Mist Mountain has been on my Alberta Bucket List ever since we moved out here. The mountain is located off highway 40 in Kananaskis with an elevation of just over 10,000 feet. While some choose to summit the mountain, we never, we aimed straight for the main attraction: a natural warm springs, off the beaten path and though heavily trafficked, not a regulated tourist attraction.
To access the trailhead from Alberta (Banff/Calgary), head west on highway 40. The trailhead is about 80 km from the Stoney Nakoda Casino, which is at the intersection of highway 1 and highway 40. The coordinates I used in Apple Maps were: 50.93242 N, 115.12671 W. There are two gravel parking areas on the left side of the highway to safely leave your vehicle. The trailhead might be a little tough to spot through the trees and is unmarked, but you’ll find it!
The hike to the springs is out-and-back, exactly 7.00 km for us. We completed the hike in about 3 hours on a sunny day in early October 2022. Although this is getting closer to the off-season, there were still a number of other hikers using the trail and dipping in the springs. We hiked from about noon to 3:00 pm, but in the summer months, I’d suggest heading out much earlier to beat the heat and the crowds.
The first two-thirds of the ascent is steep and difficult. While the terrain is even and manageable, the incline is intense. The last third of the ascent has rougher terrain but is mostly flat with little incline. Of course, this means a challenging descent as well, with the risk of slipping on the scree and lots of pressure on the knees and ankles. This hike is achievable for an amateur hiker but definitely is not for the faint of heart! Even our Golden Retriever pup was exhausted!
The warm springs are absolutely beautiful and so worth the hard work to reach them. A private oasis (aside from the other hikers) right in the heart of the mountains. There are two pools, a smaller one and a larger one, with the larger one comfortably fitting four adults (and one dog!). We waited about 20 minutes for our turn to take a dip, so we had a beer and a snack and just hung out and took in the views. We stayed in the springs for about 15 minutes before letting the next people get in. We could have stayed in for hours if we were alone, but I’m betting that’s a rare occurrence at Mist Mountain.
I am so glad that I finally made it to Mist Mountain and I highly recommend this adventure to anyone who finds themselves in the Kananaskis area! Happy hiking! Stay safe!