Chester Lake

Kananaskis – Smith Dorrien
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Chester Lake

Distance: 9.3km
Elevation: 320m
Time: 1.5-3h

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The hike to Chester Lake 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, as a snowshoe or 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.

Getting there

The 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 41.0km before reaching the parking lot. If coming from Kananaskis Lakes in the south, the distance is approximately 20.0km.


When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites




Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type

Out and back


Detailed Description

To start the hike to Chester Lake, 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 2.8km, you’ll enter a clearing that gives just a taste of what’s up ahead. This area can be exquisite in autumn with the diverse landscape colors creating truly magical scenery. Continue up ahead and emerge on 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 the way you came.

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.


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