I am an avid runner. I will be visiting British Columbia for the first time, soon. My trip will include a few weeks in the Rocky Mountains (Glacier, Banff, Yoho) and north of the Sushwap Lake. At least the former regions are "bear country". While I have looked up recommendations about hiking in bear habitats and about possible bear encounters (also on this site), I am unsure what they imply about going for a run for an hour or two.

Where do people in these or any other bear-populated regions run? Which precautions do they observe, if any?

I would love to explore the natural surroundings in my running shoes, but as a second best, I would contend myself with saver but less interesting routes.

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    What kind of bears are there in this area? Grizzlies are a different deal from black bears.
    – user2169
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 22:55
  • Estimated grizzly population: Banff National Park: 65, Yoho National Park: 11-15. Estimated black bear population: Banff National Park: 20-40, Yoho National Park: 20-50 (2013 data). Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 23:11
  • @ben That's my neck of the woods, we've got grizzlies, black bears, cougars, everything.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jun 29, 2015 at 23:52
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    @Shem can't help myself but had to laugh at 4:50 "resuming workout" ...
    – Wills
    Commented Jun 30, 2015 at 4:24
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    @henning Don't fret about it, I passed some runners in the backcountry in the Crowsnest Pass today (the next mountain pass south of Banff), they weren't carrying anything special, just running with their normal gear. National Parks issue notices when there are bears in the area, just check the trail notices or ask at the visitors centre and they'll be able to tell you what the bear situation in the park is.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jul 1, 2015 at 4:30

2 Answers 2


It's when you're moving quickly and quietly along the trail that you're most likely to encounter a bear in the Rockies, and that's because they're easier to sneak up on that way. I run into more bears when I'm on my mountain bike than when I'm hiking.

Large predators use trails as often as people do. If you're not making enough noises to identify yourself as human, then you might not give the wildlife enough notice to get off of the trail ahead of you. While trail running, you're typically concentrating on breathing and don't talk a lot, you're also focused on the trail, so you yourself are often unaware of what's on the trail not far ahead.

Most of the time the bears will startle and run off the trail, but if you're cruising along, and round a corner right up behind a grizzly bear, it could act defensively. This is the scenario where you would play dead, the bear might paw at you for a bit, but if you play dead it'll figure it's taught you your lesson and then wander off.

Black bears are completely different. If you play dead with them there is a chance they're figure they just scored a free meal and start eating you. With black bears you either have to scare them off, or fight them off. Both scenarios are rare.

Best thing to do is to sing while you run alone or shout down the trail occasionally. But it's always advisable to run with a partner, someone you can talk to while you run, and who can help you tag-team intimidate a bear if you encounter one.

They sell small cans of bear spray at the till in the markets in the mountain towns. It might be wise to pick one up and run with a water pack to carry it in just to be extra safe, but I can pretty much assure you that 99.9% of the time the bear will wander off to a safe distance. That safe distance is quite a bit shorter in national parks however, bears are quite more accustomed to people there.

For the most part you don't need to worry about bears. You may see some, thousands of people do in the Rockies, especially in national parks. Enjoy your runs, just make sure you know what to do in the unlikely event of a dangerous encounter.

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    I live in Banff and the joggers here bring bear spray, and if you're jogging anywhere that's not open you're advised to make noise (sing, shout regularly) and not to wear headphones.
    – furtive
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 3:11

I would suggest for you to attach some kind of small bells or something that will produce noise, on the shoes, hands, and your belt. Mobile would not be recomended because battery might die on your trip. So every time you run it will signal every one in the nature, HERE I AM. After some time you will not notice the sounds.

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    Current line of thinking is that bear bells are ineffective, as they aren't loud enough, I've seen research but this is the best link I can find right now: calgaryjournalonline.ca/news/34-news/…
    – furtive
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 3:09
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    Bear bells are a farce. They're a placebo sold to tourists to give them a false sense of security and make shops some easy money.
    – ShemSeger
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 3:36
  • I was not aware obout bells beeing inefective... But since anything can be inefective if sound volume that is producing is low...
    – user5890
    Commented Jul 6, 2015 at 19:55

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