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A loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake
Beautiful lake scenery around the Point Campground

Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop Hike

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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

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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 are private. Book early for summer weekends.

One of the campsites at the Point Campground
One of the campsites at the Point Campground

Hiking description 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 counterclockwise on a loop hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake 

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
Group area to sit and enjoy the scenery that is close to the water
Group area to sit and enjoy the scenery that is close to Upper Kananaskis Lake
The Point Campground has been completely redesigned
The Point Campground has been completely redesigned
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
Rawson Lake in mid-June when the ice is leaving
Rawson Lake in mid-June when the ice is leaving
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

Where to stay nearby

There is lots of camping available in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Campgrounds can be reserved 90 days in advance. You’ll find lots of detailed information here.

If you want a roof over your head I highly recommend either Mount Engadine Lodge or Kananaskis Mountain Lodge.

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

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.

The moderate Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop hike in Alberta

 

 

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