Mist Mountain is home to some of the most incredible alpine hot springs in all of the canadian rockies. because It is unusual to find natural hot springs with a view like this, they can get busy during peak times and peak seasons. Keep reading for everything you need to know about mist mountain hot springs, how to get there, and how to AVOID the crowds.
The Mist Mountain Hot Springs Trailhead is located on Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country. If you are coming from the north, it’s about 30 kilometres south of where Highway 742 splits off to Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. If you are making the drive from Calgary, it may actually be quicker to access the trailhead via the south route into Kananaskis Country.
Because most of K-Country has little to no cell service, we would recommend checking on Google Maps before leaving home. Once you arrive, take a look for the most well-traveled path. When we were there, it was marked with a ribbon, but there are no signs to guide you to the trailhead.
TIP: This trail gets BUSY! Especially on weekends. Make sure to go early (we’re talking sunrise, early) or for sunset for a more private experience in the pools.
The Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike
The hike into Mist Mountain Hot Springs is about 6.5 km roundtrip with 555m of elevation gain. It begins with a relatively easy trail through the trees, however quickly starts gaining elevation from there. Once the trail opens up into the sun-soaked valley of wildflowers, you can enjoy the incredible views of the surrounding mountains.
From here the hike begins to get very steep. Poles are definitely recommended as you make your way up to the pass. Luckily, this entire portion of the hike offers magnificent views. If you find yourself in need of something to look at while you take a minute to catch your breath, just turn around!
Once you reach the top of the pass, you will be rewarded with views of the entire valley, Mist Mountain Peak, and the hot springs themselves. From here, it’s about another kilometre traversing along a rocky section of the mountain. It is at this point that you could veer off and climb to the peak of Mist Mountain. It’s another 700m of elevation, however, so no judgment if you politely decline.
Upon arrival, you will be greeted by two small hot pools overlooking a stunning landscape. It’s noteworthy to mention that each pool only holds 3-4 adults comfortably. When we visited, there were several people hanging around the springs waiting to get in. While everyone was really good about taking turns, we would not recommend visiting on a weekend day for this reason.
Tips to Avoid The Crowds
This trail has become very popular over the past few years. If you want to increase your chances of having the hot springs to yourself, either go early in the morning or for sunset on a weekday!
Another great option is to visit between November and June. The weather can be less ideal, but Highway 40 is closed. While it will be more work to get there (you will have to bike from the closure point at Highway 742) you are sure to be rewarded for your extra effort with far fewer people.
If you do happen to arrive at a busy time and aren’t feeling the crowds, continue past the hot spring and around the mountain a few hundred meters. No one goes that way and the views are pure gold! We hung out for about an hour, made some hot chocolate, and enjoyed some peace and quiet after our soak.
Hiking in The Canadian Rockies has become exponentially more popular over the past few years. While I think it’s amazing that more people are getting outside and experiencing all the beauty that our country has to offer, I also wanted to touch on some basic hiking etiquette for this increasingly busy trail.
- Leave no trace. This one is extremely important if we want to keep our parks in their glorious state for years to come. Pack out what you pack in, don’t litter on the trails, and if you see trash along the way… be a doll and pick it up 🙂
- Don’t disturb or feed the wildlife. They need their space, and you need yours, too. Keeping your distance from any wildlife you encounter on the trail is the safest decision for you, them, and future hikers.
- Stay on the trail. I know this one can be tricky, but do your best not to step off the trail unless absolutely necessary. Going off trail can damage the native plant or animal species in the area, affecting the ecosystem more than we know. It’s also good practice to leave any flowers, rocks, or artifacts where you found them for others to enjoy.
- Yield to Ascending Hikers. Hikers coming uphill should always have the right of way. If you’re descending the trail, give the folks coming up some space to get by. I promise you’ll appreciate it when you’re huffing and puffing on the way up, too!
- Be aware of your surroundings. Kananaskis has an increasing bear population which means that it is important to be aware and vigilant on the trails. Some things you can do are hike in a group, make noise while on the trails, carry bear spray, and educate yourself further on bear safety.