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View Of The Rocky Mountains From The Chester Lake Trail

Chester Lake Snowshoe in Kananaskis Country

The Chester Lake snowshoe is one of the prettiest snowshoeing outings you can do in Alberta. It’s also one of the most popular ones, so unless it’s a cloudy weekday, expect some company. Dogs are allowed on a leash too.

It’s a full day trip to do the Chester Lake snowshoe from Calgary as the drive is a solid 90 minutes each way. If you want to splurge, I highly recommend a stay at nearby Mount Engadine Lodge so you can roll out of bed and be on snowshoes within minutes. Or stay in Canmore and knock an hour of travel time off.

A dog dressed for the cold
A dog dressed for the cold on the way to Chester Lake

Details of the Chester Lake snowshoe 

The trail to Chester Lake begins at the left hand corner of the parking lot. It climbs steeply for the first few kilometres. Once you reach the large meadow, the aerobic workout is behind you. From the meadow the Chester Lake snowshoe is just a gentle climb through the trees to another smaller meadow before reaching Chester Lake itself. The mountains absolutely sparkle in this area on a bluebird day.

Do make the side trip, even though it’s a steep one – to Elephant Rocks. Giant sized boulders have been dropped helter- skelter and the views from there are magnificent. Really the mountain views once you clear the trees are top-notch, especially on one of Alberta’s bluebird winter days.

In total the trail climbs a not too difficult 310 metres.

If you want to see what Chester Lake looks like as a summer hike read The Chester Lake Hike in Alberta (+ Three Lakes Valley).

The start of the Chester Lake snowshoe trail involves a steep climb
The start of the snowshoe trail involves a steep climb
On weekends the trail to Chester Lake is busy - on weekdays we saw only a few other people
On weekends the trail to Chester Lake is busy – on weekdays we saw only a few other people
Gorgeous landscape on the way to Chester Lake
Gorgeous landscape on the way to Chester Lake
Snowshoeing to Chester Lake in Kananaskis Country
Non-stop views after you reach the meadows
The mountains feel very close on this snowshoe
The mountains feel very close on this snowshoe
Shrubs look beautiful covered with frost
Shrubs look beautiful covered with frost
Slopes you wouldn't want to be climbing
Slopes you wouldn’t want to be climbing
One small open stream needs to be crossed
One small open stream needs to be crossed
Mountain scenery near Chester Lake
Mountain scenery near Chester Lake
Snowshoeing through the Elephant Rocks
Snowshoeing through the Elephant Rocks on the Chester Lake snowshoe
Checking out the fabulous Elephant Rocks
Checking out the fabulous Elephant Rocks
Snowshoers heading back to the trailhead
Snowshoers heading back to the trailhead

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Where to stay near Chester Lake

If you want to be spoiled spend a night or two up at Mount Engadine Lodge, literally a few minute’s drive from the Chester Lake trailhead. It sure beats driving 90 minutes – 2 hours one way from Calgary first thing in the morning. They also offer a delicious afternoon tea.

Another choice would be in Kananaskis Village at either the Kananaskis Wilderness hostel or the Kananaskis Mountain Hotel – where the Kananaskis Nordic spa is located.

Finding the trailhead

Most people drive to the trailhead via Highway 40 from the Trans-Canada Highway – and not up the Spray Lakes Road from Canmore. There is a large parking lot at the trailhead, located on the east side of Smith Dorrien-Spray Lakes Road.

It’s about 20 kilometres north of Highway 40 – or 40 kilometres from Canmore. From Calgary, allow 90 minutes to two hours for the drive, depending on weather conditions.

I’ve done the Chester Lake snowshoe several times, always under great snow conditions. But if you’re reluctant to make the drive without knowing what you’re getting into check out the Kananaskis trail report online

Further reading on snowshoe trails

For more ideas on easy snowshoeing trails in the Rockies pick up a copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Snowshoeing to Chester Lake in Kananaskis Country

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 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 16 Comments

    1. @Marisol Antarctica – I’ve missed something and can’t get over how many interesting places you and Keith visit every year. Snow and ice can make for very interesting photographic opportunities.

  1. hi there i am interested to take small latin group (13 to 15 persons) to this lovely place the chester lake . never been there . could you give me more information please? what the best time to go, the best hour to do snowshoeing, i need a guide,? how long take , what winter clothes bring. as you see many questions. can you help me? Thank you
    Federico

    1. Hi Frederico
      The best time to go snowshoeing is from early December until early April – during daylight hours. People need to dress properly for the mountains. It’s not a hard trail and it’s a popular one. For a guide you could contact Mandy Johnson at activebynature@icloud.com. It’s usually about a 4 -5 hour round-trip outing. Contact her and she can help you but for winter clothes you could read this article – https://hikebiketravel.com/what-to-wear-in-canada-in-winter-on-a-20c-day/

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