Rummel Lake Hike in Kananaskis Country

Rummel Lake is in an austere setting
Rummel Lake is in an austere setting - this is the third week of June

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. It’s also a popular snowshoeing trail in winter.

The Rummel Lake hike – which gains just 421 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.

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Breaking through the trees at Rummel Lake
Breaking through the trees on arrival at Rummel Lake

Rummel Lake hike summary

Permit: Purchase a Kananaskis Conservation Pass before you start the hike. If you’re planning to do a lot of hiking, buy the year long pass for $90. It can register up to two vehicles at one address.

Maps: If you’re a map person, I’d recommend both a copy ofGem Trek Kananaskis LakesandGem TrekCanmore and Kananaskis Village.

Trail conditions: Before you head out on the hike, check out the trail reports on the Alberta Parks website.

Distance: The Rummel Lake hike is 10.0 km (5.2 miles) round-trip to the lake. Add 5.0 km (3.1 miles) round-trip if you hike to Rummel Pass and Lost Lake. Don’t hike to the pass in winter because of avalanche danger.

Elevation gain: 421 m or 1,381 feet to the lake and an additional 185 m or 607 feet to the pass.

Level of difficulty: I’d rate the Rummel Lake hike as moderate.

Time needed: Allow 3 – 4 hours for the return hike to Rummel Lake. Add an extra 1 – 1.5 hours return for the pass.

Rummel Lake elevation: Rummel Lake is at an elevation of 2,220 m or 7,281 feet. Rummel Pass sits at 2,405 m or 7888 feet.

Dogs: Permitted on the trail but keep them leashed.

Bears: Be sure to pack easy to access bear spray.

Camping: There is a backcountry campground at Rummel Lake BUT it’s only open in winter, roughly from December 19 – April 1.

Facilities: There is an outhouse up at the lake.

Swimming: In the height of the summer, adventurous types might want to cool off in Rummel Lake. 

Don’t forget: Tell someone where you are going, pack out what you pack in and always carry the hiking essentials.

Finding the Rummel Lake 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.

The trailhead for the lake is directly across from turnoff to the Mt Shark Road
The trailhead for the lake is directly across from the turnoff to the Mt Shark Road
Location map showing Rummel north of Chester Lake
Location map showing the lake north of Chester Lake

Rummel Lake hike description

Before you start hiking, have a look at the map at the start of the trailhead. As you can see the hike to Rummel Lake 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.

Good views within about 20 minutes of starting the hike
Good views within about 20 minutes of starting the Rummel Lake hike
A stop to enjoy the view at a bench on the High Rockies Trail
A stop to enjoy the view at a bench on the High Rockies Trail

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.

Admiring Tent Ridge
Admiring horseshoe shaped Tent Ridge – another hike I’d love to do
Go left when you reach the High Rockies Trail
Go left when you reach the High Rockies Trail (that’s an arrow of sorts on the ground)
Leaving the High Rockies Trail
Leaving the High Rockies Trail with signage letting you know you’re on the right track to Rummel 
Some signage on the way to the lake
Some signage on the way to Rummel Lake

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.)

Our dog cooling off in the snow
Our dog cooling off in the snow
Cross this bridge about 20 - 25 min before the lake
Cross this bridge about 20 – 25 min before the lake
Marsh marigolds just staring to bloom
Marsh marigolds just starting to bloom in late June 
What an austere setting
What an austere setting
Clear cold water at the lake
Clear cold water at the lake

A few things to take on the hike

If you’re hiking to Rummel Lake early in the season, you’ll findhiking gaiters to be invaluable. 

Come late June and July, it’s worth carryingbug spray

It’s way more comfortable and you won’t lose as much heat if you have an insulated sitting pad like this inflatable seat.

Consider bringing some extra clothes, especially early and late in the hiking season. Layering is always a great idea. I like alightweight down sweaterfor instant warmth. Always take an extrapair of dry socks in case you get a soaker.

Where to stay nearby

The closest accommodation option and one of my favourites in Alberta isMount 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. If the weather is lovey you can enjoy the charcuterie plate outside on the deck with a view.

Afternoon tea at Mt Engadine Lodge includes a charcuterie plate
Afternoon tea at Mt Engadine Lodge includes a charcuterie plate

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.

Your other option is to stay in Kananaskis Village at theKananaskis Mountain Lodge or at theKananaskis Wilderness Hostel

In Canmore theMalcolm Hotelwith its pool with a view is a lovely choice.

If you like the B&B experience check outA Bear and Bison Country Inn

A welcoming entrance to the Bear and Bison Inn
A welcoming entrance to the Bear and Bison Inn

Interested in more hiking off the Smith Dorrien Road?

Check out these hikes if you want to do more exploring nearby. 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

Rummel Lake hike in Alberta's Kananaskis Country

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