- Physical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the physical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
- Technical DifficultyThis is the average user-submitted rating on the technical difficulty of this route. In general, green is beginner, blue is intermediate, black is advanced/most difficult and double-black is expert-only. It is recommended that users build up to black and double-black routes.
Resting at the base of jagged Tombstone Mountain, the Tombstone Lakes are a spectacular sight, and the journey to them along the open upper reaches of the Elbow River is equally scenic. If you’re looking for a beautiful, short backpacking trip in the Kananaskis, this should definitely be one you consider.
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Route Description for Tombstone Lakes
This is a great backpack for beginners or those who don’t want to carry a heavy pack too long, but still see a stunning mountain lake.
Starting at the Elbow Lake Trailhead, follow the wide trail to the Elbow Lake backcountry campground. When you reach Elbow Lake, take the path that goes on the left-hand side of Elbow Lake.
At the far end of Elbow Lake, cross over the Elbow River and follow the Elbow River down the valley. You’ll notice some paths going off to the right (one of which takes you to the very pretty Rae Lake).
Soon you will cross the Elbow River, there is a new bridge across the Elbow River, the original was washed away in the 2013 floods. On the other side you will soon reach the Tombstone Backcountry Campground, which has 11 campsites, firepits and pit toilets. It’s roughly 7.4 km to the Tombstone Backcountry Campground.
It is important to note that if you do not have a permit to camp at Tombstone Backcountry Campground, random camping is not permitted in this area.
From the campground, it’s is a roughly 5.0 km route with 175 m of elevation gain to Upper Tombstone Lake. Many backpackers do it on the afternoon of the hike in, though you could leave it for a wonderful daytrip the next day. Upper Tombstone Lake has great fishing - just be sure to get a license first!
Retrace your steps back to the Elbow Pass Day Use Area. You could do a diversion to Rae Lake or Rae Glacier on your walk back.
Day 1: Trailhead to Tombstone Campground (7.5 km /175 m)
Day 2: Tombstone Campground to Trailhead (7.5 km/-150 m)
Insider Hints for Tombstone Lakes
- You cannot random camp near Tombstone Lakes, you need to camp in the designated backcountry campground and obtain a reservation and permit beforehand.
Getting to the Tombstone Lakes 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 along with the trailhead.
Tombstone Lakes Elevation Graph
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Tombstone Lakes Reviews
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