If you love a good waterfall hike, then put the Ribbon Falls hike in Kananaskis…
The 10.0 km return hike to Rummel Lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, is a great choice if you want an easy mountain hike that leads to a lake partially ringed by larch trees. You won’t find nearly the crowds on this hike that you do on the nearby hike to popular Chester Lake.
The Rummel Lake hike – which gains just 315 m in total, also offers beautiful views of the Spray Lakes Reservoir. In addition you can ogle horseshoe-shaped Tent Ridge across the Smith-Dorrien Road – perhaps another hiking adventure you’ll will want to contemplate on a fine summer day. This one though is for serious hikers.
There is also the option to continue past the lake to Rummel Pass, something I haven’t done yet. I understand it adds another 5 km round-trip and an additional 185 m of elevation gain.
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Finding the trailhead
There is no official parking lot for Rummel Lake but fortunately the trailhead is easy to find. Drive the Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail either 35 km from the Canmore Nordic Centre or 32.5 km from the intersection of Highway 40 and Kananaskis Lakes Trail.
The trailhead is directly across the road from the turnoff to Mt. Shark Road and Mount Engadine Lodge pictured below. Park on the road – and be prepared to come back to a dusty vehicle.
Rummel Lake – how the hike unfolds
Before you start hiking, have a look at the map at the start of the trailhead. As you can see the hike starts off on a trail that heads southeast and then curves left. While you’re climbing up towards the High Rockies Trail, the grade is always gentle. In fact the grade is either gentle or moderate for the full length of the hike.
Meet the High Rockies Trail and a big bench with a view of the Spray Lakes after 20 – 25 minutes of hiking.
While there is no signage, you need to go left at the intersection and continue on the High Rockies Trail for perhaps 5-10 minutes. Someone had made an arrow out of sticks and stones showing that you need to turn left, but it won’t be obvious to everyone.
At the next intersection, after 10 minutes of hiking, go right. You’ll immediately see a sign for Rummel Lake. Now you’re into more mature forest made up primarily of fir and spruce. In June the forest smelled fresh – almost delicious.
When I did this hike during the third week of June we ran into snow approximately 30 minutes from the lake. It was spotty at first until we crossed the bridge over Rummel Creek. We didn’t have gaiters, but if you’d been a week or two earlier, they would have come in handy. Continue up through the trees – with little in the way of views until you pop out at Rummel Lake beside an outlet. It will likely have taken you somewhere between 1.5 – 2 hours to reach the lake. The snow definitely slowed us down a tad.
Admire 3,185 m high Mt. Galatea rising from the southeast shore of the lake as you enjoy lunch by the unbelievably clear lake. Wildflowers were starting their show in June – with marsh marigolds leading the pack.
Retrace your steps to return to the trailhead in approximately 90 minutes.
This is bear country so be smart. Speak loudly at times, especially if you see signs of bears and always carry a can of bear spray that is both easy to access and that is no more than three years old. (Some people say two years old.)
Where to stay nearby
The closest accommodation option and one of my favourites in Alberta is Mount Engadine Lodge. They offer the choice of lodge rooms or glamping tents – along with one yurt for those who want to save a little money. From my glamping tent, I walked 175 paces to reach the Rummel Lake trailhead.
If you not interested in an overnight stay I’d still recommend treating yourself to afternoon tea at Mt Engadine Lodge. Reservations are recommended. They have great social distancing measures in place so you can feel safe while you sip and eat.
Campers might want to check out the Spray Lakes West Campground, about a 35 minute drive away. In Peter Lougheed Provincial Park there are numerous campsites – Interlakes (first come, first served), Boulton Creek (reservable), Lower Lake (reservable) ,Canyon (first come, first served), Elkwood (reservable) and Mt Sarrail for walk-in tenting.
Before you head out on the hike, check out the trail reports on the Alberta Parks website.
Further reading on hikes in the area
- The Gorgeous Sparrowhawk Tarns Hike near Canmore
- The Hike to Black Prince Cirque
- The Hike to Burstall Pass in Kananaskis Country
- A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananaskis Lake
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