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    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    375 m
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    15.6 km
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    2-3 days
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical DIFF
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Technical DIFF
    Directions to Trailhead

    Rae Lake

    Panorama on Rae Lake backpacking trail near Kananaskis, the Canadian Rockies

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    Table of contents

    Rae Lake is often completed as a day-hike, however it is a great place for a quick backpacking trip. Lying at the base of gigantic Mount Rae, Rae Lake is a wonderful place to spend a night, take a swim, and admire the wildflowers and larch forest on nearby ridges.

    Route Description for Rae Lake

    Rae Lake is nestled below the north end of Mt. Rae and the east of Tombstone Pass. This beautiful and peaceful lake is rarely-visited. While it is easily accessible as a day hike, it is a great destination for a quick and easy overnight. An unofficial campsite exists near the outlet stream, however it is best to stay in the meadows above the lake.

    Day 1

    The route is fairly simple, as you follow the trail to Elbow Lake. Once at Elbow Lake the views really are spectacular. Take the trail on the left of Elbow Lake and cross over the Elbow River at the far end of the Lake. You will continue up the valley with the Elbow River on your left.

    Roughly 5.3 km from leaving the parking lot, a cairned trail to Rae Lake branches off to the right of the main trail.

    After a short distance in the trees, emerge into the open, next to a grassy hill. A short distance further, the trail branches; head right for the most direct route to Rae Lake. The trail quickly becomes less distinct and overgrown in places, but it is relatively easy to follow as it weaves its way up and over the bald ridge to the southeast.

    Cresting the ridge, the cirque holding Rae Lake pops into view. Rae Lake is just 5 minutes further at this point. While the trail has mostly disappeared, just walk towards Mt. Rae through grassy meadows and you'll be able to locate the trail again. Camp near the trail in the meadows, or continue on the trail to the outlet stream where there is a more established campsite with a fire pit. As this is in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park, random camping is permitted, however please be a considerate camper, and leave as little trace of your staying there as possible.

    The larch trees in the area are abundant, making this an incredible fall camping destination. The approach to Rae Lake and the ridge to the east of Rae Lake are covered in larches. With the backdrop of Mt. Rae, this would be as nice as many of the more popular larch hikes and significantly less crowded.

    Day 2

    Return the way you hiked in back to your car at the Elbow Pass Day Use Area.

    Sample Itinerary:

    Day 1: Trailhead to Rae Lake (8.0 km / 363 m)

    Day 2: Rae Lake to Trailhead (8.0 km / 128 m)

    Insider Hints for Rae Lake

    • Come in the fall to see the Larches!
    • As Rae Lake is in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park, you can random camp. IF you do this, there are rules. The most important is to leave no trace, as failure to be responsible random campers will eventually result in this privilege being removed.

    Getting to the Rae Lake Trailhead

    From Calgary, head west on highway 1 and take exit 118 toward Kananaskis Country, then turn left onto Kananaskis trail/Hwy 40 and follow for 62.0 km. The Elbow Pass Day Use Area will be on your left and is the start of the trail.

    Route Information

    • When to do:

      July - October

    • Mountain Huts:


    • Backcountry Campsites:


    • Toilets:

      At trailhead

    • Pets allowed:

      Yes - On Leash

    • Accommodation Type:


    • Family friendly:


    • Route Signage:


    • Crowd Levels:


    • Route Type:

      Out and back

    Rae Lake Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather


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