Recommended Canadian Rockies Guidebooks

The books recommended below are ideal companions for our Gem Trek maps. We have copies of all these books below, and use them regularly when exploring the Canadian Rockies.

Although a few of our recommendations below are out of print, they are well worth searching out. An online search will find copies for sale at websites such as

Best Day Hikes in Banff National Park

Backcountry Huts & Lodges of the Rockies & ColumbiasBy Brian Patton, Summerthought Publishing, 1st edition 2019

Co-author of the bestselling Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, Brian Patton details his favourite easy walks, short hikes and day trips in the Banff area. Each trail is described in detail and accompanied by a map and color photos. The trails are color-coded by region to make it easy to plan your outings. Patton has been interpreting the natural and human history of the Canadian Rockies for more than 50 years, so you are in excellent hands here.

Canadian Rockies Trail Guide

Canadian Rockies Trail GuideBrian Patton and Bart Robinson, Summerthought Publishing, 10th edition 2022.

This comprehensive trail guide covers more than 3,400 kilometres of trails in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes National Parks, plus the provincial parks of Mt. Assinboine, Mt. Robson, Akamina-Kishinena, Peter Lougheed, and Elk Lakes. 229 major trails are described, with the emphasis on major dayhikes and backpacking trips. Well laid-out, easy-to-follow trail distances, junction mileages and elevation gains, along with with well-written descriptions. This has been the locals’ “trail bible” since the first edition was published in 1971 and has sold more than 280,000 copies.

Backcountry Huts & Lodges of the Rockies & Columbias

Backcountry Huts & Lodges of the Rockies & ColumbiasBy Jim Scott, Johnson Gorman Publishers, 2001

Although now out of print, Backcountry Huts & Lodges is a veritable treasure trove of information. Scott breaks the region into six chapters, each with many huts you probably have never heard off. Having been published in the early 2000s, prices and contact information has mostly changed, but the general hut information is timeless.

Canadian Rockies eBook Hiking Guides

Canadian Rockies eBook Hiking GuidesBy Brian Patton and Bart Robinson, Summerthought Publishing, 2018-2023

Priced between $3 and $5, these Kindle edition hiking guides feature detailed descriptions of day hikes throughout the Canadian Rockies, with specific guides to Banff National Park, Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, and Lake O’Hara. Designed for Kindle readers, tablets and iPhones and utilizing the free Kindle app, this gives you the ability to print off just the distance outline, or the entire trail description and map to take with you.

Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

Fire Lookout HikesBy Mike Potter, Luminous Compositions, 2nd edition, 2008.

Fire lookouts are natural hiking destinations. They have good access and are situated on vantage points that allow sweeping panoramas. This now-out-of-print book covers 101 hikes to active lookouts and the sites of former lookouts in Alberta, British Columbia, and Glacier National Park in Montana, plus a chapter on fire lookouts in literature. Includes a wealth of historical, wildlife and wildflower notes, as well as 135 color photos and 60 color area maps.

Handbook of the Canadian Rockies

Handbook of the Canadian RockiesBy Ben Gadd, Corax Press, 3th edition, 2016

With over 800 pages and 1,200 illustrations, this is the most comprehensive field guide to the Canadian Rockies you can ever hope to find. It covers geology, plants, birds, animals, history and recreation from Waterton Lakes in southern Alberta to the Yukon in northern Canada. You’ll find identification guides to everything from bats and bees to mushrooms and fossils, as well as birds, mammals and flowers. An historical outline plus hiking and safety tips are also included. Gadd, a former Park interpreter, writes with a direct style that is a pleasure to read.

Hiking Canada’s Great Divide Trail

Great Divide Trail bookBy Dustin Lynx, Rocky Mountain Books, 4th edition 2022.

If you are planning to tackle the 1,100-kilometre (683-mile) Great Divide Trail (GDT), which runs from the U.S. border north to Kakwa Lake, this book is a must-read. Lynx helps hikers piece together the myriad of individual routes to form a continuous trail along the Divide. Outlining the seven major sections of the GDT, Lynx breaks the trail into segments and describes the terrain and condition of each segment. The book includes indispensable pre-trip planning advice, helping you overcome daunting logistical challenges such as resupply, navigation, and access.

Kananaskis Trail Guides, Volumes 1 to 5

Kananaskis Trail Guide bookBy Gillean Daffern, Rocky Mountain Books, new editions from 2023 onwards

Kananskis Country is a premier hiking area just west and south of Calgary. These five guidebooks cover this area in detail. The emphasis is on major day hikes with many “unofficial trails,” included, which may require route-finding skills and some minor scrambling. The five volumes are:
Vol. 1: Kananaskis Valley, Elk Lakes and the Smith-Dorrien (Hwy 732).
Vol. 2: West Bragg Creek, the Elbow and Jumpingpound areas.
Vol. 3: The Ghost, Bow Valley, Canmore, and the Spray Valley.
Vol. 4: Sheep Valley, Gorge Creek and North Fork.
Vol. 5: Highwood, Flat Creek, Upper Livingstone and Willow Creek.

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies

Scrambles in the Canadian RockiesBy Alan Kane, Rocky Mountain Books, 3rd edition, 2016

More than 100 favorite scrambles are graded and described. They range from easy walk-ups for experienced hikers to hands-on scrambles for novice climbers. Includes 155 black and white route-marked photos.




World of Lake Louise, The

Wonder of Lake LouiseBy Don Beers, Highline Publishing, 1991

In the 1980s and 1990s, Calgarian Don Beers produced the most detailed and beautifully illustrated hiking guides we’ve ever seen—to any region of the world. Other books in the series include Jasper-Robson: A Taste of Heaven, The Magic of Lake O’Hara, and Banff-Assiniboine: A Beautiful World. These books are now out of print, but for outdoor enthusiasts they are well worth finding to add to your library.