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How to get to Mist Mountain Hot Springs

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“As I sat there in the hot spring, staring out at the surrounding mountains, I couldn’t quite believe where I was. 10 year old Kerry would NEVER have believed this!”

Mist Mountain Hot Springs in Kananaskis is a hot spring hidden in the side of mountain which you are able to hike to.

couple sitting in Mist Mountain Hot Springs at sunset

The hike to the hot spring is 8km / 5 miles return with an elevation gain of 490m / 1,607 ft which will take you around 2-3.5 hours in total.

One thing to point out is that we went to the Mist Mountain Hot Springs for sunset, which was 1000% not worth the terrifying adrenaline pumping hike back in the dark where I was SCREAMING out Taylor Swift songs to make sure any wild animals knew that we were coming. I’m pretty sure any bears that were there would have been just as terrified as we were when they heard us coming. 😅

girl sitting in Mist Mountain Hot Springs at sunset

Before you jump at the idea to hike to Mist Mountain Hot Springs, I highly recommend reading this entire guide to make sure you feel comfortable hiking it and are well prepared. Everything you need to know about Mist Mountain Hot Springs is located in this guide, including:

  • Where to park
  • Are passes or permits required
  • Are there bears in the area
  • Is the hike hard
  • How long will the Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike take
  • Are the hot springs hot
  • Are the hot springs worth the hike

How to Hike to Mist Mountain Hot Springs in Kananaskis

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 8km / 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 490m / 1,607 ft
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours

Dogs allowed: Yes
Toilets: None

📍 Where is Mist Mountain Hot Springs Located

Mist Mountain Hot Springs is located in Kananaskis, which is about a 1.5 hour drive from Banff.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

couple sitting in the Mist Mountain Hot Springs

Where to Park and Finding the Trailhead

The trailhead is located along Highway 40. Please note that this road is closed from December to June to wildlife preservation.

If you are coming from the Banff/Canmore area, the trailhead will be on your left-hand-side along highway 40. To find the exact place for the trailhead, use the map above. There is no official parking lot so you can park on the side of the road.

The trailhead is a little hard to find as it is not officially marked. You will need to look for a little opening in the trees where you will then start to see a well worn trail.

I highly recommend using Alltrails offline maps or similar to navigate as there is no cell reception out on the trial.

girl sitting in Mist Mountain Hot Springs

❗ Helpful Tips When Hiking to Mist Mountain Hot Springs

  • Use offline Alltrails to navigate and follow the trial – there is no cell service out there.
  • Bring plenty of food and water – you will be burning lots of energy.
  • Don’t forget your bear spray!
  • You may want to consider bringing along a pair of hiking poles for help with steep sections scree sections of the trail.
  • Wear your swimsuit underneath your clothes if you can. There is not a lot of space to get changed at the hot springs and it is very exposed/steep.
  • We went for sunset and it honestly wasn’t worth it because the sun went down behind the mountains before we even got there. I think that sunrise would probably be better.

🎫 Do I need a Hiking Pass or Permit?

You will need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to park in the Kananaskis area. These are CAD$15 per day or CAD$90 for an annual pass and you can purchase these online.

🚻 Facilities

There are no facilities at the parking area or along the trail of the Mist Mountain Hot Springs hike.

If you need to use the bathroom before starting your hike, you can do so at the Kananaskis Visitors information centre on the way to the trailhead. The visitors centre is located at the beginning of highway 40.

Mist Mountain Hot Springs  at sunset

🐻 Are there bears in the area?

The Mist Mountain Hot Springs trail and the surrounding area is a Grizzly Bear hot spot. If you can, try to hike in a group of more than 2 people and make sure you have bear spray with you and make lots of noise.

We find it helpful to check the alltrails reviews before we go to make sure no bears have been spotted in the area or along the trail recently.

🥾 How Hard is the Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike

The Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike was more difficult than I thought it would be. There was more scrambling involved than I was prepared for and the trail was also fairly steep.

Scree section on the Mist Mountain Hot Springs trail
Scree section near the hot springs

If you take it at your own pace the steepness is not too bad. The hardest part of the trail was once you reach the scree closer to the hot springs as there are some steep sections that we found we had to crawl down to avoid sliding down the mountain on the scree.

If you are someone who doesn’t mind scree at all then you will probably be fine but I have a real fear of slipping and falling so I struggle whenever there is scree on a hike.

Girl hiking the scree section on the Mist Mountain Hot Springs
Kerry navigating one of the steepest scree sections of the trail

🕐 Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hiking Time

The hike could take you anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your speed. Of course, it could also take you longer or a shorter amount of time if are are a super fast hiker or spend ages in the springs.

🐶 Can Dogs do the Mist Mountain Hot Springs Hike

Dogs are allowed on the Mist Mountain Hot Springs trail, however on a leash.

📆 When is the Best Time of the Year to do the Hike

The best time to do the Mist Mountain Hot Springs hiking trail is during the Summer. The road to the trailhead actually closes from December 1- June 14 for wildlife preservation. It would also be FREEZING going in the hot springs outside of Summer because they aren’t all that hot.

🌡 How Hot are the Hot Springs

When we were there in July, the hot springs were not all that hot and they were also pretty shallow. I had to almost lie down in the hot spring to warm up. Another downside to these hot springs is that the 2 pools themselves are quite small so you can only fit a couple of people in each.

There were no other people there when we were there, however, if it is a busy day, I can imagine that you might have to wait a while for your turn.

👀 Are Mist Mountain Hot Springs Worth it?

Whether or not the hot springs are worth it all depends on what your goal is. We enjoyed our adventure to Mist Mountain Hot Springs but it definitely wouldn’t be for everyone.

Girl hiking to mist mountain hot springs in Kananaskis

The Hot Springs themselves are not the greatest. If your goal is to find some relaxing nice hot springs to sit and enjoy a view for a while, I would probably look elsewhere. Mist Mountain Hot Springs is very shallow, not all that hot and you will most likely have to wait for other people.

If you are looking for an adventurous hike, amazing views and to see a really incredible hot spring that sounds like it’s come straight out of a Lord of the Rings book, then this is the hike for you!

🌲 Leave No Trace

Before heading out onto Alberta’s backcountry, please remind yourself of the Leave No Trace Principles. Take everything back out that you take in, take only photos and respect the wildlife and other people. You can read more on the 7 LNT principles here.

🥾 Mist Mountain Hot Springs Trail Description

The Trail

Once you find the trailhead using the instruction above, you will start hiking through the forest with a bit of an incline. There are a couple of forks in the trail so make sure you keep checking your offline maps to ensure that you stay on the right trail.

Eventually the trail will open up into some meadows and the trees will disappear. This is where the hike gets quite steep as you will be going straight up the mountain, all of the way up to the ridgeline.

Finding the Hot Springs

Once you reach the ridgeline which is also where the scree trail begins, you should be able to see the steam coming off the hot springs, showing you where they are.

The start of the scree trail is not too bad and pretty flat. Right before you get to the hot springs, you will have to scramble down a quite steep section which is also quite slippery. We found it easier to scramble both down and back up this section using our hands for extra grip.

Summiting Mist Mountain

If you still have energy after the hot springs and are keen to hike even further, you can hike up to the summit of Mist Mountain.

We went to the hot springs for sunset and so didn’t have time to go any further so I’m not sure how “worth it” the views from the summit are. It does sound like a tough hike up though. You can find the Mist Mountain Summit hike details here.

🛌 Where to Stay in Kananaskis

Kananaskis is a super underrated area so why not make a trip of it! There are some beautiful places to stay in Kananaskis such as:

Luxury Accommodation

Budget Accomodation

🎒 Packing List

💭 Our Thoughts

We both thought the hike was very much an adventure and it was cool to be able to hike to hot springs in the side of a mountain. However, the hot springs themselves weren’t the best hot springs that we had ever been to.

They were more like luke warm springs rather than hot springs and very shallow when we were there. This would probably change throughout the year, depending on how much water there was coming from the hot spring source.

The hot springs are located literally on the side of a mountain and it is quite awkward to get changed because of how steep the drop off is. You really have to hunt for a safe place to put your belongings so that you don’t lose them down the side of the mountain.

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Lita

Sunday 25th of February 2024

Okay loved reading your take on these springs, it's been on my list, but now that you went in detail about it I'm not as sure. I hate scree... and if you can't fully relax... I'm conflicted!

Kerry

Thursday 29th of February 2024

I have to say it was a lot sketchier than I had thought it would be! But also if you REALLY want to do, then do it! The springs themselves are great for photos but not for sitting in for too long as well! :P

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