette Hot Springs. Follow Miette Hot Springs Rd 16.9 km (10.5 mi) to the parking lot for the springs. To the right of the pools you’ll find the trailhead marker, heading east.

A tree lined paved trail gives way to a series of switchbacks that open up to fantastic view corridors. You’ll soon see Miette Hot Springs below you and the breadth of Fiddle River Valley.  Well above the tree line at the summit, you can see Miette Range, Utopia Mountain and Ashlar Ridge. The local golden-mantled ground squirrels can be quite cheeky so keep your lunch and snacks close. Before heading out, check the weather forecast and dress appropriately as afternoon thundershowers are a common occurrence in the area.

Maligne Canyon

Location: Jasper National Park
Length: 7.4 km (4.6 mi) round trip
Elevation Gain: 110 m (361 ft)
Duration: 4 hours
Rating: Easy
Directions: Follow Hwy 16 towards Edmonton. Drive 1.8 km (1.1 mi) past the east Jasper exit to Maligne Lake Rd. Drive 2.1 km (1.3 mi) and turn left at the Sixth Bridge sign.

Considered to be one of the most picturesque and unique canyons in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Canyon is definitely a must-see natural attraction in Jasper National Park. You’ll cross six bridges as you make your way through a lodgepole pine forest, past unique rock formations and cascading waterfalls. Take time to stop at the lookout points for dramatic views of the river rushing far below. Bring your camera – the beauty of the canyon draws photographers from around the world.

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