Total Distance: 7.6 miles (to the small lake just beyond Applebee Dome and back)
Conrad Kain Hut is 6 miles total
Trailhead Elevation: 5,000′
Total Elevation Gain: 3,362′
Recommended Time: Full-day. (It is a journey to just get to the trailhead. The hike itself takes half a day.)
Recommended Season: Mid-July to Late-August
Climbing & Day Hikes
Bugaboo Provincial Park is a climbing mecca for those seeking challenging vertical cliff faces. The Bugaboo Glacier has carved out rugged stone spires along its steep descent into the valley of the Canadian Rockies. The granite monoliths protruding from ancient glacial ice flows are great for climbing but the sheer beauty of this place is overwhelming. Jennifer and I have traveled far and wide seeking out the most beautiful glaciers. Thus far, the Bugaboo’s river of glacial ice stands out as the most picturesque we’ve ever seen. While the Conrad Kain Hut, Boulder Campground, and the Applebee Dome Campground further up the mountain are starting points for climbers, they make for an amazing day hike as well. The Kain Hut Trail is the path to discovering this gorgeous landscape for yourself and the best day hike in the Canadian Rockies.
Kain Hut Trail
The trail getting to the Conrad Kain Hut isn’t for the faint of heart. It has over 2,400′ of elevation gain in 3-miles. The first mile is nearly flat so the remainder of the trail gains more than 1,000′ every mile. The path has steep switchbacks and vertical cliff faces where the trail is supplemented with chains and even an iron ladder bolted into the rock face. This isn’t your average hiking adventure. Climbers complete this route while carrying backpacking and climbing gear plus supplies, so, in comparison, taking on the Kain Hut Trail as a day hike is a reasonable undertaking. You might disagree if you aren’t familiar with cliffside trails.
Conrad Kain Hut
Kain Hut affords some amazing views of the alpine terrain and the massive Bugaboo glacier. It is a truly stunning spot. However, to have the full experience we recommend continue the accent to the Applebee Dome where there is a small alpine lake just beyond the campground.
Applebee Dome Trail
The Applebee Dome Trail continues the steep ascent into the mountains gaining another 900′ in 3/4 of a mile. This trail is a little difficult to follow as snow lingers well into the summer. In fact, in late July the snow was so deep in areas that there were no rocks protruding out of it. Traveling with micro-spikes is highly recommended throughout most of the summer. The views from the Applebee Dome Campground are nothing short of amazing. The unnamed lake, which I can only assume is referred to as Applebee Lake, is equally beautiful as it sits in an alpine bowl covered in snow with jagged cliffs rising on three sides.
Getting to the Trailhead
Getting to this stunning and oddly named Provincial Park is an epic journey in itself. It can prove difficult as it requires driving on 28 miles of moderately maintained dirt roads with no cell service for most of the way. We saw a lot of low clearance vehicles making the journey but I would recommend high-clearance for peace of mind.
Chicken Wire Challenge
The last obstacle one wishing to hike the Kain Hut Trail must face is mastering the skill of wrapping a vehicle in chicken wire. I’m not kidding. There are no tutorials but all supplies are provided by the park’s service. This essential life skill can be gleaned from looking at your fellow epic traveler’s vehicles that are already in the parking lot. Why you may ask? The local porcupines have acquired a taste for rubber. This includes gnawing on your tires and more importantly your break lines. We were especially nervous because we had put new tires on our truck three days before our visit. They had that new tire smell I was certain would be irresistible to the prickly varmints.
It is Amazing!
This is one of the hardest trails to get to with some unique wildlife challenges and a strenuous hike. However, for those who do take on the Kain Hut Trail an epic adventure awaits with one of the most scenic areas in all of the Canadian Rockies as your reward.
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That’s our Top 40 best Canadian Rockies day hikes! If you think we missed one of the best, leave us a comment. If you have enjoyed this list, make sure to share it on your social networks to help your friends start planning their next adventure.