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The Beautiful Yates Mountain via Prairie View Trail in Kananaskis

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The Yates Mountain via Prairie View Trail is located in Kananaskis, Alberta and is one of the best bang for your buck hikes in the area. You get 2 epic viewpoints along this trail – Prairie View and Yates Mountain.

The view from the Prairie view lookout is of Barrier Lake and the surrounding mountains. It is a stunning viewpoint and makes for some great photos!

Couple standing at Prairie viewpoint in Kananaskis

Then from the top of Yates Mountain, you will get 360 views of the incredible Canadian Rockies surrounding you!

The hike is 12km / 7.4 miles return with an elevation gain of 654m / 2,145 ft and takes around 4-5 hours on average. It is still a bit of a longish uphill grind but compared to other hikes in the area with similar views, it is one of the easier ones.

Yates Mountain via Prairie View was the first hike we did in Kananaskis and it was the perfect choice for a first hike.

This guide has everything you need to know about the Prairie View hike including:

  • Where to park and start the hike from
  • How hard is the hike and how long will it take
  • What wildlife do you need to be aware of
  • Where is the best viewpoint
  • Are there toilets or any other facilities in the area
  • Do you need a hiking permit or similar (the answer is yes with details below)
  • Tips for hiking to Yates Mountain via Prairie View in the Winter
  • Where to stay in Kananaskis
  • Description of the trial
  • Hike packing list

How to Hike to Yates Mountain via Prairie View

📃 Hike Stats

Distance: 12km / 7.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 654m / 2,145 ft
Time: 3-5 hours

Dogs allowed: Yes
Toilets: Yes, at the trailhead

📍 Where is Yates Mountain via Prairie View Located

Yates Mountain via Prairie View is located in Bow Valley Provincial Park next to Barrier Lake. From Banff, the drive to the parking lot is about 45 minutes.

Click here to open the map in Google Maps!

Where to Park and Finding the Trailhead

You can park in the Barrier Lake Trail parking lot which is pinned on the map above. To park, you will need to show a Kananaskis Conservation Pass on your car’s dashboard.

If the parking lot is full, you can park along the side of the highway. You will probably see a long line of cars on your way in.

When we arrived at the turn off for the Barrier Lake, there was a long line of cars parked along the side of Highway 40, however there were still a few empty spots in the parking lot so I assume they were parked there for easier access to the lakeside rather than for the hike.

Man sitting at Prairie viewpoint along the Yates Mountain trail

❗ What to Know Before you Go

  • You will need to pre-purchase a Kananaskis Conservation pass to park at Barrier Lake.
  • Prairie Viewpoint is beautiful but it’s only an additional 15-20 minutes to get to the top of Yates Mountain via an unmaintained trail.
  • There is a fire lookout house at the top of Yates Mountain, however be respectful as someone lives there, however you can use the picnic table just below it.
  • Don’t forget your Bear Spray and make sure you are up to date with bear safety. You will be hiking in bear country and that includes Grizzly Bears.

🎫 Do I need a Hiking Pass or Permit?

You will need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass to park at Barrier Lake as it is located in the Bow Valley / Kananaskis area. These are CAD$15 per day or CAD$90 for an annual pass and you can purchase these online.

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🚻 Facilities

There are no facilities along the trail, however in the parking lot and at Barrier Lake there are pit toilets and tap water as well as a pay phone.

couple sitting at Prairie view along the yates mountain trail in Kananaskis

🐻 Wildlife in the Area

There is lots of wildlife in the Kananaskis area including squirrels, chipmunks, moose, deer, elk, big horn sheep, mountain goats, cougars, wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears, black bears and more.

Even though this is a fairly popular trail you should make sure that you hike with bear spray and are up to date on your bear and cougar safety.

The only wildlife we saw on the trail was a couple of cheeky chipmunks at the viewpoint looking to still food scraps off unsuspecting hikers.

chipmunk on the Yates Mountain trail in Kananaskis

🥾 How Hard is the Yates Mountain Trail

The Yates Mountain Trail is moderate difficulty. The reason we chose to do it on our first Summer trip to the Canadian Rockies was because it was one of the easier Kananaskis hikes which had an amazing view of the surrounding mountains.

Even though it is easier than other Kananaskis hikes, it is still a fairly long hike with a lot of steep switchbacks that do feel like a grind. We could definitely feel our legs on the way back down.

As long as you take it at your own pace, you will be fine.

Another thing to be aware of is a small scrambling section near the Prairie Viewpoint. I am not a great scrambler at all but I didn’t find this section back at all.

🕐 Yates Mountain via Prairie View Hiking Time

The entire hike could take you anywhere from 3-5 hours depending on how fast/slow of a hiker you are and how often and long you stop for photos. We ended up spending about 45 minutes at Prairie Viewpoint to eat lunch and take photos because the views up there were insane!

Yates Mountain via Prairie view Kananaskis

🐶 Can Dogs do the Yates Mountain Hike

The Yates Mountain Hike is a perfect trail for dogs to do. We saw loads of dogs along the trail when we did it in the Summer.

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

You can actually hike Yates Mountain via Prairie Viewpoint year-round, even through Winter.

The best time of the year to do the hike (in our opinion) is Summer or Fall. A hot Summers day is a great time to do this hike because you could cool off by taking a dip in Barrier lake on the way back, however it is a glacial lake so will definitely wake you up!

Couple on the Yates Mountain via Prairie view trail in Kananaskis

❄ Hiking to Yates Mountain via Prairie View in the Winter

You can hike to Yates Mountain via Prairie View in the Winter, however it will be snowy. Make sure you bring some extra Winter gear such as:

🌲 Leave No Trace

Before heading out into 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.

🥾 Yates Mountain via Prairie View Trail Description

As with every hike, I recommend using Alltrails offline maps to help navigate and ensure you stay on the trail. This trail is easy to follow, however the start can be a little confusing.

You will need to head down the trail towards Barrier Lake. Barrier Lake will be on your left hand side as you hike along the wide gravel path which ends up curving around to the right.

The trail that you will be hiking on becomes a little narrower once you start moving away from the lake, but is still quite a wide path.

Once you have hit the 1km mark, the elevation will begin and you will start hiking the long drawn out switchbacks up through the forest. We felt this section of the trail was never-ending because there are no views and unless you have the offline maps, it’s hard to figure out how far there is to go.

Eventually, the trail will open up on one side to the first view of Barrier Lake. We were kind of totally blown away by this view and so we stopped here for a while to make the most of it before continuing onto Prairie View.

Prairie View is not too much further from here (about 1km more).

Girl sitting at Prairie View

There is a slightly confusing section with a sign saying that the trail is unmaintained from here if you turn right. For Prairie View Lookout, you will need to take a left at the sign. This is where there is a tiny bit of scrambling but it’s really not all that bad.

Once you are ready to continue up to Yates Mountain, hike back down to where the unmaintained trail sign is and instead of the left turn, take the other one. As this trail is not maintained, it is a little rockier and steeper than the previous trail but still not too bad.

From here it is about a 15 – 20 minute hike to the Yates Mountain Summit, where you will also find Barrier Lake Fire Lookout.

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🛌 Where to Stay in Kananaskis

Kananaskis is a great place to go hiking so why not make a trip of it! There are some beautiful places to stay in Kananaskis such as:

Luxury Accommodation

Budget Accommodation

🎒 Packing List

💭 Our Thoughts

We thought this was a great trail as a beginner Kananaskis hike if you are dying to see those classic Kananaskis mountain views but don’t want to do a scramble hike such as Tent Ridge.

Even though it is an easier hike than a lot of other Kananaskis hikes, it still has a lot of elevation and switchbacks. There is also a tiny scramble section near the top of Prairie view but it’s not exposed at all.

I can imagine that this would also be a stunning viewpoint at sunrise or sunset with a nicely maintained trail to reach the viewpoint.

If you decide to do this hike on a hot Summers day, don’t forget your swimsuit to cool off in Barrier Lake after your hike!

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