Rawson Lake hike in Kananaskis near Canmore, the Canadian Rockies
Rawson Lake hike in Kananaskis near Canmore, the Canadian Rockies

Rawson Lake hike

Kananaskis Trail
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Views of the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreView of the Upper Kananaskis Lake on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreViews of the Rawson Lake Hike in KananaskisPassing the falls on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreFishing in Upper Kananaskis Lake on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreTrail around the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreLog walkway on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreSarrail Ridge on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreViews along the lake on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreRawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmorePartway around Rawson Lake on the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near CanmoreSarrail Ridge from the Rawson Lake Hike in Kananaskis, near Canmore

Rawson Lake hike

Distance: 4.8mi
Elevation: 1,050ft
Time: 2.5-3h

Difficulty Rating:

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9.7 Overall Rating
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The hike to Rawson Lake is one of the most popular in the Kananaskis Lakes area. It’s a pleasant path through the forest up to Rawson Lake, but the hike around the side of the water’s edgeis what truly makes this a spectacular hike.

Rawson Lake hike Map

Getting there

To get to the Rawson Lake trailhead, take Highway 40 South from the Trans-Canada Highway for 39.4mi. Turn right at the “Winter Gate” onto highway 742 and follow this 1.4mi. Continue straight (passing the turn-off for Smith-Dorrien Trail) and continue for roughly 6.2mi, turning left at the “Upper Lake” sign. Follow the road down the hill, and park in the far-left parking lot, known as Upper Kananaskis Lake Parking Lot.

I’ve done this 46 people have done this
I want to do this 128 want to do this route

About

When to do

June to October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Parking lot, Rawson Lake

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Rawson Lake
Elevation Graph


Rawson Lake Trail Description

To start the Rawson Lake hike, from the Upper Kananaskis Parking lot, walk down to Upper Kananaskis Lake where you find a wide path. Go left on this path and follow it, while it follows the lakeshore. The views along this part of the walk are spectacular, and many tourists come just to look at the stunning Upper Kananaskis Lake.

After approximately 20 minutes, you’ll cross over Sarrail Creek on a wooden bridge, just afterwards is a signed turn-off to the left for Rawson Lake. The sign lists the distance to Rawson Lake as 1.7mi. The path to Rawson Lake goes steadily uphill through a subalpine forest. This part of the hike to Rawson Lake is described anywhere from an easy hike to ‘actually quite difficult’.

It all depends on if you are a seasoned hiker or just starting out. Everybody agrees that hiking up the switchbacks to Rawson Lake is worth it though, so don’t give up!

Once at Rawson Lake (it 2.1mi and 902ft of elevation gain from the car), the path goes to the left, contouring around Rawson Lake. There is an outhouse nearby as you go to your left.

The path around Rawson Lake is fantastic, and there are many places to stop and enjoy a break. The view across Rawson Lake to Sarrail Ridge is spectacular, as is the view from the far end of Rawson Lake.

As you get near the far end of the lake, the path gets rocky and narrower here, so it is hard to hold a child’s hand on this path. When we have young children with us, this is where we normally turn back on day trips. If you’re feeling good, continue to follow the path, as it soon swings to the right at the end of Rawson Lake and you can see Sarrail Ridge in front of you.
To return to your car, simply retrace your steps on the way down.

Hiking trail highlights

Rawson Lake

Exploring this pristine lake should make it to the top of any hiker’s bucket list! Surround by blooming alpine meadows, bursting with all the colours of the rainbow—this is certainly a photo-worthy spot.

Nestled at the base of Mt. Serrail, Rawson Lake dazzles in an emerald green shade and makes for a perfect picnic lunch spot. Stop to rest and enjoy the afternoon here, but just be aware that bears have been known to frequent the lake area.

Find more great hikes in Kananaskis Country:

Insider Hints

  • Get here early, as the hike to Rawson Lake is very popular, and the parking lot fills up early.

  • This is prime bear country, so hike in groups and take bear-spray.

  • You can snowshoe to Rawson Lake in winter, however the route around Rawson Lake and up to Sarrail Ridge is very dangerous due to avalanche risk and should not be attempted. Be careful and stay off of Rawson Lake in winter, people have fallen through the ice in recent years.

  • Check out our YouTube video on this great family hike.

Comments

Willow F. 1 year ago

It was a delightful experience. Pleasant trail through the forest up to Rawson Lake. This hike gives me a relaxing feeling.

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MayP 1 year ago

My friend chose this trail because this is where she hiked the first time. I dont blame her, it's so beautiful!

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Harry S. 2 years ago

The hike around the side of the water’s edge was what truly made it an amazing hike. There's a path that goes steadily uphill through a subalpine forest.

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WendyMag. 2 years ago

Amazing hike with spectacular views. Steep at few points so I would recommend taking your time if your are a beginner. Beautiful waterfall, amazing views and very relaxing.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Haffy K. 2 years ago

Splendid hike with stunning views. Hike in groups and take bear-spray. It wasn't crowded so I really enjoyed my time taking a lot of photos.

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Ermengard Q. 2 years ago

If I can put it into words, I would describe it as a simple, moderate hike that would soothe your tired soul.

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lindsaaay 2 years ago

Great shoulder season hike, done this in the summer and winter and it's good either time. Trail is usually just packed snow in the winter. There's avalanche risk at the back of the lake so stay safe. We did this with the whole family and the dog and everyone found it pretty manageable.

Leonard J. 2 years ago

There are mountain peaks, forest trees and so much more! It's loaded with amazing scenery!

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vicious5 2 years ago

The Rawson Lake hike is beautiful. I got out really early to enjoy it when it was less crowded but there were a lot of families going there on my way back. So go early.

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bigfootJOE 3 years ago

This hike is a classic: blue, green, white, grey - lakes, deep pine forests, snowy mountain tops. Amazing

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14 Comments Show all

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