Hiking to Karst Spring in Kananaskis Country
Canada › Mt. Shark Parking Area
Added by Chase Dekker
- Distance: 6 miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 650 ft.
- Spectacular scenery of the Canadian Rockies
- Quiet hike with very few people
- Fantastic wildlife-viewing opportunities
- Well maintained and clearly marked trail
Every year, over 5 million visitors make their way through Banff National Park to soak in the surrounding peaks, bountiful wildlife, and turquoise-colored lakes. With this many visitors, it's hard to find yourself alone, especially during the peak seasons of summer and fall. Right next door to Banff National Park, however, is a beautiful little secret: Kananaskis Country.
Kananaskis Country lies just south of the town of Canmore, and just 5 miles away from the town of Banff and the National Park, itself. Kananaskis Country is known for it's untouched valleys that are home to wolves, grizzly bears, and a moose population larger than that of Banff National Park. Find yourself in complete solitude and get acquainted with the area along the Karst Spring Trail.
The first 1.5 miles of this hike travels through an open meadow with views of the surrounding peaks. When you arrive at the T-intersection, turn left to head downhill to Watridge Lake, a good location for trout fishing. From the lake, follow the trail towards Karst Spring, about 0.6 mile from the away, following the sound of the water's roar.
As you continue towards the spring, you will pass a beautiful creek that is generally high-volume due to snow-melt. The spring will be just ahead, with a well-maintained viewing platform and an information sign.
Karst Spring bursts out of a rock face, draining from passageways between limestone layers of Shark Ridge and creating a karst formation. Snow and rainwater seep into cracks and dissolve the rock, creating tunnels from which streams begin.
Getting there: Drive 24 miles south of Canmore on Highway 742 (Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail) and turn right at Mt. Engadine Lodge Rd. Drive slowly, here, as the meadows have many mineral mud pots that often host moose and grizzly bears. Continue for about 3 miles, keeping right at every intersection, until you reach the Mt. Shark parking lot. The trailhead is just behind the information sign beside the lot.
- Hiking shoes
- Hiking poles
- Bear spray
- Snacks and water
- Camera and tripod
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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