Panorama from the Chester Lake hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis near Canmore
Panorama from the Chester Lake hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis near Canmore

Chester Lake Hike

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
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Lake and mountain on the Chester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrees and mountain on the Chester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreChester Lake Hike near Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis has amazing mountain viewsTrees on the Chester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreChester Lake Hike on Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis leads through the meadowBeautiful lake on the Chester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreBeautiful views of the Chester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis, near CanmoreChester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis surrounded by beautiful mountainsChester Lake Hike from Smith-Dorrien Trail in Kananaskis leads through forest

Chester Lake Hike

Distance: 5.8mi
Elevation: 1,050ft
Time: 2.5-3.5h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.7 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty

The Chester Lake hike is a great family route in Canmore, complete with a stunning alpine meadow and glistening lake nestled among towering peaks. The walk is perfect for multiple seasons, whether you come to snowshoe or take a ski tour in winter, or to see the larches change color in autumn. The trail is closed from May to late-June each year to prevent trail damage.

Chester Lake Hike Map

Getting there

The Chester Lake trailhead is located on the unpaved Highway 742, also known as the Smith-Dorrien Trail. From Canmore drive towards the Nordic Centre. Continue past the Nordic Centre and travel 25.5mi before reaching the parking lot. If you are coming from Kananaskis Lakes in the south, the distance is approximately 12.4mi.

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About

When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Chester Lake Hike
Elevation Graph


Chester Lake Trail Description

To start the Chester Lake trail, head to the northern end of the parking lot and find the broad path that ascends through the forest. From the early parts of the Chester Lake trail, you may notice occasional views across the valley to Mount Burstall, another fine hike to check out in the region.

After approximately 1.7mi, you’ll enter a clearing that gives just a taste of what’s ahead. This area can be exquisite in autumn with the diverse landscape colors creating truly magical scenery. Continue up ahead and emerge at a meadow before Chester Lake. Walk down to the lake, explore around the edges, and enjoy the ease with which you were able to get to this stunning beauty.

We love to have a long break, and explore the area around Chester Lake. It is a beautiful place. To get back to your car, leave Chester Lake and head back the way you came.

Hiking Trail Highlights

Chester Lake

Chester Lake is a small body of water located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. This picturesque alpine lake is located in a magnificent spot, surrounded by tall, gray, craggy mountains dotted with golden larches. Chester Lake is a major attraction for hikers in summer and snowshoe-ers in winter, partly because it’s an easily accessible, stunning spot in some of Canada’s wildest mountains.

The waters of the lake are a gorgeous turquoise color, but up close you’ll see that they are crystal clear, providing the perfect mirror for the surrounding mountains. As you hike around the lake you’ll encounter large piles of boulders and tumbling waterfalls, but the shimmering waters remain ever-peaceful.

Check out other amazing hikes in Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien:

Insider Hints

  • This trail is a great learning hike for your family.

  • In winter, this is one of the nicest snowshoe trails to explore.

  • Trail closed May to June 29th each year to prevent trail damage.

Comments

KDarough 1 year ago

Such a beautiful trail! Chester Lake is so beautiful and peaceful, and I look forward to snowshoeing the trail this winter!

Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
2h 30m Time Taken
Allanhoward 1 year ago

Peaceful hike with great views to offer.

10.0 Overall Rating
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2h 00m Time Taken
Richy_travels 1 year ago

I love how accessible this hike is. It is a perfect place to visit if you want to capture some sensational autumn landscapes.

10.0 Overall Rating
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2h 00m Time Taken
Willow F. 2 years ago

A must visit hike when you go to Canmore. The water from the falls was crystal clear. Loved every bit of scenery there.

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Ermengard Q. 2 years ago

Been here twice. Once during a company trip and the recent one with my friends. Still beautiful!

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lindsaaay 2 years ago

Love this in summer or winter. It does get busy for snowshoeing so midweek or early is best!

Jeffrey Reagan 2 years ago

The diverse landscapes and exquisite wildlife was fantastic!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Ahmad Jufar 2 years ago

The water was magical. Even though it's turquoise from afar, when you get close, it becomes very clear! I am completely dumbfounded by this.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Leonard J. 2 years ago

It looks surreal during fall season. The foliage looks incredible.

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Uzma Hasaam 2 years ago

This hike is beautiful and accessible. A must-visit!

10.0 Overall Rating
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19 Comments Show all

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