The concept of working out in your backyard is taken to epic proportions if you live in Calgary and your “backyard” is Kananaskis Country (and for the rest of us, it’s just a one-hour drive to K-Country once you land in the home of the Stampede). Located in the foothills and front ranges of the Rocky Mountains, Kananskis encompasses nine provincial parks (four of them of the wildland variety) and an eco reserve. Conveniently close to the city, it delivers stunning vistas, fresh mountain air, and gorgeous peaks and valleys that provide such fantastic cardio workouts you will be tempted to give up your gym membership altogether in favour of Mother Nature.
Where to stay
The Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge has been renovated from its previous incarnation as another property and the vibe now is rusticly chic and modern. Book a spacious loft suite, complete with a fireplace in the living room–which you’ll appreciate when that temp dips at nightfall—and it’ll feel like your own backcountry townhouse pied a terre. Even if you’re not the type to buy souvenirs, be sure to stop into the Market Cafe where they have a well curated selection of local goods such as Rosso Coffee (which they serve) other great gift such as water bottles, notebooks and stuffed animals.
Where to work up a sweat
You’ll swear that every inspirational mountain or hiking quote has been coined with Kananaskis in mind once you discover the wealth of hiking trails in the area. For a zen way to start the day, stroll the Village Rim trail right outside the Lodge with your morning coffee in hand; taking in the stellar views from the lookout points is the self-care your soul is craving. Just across the road from the entrance to Kananaskis Village is the Troll Falls trail, an easy 3.4-kilometre hike on a flat dirt path that after about 20 minutes of walking rewards you with a pretty waterfall. For something that’ll take your breath away both in terms of its beauty and cardio workout, drive to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to hike the Indefatigable trail. Although trail has been decommissioned by the park, as you’ll see by the sign at the trailhead, due to bear activity, it is still quite heavily trafficked. Practice safety if you plan to hike Mount Indefatigable: check reports on bear sightings, hike it as a group, and be sure to make enough noise while out there so you don’t catch any bears by surprise. This mountain’s phenomenal views paired with the uphill heart-pumping challenge rounded out with some scrambling and ridges at the peak to navigate is what makes this trail a Kananaskis favourite.
What to do on rest day
After a few intense hikes, the best way to give those quads a rest is at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa (and, bonus, it’s conveniently located at the Lodge). The water circuit from warm to hot pools to ice cold plunge pool will get your circulation going, and curling up in a hammock with views of snowy mountain peaks is the ultimate way to carve out some quiet time to yourself. Finish your visit to this alpine sanctuary with the essential-oil infused scrub you receive upon spa check-in so that you walk out with baby-soft skin.
Where to fuel up
Although dubbed Kananaskis Village, you won’t find a main street filled with shops and restaurants. But refueling is simple with four options at the Lodge to choose from. Our picks? Hit up Forte for some carbs the night before a big hike. This vibrant space filled with natural light serves up a delectable wild mushroom, short rib and truffle cream pappardelle that’ll give you the energy you need. Follow it the next evening with the protein your muscles could use for recovery and grab a table at Cedar Room. This handsome dining room is where you’ll get your premium Albertan cuts of beef cooked precisely to your desired doneness (and start with the roasted cauliflower with green goddess dressing for a serviing of veggies). Looking to explore options a bit further afield? The town of Canmore is about a 20-minute drive away, and the delightful Communitea Cafe is a cheerful spot where you can get well balanced, flavourful rice and salad bowls for lunch.