skip to Main Content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in posts
Search in pages
The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike In Kananaskis Country

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

On a cold, snowy September day – the sort of day where a good book, a hot drink and a fireplace has appeal, John and I found ourselves driving Highway 40 towards Highwood Pass in Kananaskis Country. Our goal was the easy Arethusa Cirque hike where we’d been told we’d find larches in all their fall glory.

The Arethusa Cirque hike under a dusting of snow

The Arethusa Cirque hike under a dusting of snow

The hike to Arethusa Cirque

The hike to Arethusa Cirque is neither marked nor maintained but there is one sign at the start of the trail (at the far end of the rough parking lot) and a very easy to follow trail once you’ve found the start of it.

For the first 0.7 kilometres the trail climbs through the woods at a pretty gentle grade. Because of the snow, the trail was muddy and slippery in areas but still very manageable.

We were thankful that we came prepared with all the right clothes (always take extra warm clothes for the mountains) despite the fact that the weather had been warm and sunny in Calgary.

The little girl in a pink tutu we passed was not quite so happy. This storm blew in quickly and her parents were obviously completely unprepared.

Read: The 10 Hiking Essentials Everyone Should Carry

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

Starting up through the trees

When you reach the tarn, you get the first inkling of the visual treat that’s in store. We ended up with peak-a-boo mountain views over the course of our two hour hike as the snow competed with the sun and won for about 30 minutes.

Getting to Arethusa Cirque

There’s a small creek to the east of the tarn you want to follow to reach Arethusa Cirque. The trail is really obvious in here as it weaves through open areas and then alongside the creek itself.

There is a wee bit of boulder hopping just before you reach treeline. Once at treeline the trails go all over the place so look up and to your right (east) and start making your own way up and over a couple of talus filled hills to gain the high point.

From there you can wander towards the cirque – and decide how far up you want to travel. It’s about a kilometre from treeline to get into the cirque.

How about adding on a hike to the summit of Little Arethusa?

Want to spend more time enjoying the beauty of the mountains? Add on the hike to the summit of Little Arethusasituated northwest of Arethusa Cirque near Ptarmigan Cirque.

You’d want to take the left fork of the trail when it crosses the creek and work your way to the western part of the lower slope where from all reports there is a good trail to the top. That hike is now on my list for next summer.

On this day John and I were more interested in capturing the larches in their glory. Another time we’d explore the talus field as its known for it’s fossilized shells.

For the effort and the time, the Arethusa Cirque hike delivers fantastic mountain views. I highly recommend it but do go prepared as this is grizzly bear country and everyone should carry a can of bear spray that is under two year’s old.

Read: Tips for Staying Safe in Bear Country

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

Breaking out of the trees on the Arethusa Cirque hike

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

Fall is a fantastic time to do this hike for the larches

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

The cloud and fog comes and goes over the length of the hike

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

Follow a stream through a small rockpile near treeline

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

With a dusting of snow the views are truly spectacular

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

Arethusa Cirque

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

The highest larch tree on the mountain

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

John looking towards Ptarmigan Cirque

Finding the Trailhead to Arethusa Cirque

The trailhead is located approximately 1.25 kilometres south of the Highwood Pass parking lot on the east side of Highway 40. If it’s a nice day or a weekend there is a good chance you’ll see other cars parked in a large informal dirt parking lot.

More Kananaskis Country hikes you might enjoy

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Fabulous Arethusa Cirque Hike in Kananaskis Country

 

 

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. Gorgeous photos, Leigh! The fossils you can see on this short hike are astounding. I have never seen anything like it. Love, love, love this hike!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Close search

Cart