Kananaskis Country is one of my favourite places in winter to go snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Even though it’s easy to do these things as a day trip from Calgary, it’s way more fun if you can stay overnight in the area so you can take advantage of all the activities – without a 90 minute drive in each direction.
Recently we spent a couple of nights in the new glamping tents in Mount Engadine Lodge off of the Spray Lakes Road in Kananaskis Country. On the first full day we took full advantage of the cross-country ski trails at Mount Shark. But on the second day we were after something fast and easy before the drive back to Calgary. We’d never snowshoed the Hogarth Lakes Loop and figured that would do the trick. It did.
(Note: There are two other options for overnight stays in the Kananaskis area: winter camping at the Mount Kidd RV Park off of Highway 40 or a stay at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge with its new outdoor spa.)
If you’re looking for a short, easy, family-friendly snowshoeing outing the Hogarth Lakes Loop snowshoe trail sure fits the bill. You can knock the 4.5 kilometres off in just over an hour if you’re fast, and in a couple of hours if you’re moving at a family-friendly pace.
While there is signage along with snowshoe markers along the Hogarth Lakes Loop, you still have to pay attention, at least if it’s your first time on the trail. We snowshoed in a counter-clockwise direction and in short order missed one of the bright orange snowshoe signs and ended up following the snowshoe tracks of others until we could see the parking lot off in the distance. Oops. After retracing our steps, we noticed the orange markers in the distant trees and so managed to find the trail.
The Hogarth Lake Loop meanders through woods – which if its windy will be warmer – and skirts one of the lakes (markers were few and far between here) before returning to a wider, more traveled trail that heads to Burstall Pass. As you can see from the photos there is almost no elevation gain.
Finding the trailhead for Hogarth Lakes
The Hogarth Lakes Loop shares a trailhead with Burstall Pass – which is signed on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road. It’s directly across from the parking lot at the Chester Lake Trailhead – which is another supremely popular but more difficult snowshoe trail. From the Canmore Nordic Centre it’s 41.5 kilometres along the Smith Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road; from the turnoff to the Nakiska Ski Area turnoff, its 49 kilometres via Highway 40 and the Smith Dorrien Road.
For more ideas on easy snowshoeing trails in the Rockies you might want to buy a copy of A Beginner’s Guide to Snowshoeing in the Canadian Rockies.
Note: The Spray Lakes – Smith Dorrien Road is gravel and while it’s plowed and sanded, expect winter driving conditions. The area is in a snow belt.
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Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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