Explore Kananaskis Country, Alberta: Know Before You Go to the Blackshale Suspension Bridge and Kananaskis Lake

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It’s not really a hidden gem, but since sharing about the Kananaskis Country suspension bridge this summer (2020) on social media, I’ve heard from a lot of people who live near or frequent the area, that they hadn’t realized the bridge existed! But this suspension bridge is not a secret! 

The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge has its own Google Maps marker and is listed on the popular AllTrails. It’s beautiful and easy to get to, making it a must-visit for casual Rocky Mountain adventurers like myself. 

Below are photos from my summer visit to both the Blackshale Suspension Bridge and Kananaskis Lake, which you’ll pass on your way in or out to the bridge, plus more tips and information for when you go! 

I always have so much fun with my Canmore adventure friends James and Ashleigh, and their pack of adventure animals (including famous adventure cat Great Grams of Gary) and I know you’ll have fun visiting this suspension bridge too (even without an adventure cat in tow lol). 

Be sure to check out my other Canadian Rocky Mountain Blog Posts too: 

Explore Kananaskis Country, Alberta: Know Before You Go To The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge and Kananaskis Lake

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Lower Kananaskis Lake
Use and share my Guide to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge and Lower Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta!

Where is the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge?

The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge is located in Kananaskis Country near Canmore, Alberta, on the eastern slopes of the beautiful Canadian Rockies. 

  • From Calgary, the bridge is about 1.5 hours drive south west.
  • From Canmore, the bridge is about 1 hour south east.
  • (Kananaskis Country is between Canmore and Calgary).
  • From Edmonton, you’re looking at about 4 hours.

It’s an easy day trip from Calgary (and Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise area) but I’m assuming if you’re coming from Edmonton you would be planning a stay overnight in the area (I’d recommend the Coast Canmore Hotel, which I’ve blogged / partnered with before—you can check out more details about the lovely hotel in my 2019 blog post here. They’ve got some fall 2020 promos they shared with me that may be of interest for visitors too! Not sponsored, just helpful lol). 

There are several provincial parks located within Kananskis Country including Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Bow Valley Provincial Park, and Sheep River Provincial Park. The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge sits within Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
The Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis Country, Alberta!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
Hello, here I am taking in the stunning views at the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge!

How do you get to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge?

I mean, you just need to put it into Google Maps and you’re set, lol. This isn’t a difficult bridge to access.

You can get exact coordinates from AllTrails, which describes the suspension bridge as part of “an easy, but heavily trafficked 1 km loop trail” (if you don’t want to take the bridge as a detour). 

The Blackshale Suspension Bridge is located along the Smith Dorrien Trail (Highway 742) and is actually part of something called the High Rockies Trail.

The High Rockies Trail is a more intense, 80 km trail that cuts through those three provincial parks I mentioned. Much of the region is forest. The rail is popular with hikers, runners, mountain bikers, snowshoers and in some sections, skiers. It would be a non-casual adventurer trail.

We casual adventurers can stick with the suspension bridge and the 1 km loop (or even just the bridge itself, no loop lol). You do have to hike up a short distance (a few minutes) to get to the bridge but it’s very doable. 

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
No matter what direction you're looking, it's a great view.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Adventure Dog and Cat
Adventure dogs and cats at Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Great Grams of Gary - Adventure Cat
Great Grams of Gary is so chill on all adventures.

When is the best time to go to the Blackshale Suspension Bridge?

We visited the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge on August Long Weekend (2020) and it was EMPTY! 

But how?! 

Well, a very big thunderstorm had just finished up and it was almost sunset (around 8 p.m.) lol.

So I’ve been jokingly telling people to watch for rain and as it’s raining, drive out. Ha ha. 

But honestly, to avoid the crowds your best bet is to visit early in the morning or later in the evening. And weekdays would naturally be quieter. We also intentionally planned an evening adventure so we could sleep in, so it just depends on what your early rising / adventure preference is. 

If you want a nice Instagrammable photo, you’ll definitely want to avoid the crowds so I was *thrilled* that no one else was around when we visited! If there are other people there when you arrive, please be courteous if their Instagrammable needs (and hopefully others will be courteous of yours!) 

According to AllTrails, the suspension bridge is closed during the winter and you aren’t allowed to snowshoe across it, so it’s definitely more of a spring, summer, fall experience. 

Check out my 15 second video from the Blackshale Suspension Bridge!

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Great Grams of Gary - Adventure Cat
Me and Great Grams of Gary at the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis Country!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
We had the bridge to ourselves!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Great Grams of Gary - Adventure Cat
Great Grams of Gary is pretty patient as we took pictures, lol.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Great Grams of Gary - Adventure Cat
All the bridge angles!

Other tips for your Blackshale Suspension Bridge adventure:

There is no service in Kananaskis Country!!! 

I repeat, there is no service in Kananaskis Country!!!! lol. 

Your Google Maps should still function without service because, well I don’t know how Google does it but I’m grateful it does. Just in case, you could zoom in and screenshot the directions / general route before you start driving into Kananaskis Country.

But expect to save your actual social media posts for after the adventure (which is fine and probably is a good thing that it forces you to be somewhat in the moment and really enjoy the stunning surroundings). 

I’ve mostly shared the following tips throughout this post but to summarize:

  • Go early morning or later in the evening to avoid crowds.
  • Don’t take TOO long to get your Instagrammable pics if others are around—be respectful of time.
  • You can bring your dog (or adventure cat), they just need to be leashed.
  • Have your photographer take photos on the bridge with you, but also off the bridge at a side angle.
  • Wear comfy shoes! I’ve learned even as a casual mountain adventurer, comfy shoes are so important and only just this year I finally invested in a pair of KEEN Canada hiking shoes/sandals.
  • You won’t find much for food in the area, so plan for your meal before/after in Canmore.
  • Don’t go in the winter—the bridge won’t be open.
  • There is no service, so be prepared for that.

If you’re more than a casual adventurer, you could plan a whole day of hikes in Kananaskis Country! 

If you’re a casual adventurer like me, this may be your big adventure for the day and that is A-OK!

But you should also add a dip at Lower Kananaskis Lake on your way out, which is what we did! 

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
Get photos of the bridge from the side too!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
Never enough suspension bridge photos.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
Ashleigh and Dukie!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails - Keens Canada
Rocking our Keens during this mountain adventure. (Get proper shoes for hikes!)
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Hiking - Trails
The view from Blackshale Suspension Bridge in Kananaskis Country.

Don’t forget to visit Lower Kananaskis Lake!

There are two big lakes in Kananaskis Country—Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. 

On your way in or out of the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge, you’ll drive past Lower Kananaskis Lake! 

With our 8 p.m. bridge adventure timing, the sun was setting and we were treated to stunning pink and purple sky as we were leaving the bridge. Thanks to excited yells by Ashleigh, James pulled over and we got to watch the sun set and go for a sunset swim in Lower Kananaskis Lake. An amazing memory!

With amazing photos…!!!

I highly recommend planning a swim / visit to Lower Kananaskis Lake since you’re going to be in the area!

Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Kananaskis Lake
The sunset at Lower Kananaskis Lake was so pretty!
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Kananaskis Lake
Oh that behind me? That's real yes, not a painting! lol.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Kananaskis Lake
Great Grams of Gary at Kananaskis Lake, Alberta.
Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Kananaskis Lake
Perfect doggo adventure too.

Where should you stay while visiting Canmore / Kananaskis / Banff?

Finally, there are a few places you can stay right in Kananaskis Country, but I would recommend Canmore as your “base camp” for adventure. And if you’re staying in Canmore, I’d recommend a stay at the Coast Canmore Hotel!

I stayed at this great hotel during a Rocky Mountain visit in 2019 and look forward to staying there again during a September 2020 visit (not sponsored—but they will be hosting me). The Coast Canmore has a great restaurant (Table Food + Drink) and Instagrammable Walls in their rooms.

Since my last visit, they’ve completely upgraded their pool and fitness area. And with the pandemic, they’ve made changes to ensure a clean and safe stay, including enhanced cleaning and increased frequency of sanitizing public spaces, physical distancing signage, hotel staff PPE, physical distancing signage and more. 

If you’re looking to book your getaway this Fall 2020, they told me they’re offering a “Larch” promo which is 30% off their best available rate to encourage Albertans to visit the beautiful rockies as the colours turn, or stay one night – get one night FREE, if you book through November 2020 (click to learn about the Create Some Space with a Local Hike promo)

Again, this blog and experience is not sponsored. I’m a fan of the Coast Canmore Hotel and they are hosting me for an adventure this Sept 2020, but I was blogging about this adventure regardless so am just including Coast Canmore info because I think it’s useful and relevant for you readers. :)

Coast Canmore Hotel - Canmore Kananaskis - Explore Alberta - Travel
The gorgeous view from the Coast Canmore Hotel!

So that’s my lil guide to a Blackshale Suspension Bridge and Lower Kananaskis Lake adventure in Kananaskis Country near Canmore, Alberta! I hope you enjoy your visit and if you do and this blog helped you just a little bit, let me know! I love seeing people replicating my adventure / travel itineraries. 

Remember to stay safe on your travels as well! 

Linda

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Blackshale Suspension Bridge - Kananaskis Country - Canmore - Explore Alberta - Travel Guide - Lower Kananaskis Lake
Use and share my Guide to the Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge and Lower Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta!

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