If you love a good waterfall hike, then put the Ribbon Falls hike in Kananaskis…
The loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake is a moderate one that offers lake side walking along with beautiful mountain views. I’d classify the 15.8 km hike as easy if it weren’t for its length. You never have to climb more than 60 m above Upper Kananaskis Lake but the trail is undulating and there is a surprising amount of vertical over its length.
Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop Starting Point
Reach the trailheads in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park after approximately a two hour drive from Calgary. Take Highway 40 and then Highway 742 and follow the signs.
We started our hike from the parking lot near the North Interlakes picnic area. The other option is to park at the Upper Lake Trailhead. (See photo of the map at the end of the post.)
We opted to hike in a counter clockwise direction though I don’t think it really matters. We did the hike in November before the snow arrived. It’s also a great early season hike and it would be an awesome hike in summer.
What you see on the loop hike
Mountain views from the get-go are excellent especially if you catch a bluebird day. You can see Mount Lyautey, Mount Sarrail, Mount Foch and Mount Fox from portions of the trail.
Cross the dam and enjoy a pleasant walk through the forest alongside the lake until you reach a section of rockfall called the Palliser Slide. Look up to your right and you’ll see Mount Indefatigable.
Upper Kananaskis Lake Camping
Hike counterclockwise around Upper Kananaskis Lake. Once you’re through the rockfall reach The Point Backcountry Campground. This is one of the nicest campgrounds I’ve come across in Alberta. Camp sites are scattered across the peninsula and some overlook the lake. All have tent pads and picnic tables and there’s a good supply of firewood provided. Book early for summer weekends.
Continuing counterclockwise around the lake
From there it’s a long stretch of walking along the south shore of Upper Kananaskis Lake – past a couple of waterfalls. For the most part the views are still excellent and there’s even the rare bench to rest your by now weary body.
Look for the trail to Rawson Lake. If you have the energy it would be very worthwhile. You can continue even further up to Sarrail Ridge. Otherwise come back and hike into it from the Upper Lake Trailhead and enjoy it as a much shorter day hike.
The final section of trail hugs the shoreline of the lake. I was in awe of the number of old tree trunks with a new life as driftwood.
All told allow approximately five hours to hike the full loop. An out and back hike especially starting where we did would also be a great way to spend a few hours.
The photos take you on a loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake in a counterclockwise direction.
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The 5 things that come with me on almost every hike
I like something comfortable to sit on at lunch time. I love by my almost weightless inflatable seat cushion.
I like using hiking poles, the older I get. On this hike, you aren’t dealing with steep terrain but it’s long enough that it could help take pressure off your knees and hips.
I always pack a buff – great on window days to keep the hair out of your face or on a cool day to warm your neck.
Another nice addition for those of you who love wildflowers is the book Popular Wildflowers of Alberta and the Canadian Rockies.
Other nearby hikes you might enjoy include the following:
- The King Creek Ridge Hike in Kananaskis Country
- The Hike to Black Prince Cirque
- The Hike to Burstall Pass in Kananaskis Country
- Kananaskis Hikes: Opal Ridge South
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