HIKE TO MIST MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS
Distance: 7 km Moving Time: 2h30min Elevation Gain: 600m
AllTrails Rating: – MODERATE
AllTrails Link: Trail to Mist Mountain Hot Springs
GETTING TO THE MIST MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS TRAILHEAD
You have two options to get to the Mist Mountain Hot Springs trailhead, south from Calgary or West. It depends on where in the city you start your journey, either way it will be somewhere between 90 minutes to 2 hours. We headed west for our trip and did most of the Highwood Pass, the highest paved road in all of Canada!
The trailhead is marked by a green ribbon on a tree and should be easy to find as there is a pullout for a parking lot with enough room for a few dozen cars. You’ll see lots of cyclists, motorcyclists, and car enthusiasts along the way as the Highwood Pass loop is is a popular day trip for a cruise.
HIKING TO MIST MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS REVIEW
We typically leave for our Kananaskis Country hikes at 6am. That may sound early to some, but we are never the first ones at the parking lot. This time around, as we passed people coming down on our way up, we discovered many like to sleep overnight at the trailhead for an early attack and a sunrise experience.
That would be magical at the Mist Mountain Hot Springs – some even camped overnight at the hot springs site – but wasn’t for us this time around. Our start time, though, was early enough to beat the rush and not wait too long for a dip in the pools.
The trail is very straightforward, you hustle through a quiet forest, making some initial climbs. The narrow trail is very well defined, covered in pine straw, and only a few roots are in the way. Quickly you pop out above the trees and into the valley between Mist Mountain and Eagle Ridge.
This is where things are a little steeper as you climb the gap between the two peaks to get to a very well-defined saddle. The saddle is fantastic. It would be enough of a reward for a very short hike (it’s not even 3km to this point), but we have hot springs on our mind!
It is very windy here, so you might have to put a jacket back on that you layered down from on the way up, but you’ll want the extended break at the saddle to get some great photos. There are some mounds and ledges that make for jaw-dropping Instagram posts.
If you’re interested in summiting Mist Mountain, make sure you are prepared. Many of the reviews we read spoke of rapidly changing conditions, snow, rain, wind, etc. It’s a long sludge up through a scree valley with some technical climbing areas, so be prepared if you’re taking the extra 600m of elevation and 4 km of trail.
We chose to save the summit for another day and just made our way through the scree and around the mountain in a horseshoe shape to get to the Mist Mountain Hot Spring. You’ll have to be careful in the scree, it’s a steep ledge down to your right and there are many trails to follow, so just make sure you spot the hot spring on the mountain, and stay at the same elevation around the valley.
The Mist Mountain Hot Springs are cosy pools with one big enough for 2 and the other could squeeze in 3 or 4 close friends. Mist Mountain gets its name from the variable weather in the area that likes to hang in the valley (making the hot springs harder to find depending on the weather), but our visit was a perfect blue bird day.
The pools are very exposed on a scree slope and it can get very slippery with the pools leaking out and biofilm growing as the water runs down, so make sure you have grippy shoes and some towels to offer privacy as you change.
Here’s a video from our adventure hiking to Mist Mountain Hot Springs!
HIKING TO MIST MOUNTAIN HOT SPRINGS TIPS
1. Get there early! On our early morning hike, we were greeted by people coming down after we started going up before 8am. They had camped at the trailhead the night before and started climbing at 430am. Others camped at the hot spring. We waited for one group to finish before we got to dip in, others were waiting much longer.
2. To that point, if others are waiting, be respectful and don’t take forever. Get your Instagram pics done, have a relaxing soak, and let others take a turn. We saw far too many people selfishly sitting in the pools for over half an hour while others waited. 10 minutes is just fine.