Set amidst the mountainous landscapes of Kananaskis Country, the Troll Falls hike is a unique escape located just an hour from Calgary, Alberta. Whether you're an avid hiker or a family seeking a nature outing, this trail offers all season hiking enhanced with the timeless allure of waterfalls.

Troll Falls Hike

Troll Falls is an easy to moderate hike near Calgary, Alberta that offers stunning views of waterfalls, mountains and dense, evergreen trees. It features three waterfalls and is the perfect family hike due to the fact that you can turn around at the first waterfall if it's enough for your family.

We've done this hike multiple times in every season, as it's within an hour from Calgary! Today, with snow-packed trails melting fast, we geared up again. After Lower Troll Falls, I opted for my microspikes. For context, my 2.5 year old walked to Upper Troll Falls and back to the parking lot with minimal pickups. It was a three-hour journey, but hey, that's toddler pace for ya!

Frozen Lower Troll Falls in Winter.

Summary of Troll Falls 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 Troll Falls hike is approximately 3.5 km round-trip to Troll Falls, with an additional 1 km return to Upper Troll Falls. Elevation of 30 meters (98 feet) to Lower Troll Falls and 70 meters (230 feet) to Upper Troll Falls. With a toddler in tow, we clocked in at around 6 km for return trip to the parking lot.
  • DIFFICULTY: Rated as easy and family-friendly. The return hike, including Upper Troll Falls, takes about 60-90 minutes for those moving quickly. If accompanied by young kids, add an extra 30-90 minutes.
  • ATTRACTIONS: Troll Falls offers a year-round family-friendly outing, with the option to explore a side trail to Marmot Falls and Upper Troll Falls. In winter, witness the waterfalls transformed into icefalls. Consider adding the Hay Meadow Loop hike on the way back for a chance to spot golden eagles during spring and fall migration.
  • TRAILHEAD/PARKING: The Troll Falls begins approximately 20 minutes drive down south on highway 40 (Highwood Pass) in Kananaskis Country. The parking lot is on the right-hand side along Mt. Allan drive (the Nakiska Ski Resort turnoff). The parking lot can busy, especially on weekends in the summer. Go early or late to secure a spot or park near the Pomeroy Kananaskis Lodge in Kananaskis Village (across the main road) and take a longer hike via the trail network leading to the falls. You can also access this trail via Nakiska (past bronze chair).
  • SERVICES: Limited cell phone service (although not great). If, like us, you often run off caffeine to fuel your adventures, washrooms 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 Troll Falls 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 Troll Falls 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.

If you're doing this as an adult only hike, I recommend giving yourself about 1.5 - 2 hours to complete it. The three waterfalls are Lower Troll Falls, Marmot Falls (the one you can get behind) and Upper Troll Falls. You can reach Lower Troll Falls in about 20 minutes if you start by the Bronze chair from the base of Nakiska Ski Resort.

troll falls hike starting from base of nakiska ski resort kananaskis alberta canada
Starting the Troll Falls hike from the base of Nakiska Ski Resort.

If you start from the Troll Falls trailhead, it's more like 30-40 mins to reach the first waterfall, Lower Troll Falls.

troll falls hike frozen waterfall near calgary
Sylas & Sophia at Lower Troll Falls in the winter.

After the first waterfall, the trail becomes steeper and more challenging. We often go right and take the trail for Upper Troll Falls first, but you can also follow the recommended trail which leads you to Marmot Falls first. Either way, they loop around. Choose your own adventure!

troll falls hike staircase
troll falls hike staircase

Marmot Falls Is our favourite part of this hike! It offers a very unique experience with the ability to get behind a frozen waterfall. With eyes wide-open, Sylas loves taking in all the different sounds and sights that come with being in this cave-like atmosphere.

troll falls hike family hike behind frozen waterfall
Behind frozen Marmot Falls.

TROLL FALLS CAN BE HIKED IN ALL SEASONS

One of my favourite things about Troll Falls is that it is hikeable in all seasons! I'd recommend always bringing your microspikes (with exception to summer months) as they're easy to carry - and you'll be grateful for them if you need um. Remember, put on your microspikes before you put your baby on your back!

WINTER

Throughout the winter season, Troll Falls trails can get super slippery. If you want to go past Lower Troll Falls, microspikes are necessary.

SPRING

As with everything in the Canadian Rockies, spring season can be winter-like (snow-packed, icy) or summer-like (dry and good to go). Chances are, you'll encounter some mud.

SUMMER

This hike is spectacular year-round and especially in summer months. Due to the dense evergreen forest, it remains pretty shaded and is absolutely amazing on a 30 degree summer day.

FALL

While waiting for the ski resorts to open in winter, you still have something to do outside! Be mindful that Troll Falls may be starting to freeze and trails could be icy.

TOP TIPS TO PREPARE FOR TROLL FALLS HIKE

  • Choose the Right Trail: When selecting a trail, consider the length, difficulty, and elevation gain, as well as the availability of facilities such as bathrooms and water stations. It's a good idea to start with shorter, easier trails and gradually work your way up to more challenging routes.
  • Know your Capabilities: Hiking with a baby can be physically demanding, so it's important to listen to your body and take breaks as needed. If you feel tired or uncomfortable, it's okay to turn back or take a shorter route.
  • Pack Smart: Make sure to bring plenty of snacks and water, and other essential supplies, as well as extra layers. A carrier or backpack is essential for family hikes.
  • Be Mindful and Observant: Keep a close eye on your baby at all times and stay aware. You may come across hazards such as loose rocks or slippery surfaces. Use micro-spikes and poles during winter family hikes.
  • Plan for Breaks: It's important to take breaks along the way to rest, and hydrate and feed yourself and your baby. Take a real, deeeeeeeep breath and take it all in!
  • Respect, Appreciate and Leave NO Trace: How lucky are we to be able to do any of these world-class family hikes?! Avoid going off trail and disturbing plants and wildlife and pack out all your trash. Show your gratitude to those who have taken care of our Earth since immemorial.

Constant Updates

As we live within an hour to the Troll Falls hike, we do it often meaning that this post will be updated frequently. You can be assured that we are always posting relevant and accurate information.

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