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A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

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If you’re looking for a moderate hike that offers lake side walking along with beautiful mountain views, opt for the loop around Upper Kananaskis Lake. I’d classify the 15.8 kilometre hike as easy if it weren’t for its length. You never have to climb more than 60 metres above Upper Kananaskis Lake but the trail is undulating and there is a surprising amount of vertical over its 15.8 kilometres.

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

The start of the Upper Kananaskis Loop also provides nice views of Lower Kananaskis Lake

Where to start the Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop

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.

Hiking the Upper Kananaskis Lake loop – what you’ll see

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.

Continue on a good trail through the rockfall to 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.

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. 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.

The photos take you on a hike around the lake in a counterclockwise direction.

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

It’s a windy day when Kananaskis 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

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

There’s a beautiful campground beside the lake with excellent, private campsites

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

Book a campsite 90 days out

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

Pass a couple of waterfalls on this hike

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

Cool off here in the summer

Enjoy the mossy beauty of the forest

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

If you’ve got the energy you could add on an out and back to Rawson Lake

Don’t mind if I do stop and admire the view

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

There’s some off trail exploring to do as well – especially in summer

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

Campfire anyone?

A Loop Hike Around Beautiful Upper Kananasksis Lake

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 kms 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

Enjoy this pretty hike and even the drive to get here. 

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 4 Comments

  • Kristen says:

    Is this the one with the stunning campsite you mentioned? How do you book a campsite there if so?

  • Mandy says:

    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!

    • @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.

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