Are you on the hunt for a moderate and unique hiking adventure that involves exploring a frozen waterfall near Calgary? Inside the Green Monster is exactly where you want to be!

With a variety of trails suitable for all skill levels, Kananaskis Country is about an hour's drive from Calgary, making it the perfect destination for families looking to explore. The Green Monster is a popular hike near Calgary, particularly for those who want to experience a waterfall hike. During winter, the trail offers stunning frozen waterfalls and is easily accessible for a day trip from the city.

The Green Monster Waterfall Hike

The Green Monster hike is great for kids and most dogs, covering 11-14kms. It's mostly straightforward, but there's a short, technical chain and rope section. Be cautious with kids and dogs, and evaluate their ability to navigate that stretch.

green monster kananaskis country evan thomas area rocky mountains

Summary of Green Monster Hike

  • PERMITS: Ensure you have a Kananaskis Conservation Pass, available for purchase online or at the Kananaskis Visitor Information Centre. Day-use permits cost $15, while an annual pass for three vehicles at the same address costs $90.
  • DISTANCE: The hike spans approximately 11-14 km (6.8 - 8.7 miles) round trip, with an elevation gain of 350 m (1148 feet).
  • DIFFICULTY: Rated as a moderate hike, it typically takes 4 to 4.5 hours for the return journey. Covering a distance of approximately 14kms with an elevation gain of 350meters, this hike be done as a loop, instead of an in and out trek. It's a few kms longer but the loop option offers a super gradual incline on the way in. You can choose to take your time and enjoy the scenery, or turn up the pace and use it as a trail run.
  • ATTRACTIONS: A gully, waterfalls, a chain section. Winter allows for frozen waterfall exploration.
  • PARKING: Evan-Thomas day use area, around 25 km south on Highway 40 (Stoney Nakota Casino exit), a few kms past Kananaskis Village and Nakiska, our favourite family-friendly ski hill.
  • SERVICES: Washrooms, picnic tables. Out of cell phone service area. If, like us, you often run off caffeine to fuel your adventures -- restrooms are available in the parking lot. Be warned, like all the Alberta Parks washrooms, the toilet paper is one-ply and requires patience and finesse to whittle enough together for wipage!
  • FAMILY/DOG FRIENDLY: Kid-friendly terrain, and on-leash dogs are allowed. If you're planning to lug your toddler into the Green Monster trail, try to convince someone to tag along for the adventure and share weight of your heavy, wiggly backpack!
  • PLANNING: Prior to setting off, download a trail map and check the trail reports for the Green Monster hike.
  • ALL SEASONS: In winter, carry microspikes and hiking poles to navigate icy, steep sections. Hiking in bear country always requires easy access to bear spray, even in winter.

Starting the Green Monster Hike

As you set out from the parking lot and make your way towards the Old Baldy Trail, it isn't long before the summit of The Wedge reveals itself through the trees.

Once you reach the first intersection (about 1.6km in), you can take a right (heads toward the gully for the in and out way) or left for the loop route. This loop option extends your day by 2-3kms, hence the added distance to the AllTrails map.

The gradual ascent through the dense, evergreen forest offers peek-a-boo mountain/gully views. This loop route will eventually turn right (there was orange flagging tape) and lead you to the top of the steepest section of the trail, which you'll descend. The descent is not challenging, but can be slushy and slippery (great place to get those microspikes on). You'll see that it opens up with nice views of the first of many frozen waterfalls along the gully rock wall.

The Waterfall Hike Begins

Once you descend into the gully, you'll walk past an abundance of gorgeous, green-blue tinted waterfalls seemingly frozen in time.

green monster hike family hike frozen waterfall

One particularly unique section that the Green Monster hike offers involves a chain and rope section, which adds an element of excitement to the hike. At this point, microspikes are recommended, as the trail has a steep drop-off and is slippery in places. We personally didn't find this section difficult or scary at all, and never hesitated with a baby in tow. 

green monster hike chain section family hike

Once you're past the chain and rope section, you're back into the guts of the gully and welcomed with more, beautifully frozen waterfalls.

There are so many waterfalls that we weren't sure if we had reached the Green Monster until we went past it and came back again. If you're anything like us, you'll continue to the end of the trail where you will see this gorgeous waterfall.

After making it to the end, we decided to turn around and go back to the Green Monster to explore it further.

green monster hike family hike frozen waterfall

This was the best, roomiest option for Sylas to run around and fuel up. There is an open water area to be mindful of and there is risk of ice falling inside the frozen waterfall.

green monster hike family hike eating

Going inside the Green Monster is not for the faint of heart and can be a little sketchy. Use use microspikes and climb up to the entrance on the right side (it's not the obvious entrance). Your hands will likely get cold and wet, so pack some warm gloves.

Sylas was equal parts freaked out and curious, but didn't want to go too far inside.

green monster hike family hike

Once inside the Green Monster, you'll notice a mysterious ambience, in which sounds are dampened by thick pillars of green ice. Beats from melting ice, drip rhythmically to create an otherworldly symphony. Each step you take upon the icy terrain produces a crunch, creating a chorus of slight echoes that reverberate against the rockwall.

When we were satisfied with our exploration, we headed started our journey back out. This means that you will have to do the chain section in reverse.

Instead of doing the Thomas-Evan loop path, this time we followed the gully the entire way out and were greeted with different views of incredible vistas.

Top Tips for The Green Monster Waterfall Hike

To make your experience on the Green Monster enjoyable and safe, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • You will need a Kananaskis Conservation pass to access this trail near Calgary.
  • Warm, waterproof, and breathable clothing. Layers are key, as you'll want to be able to remove or add clothing as you heat up or cool down. Don't forget a hat, beanie, gloves, buff, and warm socks to protect your extremities. I like to wear leg warmers -- they act like gaiters (but not waterproof).
  • Appropriate Footwear. Invest in a good pair of hiking boots that provide good grip and support. Microspikes may be necessary if the trail is icy and were definitely appreciated on this waterfall hike.
  • Baby Transportation. Have a good quality baby carrier if you are doing this as a family.
  • Water and snacks. Hiking in the cold can be dehydrating, so make sure to bring plenty of water and high-energy snacks to keep you fuelled and hydrated. We love convenient and compact snacks like nuts and protein bars. I always take a pre-packaged food purees for Sylas.
  • Stay on the trail. Winter hiking can be treacherous, so it's important to stay on the marked trail to avoid getting lost or injured. This one is well traveled so mostly a non-issue. But if you go off trail, you may sink up to your knee.
  • Always be prepared. Download a map, have basic first-aid supplies, a lighter, emergency blanket, and a battery charger in case of an emergency. As always, hiking and exploring Nature comes with safety considerations and you are your own best judge!
  • Communication. Let your whereabouts be known before you set out on your hike. Once you turn onto highway 40, cell service is intermittent you can't rely on it.  

History of Evan-Thomas Area

Evan-Thomas Provincial Recreation Area, also known as ETPRA, is the sixth largest Provincial Recreation Area in the Province of Alberta, Canada, spanning across 2,571 hectares (about 10 square miles). ETPRA was established in 1982, and its boundaries have changed several times over the years to coincide with the formation and expansion of other surrounding Provincial Parks. The creation of ETPRA was part of the K-Country master planning process, with the aim of providing a core node for commercial and recreational tourism in the Kananaskis area. While the area is managed to achieve conservation and preservation, it also seeks to strike a balance between protecting the natural environment and promoting recreational use.

ETPRA boasts an extensive list of facilities, including privately owned facilities on leased land such as the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel (HI), and The Sundance Lodges. The government also owns facilities that are contracted out to the private sector, including Nakiska Ski Resort (owned by the Government of Alberta and operated by Resorts of the Canadian Rockies), Kananaskis Golf Course, Mt. Kidd RV Park, and Kananaskis Village Centre.

Moreover, the area has government-owned and operated facilities like the Kananaskis Emergency Services building. It also features various official recreation facilities, including Ribbon Creek Day Use, Kovach Pond Day Use, Evan-Thomas Day Use, the Kananaskis Village Helipad, and Beaver Ponds Day Use.

Vice Admiral Hugh Evan-Thomas was a respected and accomplished naval officer who played an important role in the Royal Navy during a period of significant change and upheaval. His legacy continues to be remembered and celebrated by the navy and the wider community today. Even had a mountain named after him -- Mount Evan-Thomas, also located in the heart of Kananaskis Country.

Plan Your Next Trip with Us

Our website is a valuable resource for planning your next adventure.

When exploring these amazing lands, always be prepared. Download a map, have basic first-aid supplies, a lighter, emergency blanket, and a battery charger in case of an emergency. As always, hiking and exploring Nature comes with safety considerations and you are your own best judge! Let your whereabouts be known before you set out on your hike. Once you turn onto highway 40, cell service is intermittent you can't rely on it. Remember that you will need a Kananaskis Conservation pass to access this trail near Calgary and any other trail in K-Country.

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Sylas & Sophia of Rocky Tales.