This is an amazing day hike in Kananaskis Country about an hour outside of Calgary, Alberta. It follows Ribbon Creek up the mountain until you reach the stunning Ribbon Falls.

Ribbon Creek trail is accessible via Highway 40 at the turn off for Nakiska Mountain Resort. From there take a left at Centennial Drive and then a right onto Ribbon Creek Road. The hike begins at the far end of the Ribbon Creek Trailhead parking lot. There is an old coal mining cart at the start. There is also washrooms available in the parking lot area before you begin.

To begin the hike follow the sign that says "Ribbon Creek Trail". You will follow this trail for the next 10km until you reach Ribbon Falls. The trail follows Ribbon Creek up the mountain to the falls. The trail follows the river bank for the most part, but also goes through the forest. As you make your way to Ribbon Falls there is a few mini waterfalls along the way to stop and admire.

Once you reach the falls you can sit and enjoy your packed lunch. There is also tenting sites available at Ribbon Falls Backcountry Campground close to the falls for those you want to stay the night and tackle the surrounding trails.Firewood is provided at the campground. For the more adventurous hikers you can continue 2km up the mountain to Ribbon Lake. This portion of the hike requires use of the chains bolted into the side of the mountain. Getting to the lake is not recommended during the spring and winter months due to the snow at high elevations.

Snowshoeing in the winter is available as well as mountain biking in the summer. However bikes are only allowed for the first 5.7km of the trail.

I would give yourself about 6 hours to complete the hike, but it is doable in a little less time than that. The roundtrip is 20km, but if you go to Ribbon Lake it is about 22km.

Pack List

For those who are only doing a day hike:

  • Water Bottle
  • Bear Spray
  • Camera
  • Packed LunchFor those staying overnight:
  • Permit Link
  • Tent
  • Water Purification
  • Food (storage lockers available)
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RT Distance 12.4 Miles
Elevation Gain 1148.3 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Snowshoeing, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Picnic Area
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Lovely Waterfall but...

I did this last summer as a day trip. The waterfall was stunning and I would go back however, only if I was spending the night. Totally personal preference though!

Humbling Mountain Views

My GPS showed 11.1km to the Ribbon Falls Campground, and it was just a couple hundred meters before the falls. The campsites are just big enough for a small 3-person backpacking tent. The hike runs through a valley with massive humbling mountains on both sides, and at the campground you're surrounded on 3 sides by peaks.

about 2 years ago

My First Backcountry Camping Experience

Ribbon Falls holds a special place in my heart as my first backcountry camping experience. If a plucky 10 year old carrying a pack twice her size can do it, so can you! Great for beginner hikers and campers. Not sure if they're still there but last time I was up there the campground also provided bear lockers to keep your food and other "smellies" in! I have only been back once since then and did the bike and hike. There are bike racks at the point where you must dismount to lock up on, and a flat area that works well for a lunch break.


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