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A Loop Hike Around Upper Kananaskis Lake

Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop Hike

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.

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
The start of the Upper Kananaskis Loop also provides nice views of Lower Kananaskis Lake

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.

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
It’s a windy day when the lake is nothing but whitecaps
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
For most of the hike you’re in close proximity to Upper Kananaskis Lake
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
Part way around the lake you reach the Palliser Slide and nothing but mountain views
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
Check your mileage with this map
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
A pretty forest section with mountain views
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
The campsite is close by
The beautiful Point Backcounty Campground
There’s a beautiful campground beside the lake with excellent, private campsites
Map with a layout of campsites at the Point Backcountry Campground
Book a campsite 90 days out through Alberta Parks
A waterfall you pass on the loop around Upper Kananasksis Lake
Pass a couple of waterfalls on this hike
Cool off in this small waterfall in the summer
Cool off here in the summer
The mossy beauty of the forest
Enjoy the mossy beauty of the forest
Sign pointing to Rawson Lake
If you’ve got the energy you could add on an out and back to Rawson Lake
Spectacular view of Upper Kananaskis Lake
Don’t mind if I do stop and admire the view
Off trail exploring on log strewn beaches
There’s some off trail exploring to do as well – especially in summer
Masses of dead logs along Upper Kananaskis Lake
Campfire anyone?
Practicing bagpipes along this trail
I guess practicing bagpipes along this trail is a good a place as any – probably keeps the bears away
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
Back full circle – 15.8 km later
A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake
Take a picture of the map on your phone as a backup – so you always have it with you

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

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. 

No matter how the day starts I always carry rain gear. And I find a ball cap or brim hat with a chin strap invaluable in the rain or on a hot, in your face sunny day.

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:

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

A loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake


Leigh McAdam

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 12 Comments

  1. Hello Leigh:

    If you bike in to the Point, is it along a fire road? I have a Burley trailer for my MTB and have been looking for a place to go backpacking by bike. Single track wouldn’t work… LOL!

    1. @Mandy I’d say going clockwise it definitely wouldn’t work as there is the rock pile to deal with. Going the other way it’s narrow at times. I’d call the rangers at Kananaskis and get their comments. At the very least its an easy awesome backpacking trip.

  2. […] The Rawson Lake hike in Alberta’s Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is one of a few that you can do year-round, no matter what the weather throws at you. You can knock it off in half a day – whether you hike it in summer or snowshoe it in winter. It’s family-friendly if your kids are regular hikers and are 8 years of age or older. If you want to do a full day of hiking, outside of winter, you can add in the hike-scramble to Sarrail Ridge or the full loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake. […]

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