Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail

Difficulty
This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
Easy
Duration
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.
3.5-5h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
16.5 km
Elevation
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.
295 m
User Ratings
These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
Overall Rating
This is the average user-submitted overall rating on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest.
9.5
Physical Difficulty
This 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.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Technical Difficulty
This 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.
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
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Directions to Trailhead
Panorama from the Upper Kananaskis Lake hike in Kananaskis, the Canadian Rockies

The hike around Upper Kananaskis Lake offers tremendous views, varied terrain and limited elevation gain – a great trail for all levels of hikers. This is also an especially good option for shoulder season in Canmore, when the route is far less crowded.

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Route Description for Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail

We typically opt to park in the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day Use area, as there are usually many free spots here. Additionally, we recommend doing this trip counter-clockwise to observethe great views early in the morning with good light and to finish with a bang with one final postcard view.

Start the Upper Kananaskis Lake trail by walking across a causeway over the lake and then hug the shoreline. Make sure to check out the great views across the lake. After about 4.3 km, you will come to the North Interlakes Day Use Area, which also has parking. Continue past here and cross a bridge. The Lower Kananaskis Lakes will be on your right. Both the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes are natural lakes that were turned into reservoirs to provide hydroelectric power and flood control, as well as water reserves for Calgary.

Continue on the trail until you’re presented with the options of both an upper and lower path. Both go to the same place, however we prefer the upper path. The route brings you through the trees and emerges on a fantastic landscape very similar to the surface of the moon – the natural landslides have produced a rugged beauty. Make sure here to descend to the trail that contours around the lake, rather than continuingthaning along the route to Three Isle Lake— although this is also a great backpacking option.

Another great campground comes up quickly as well – Point Campground – appearing at roughly 8.0 km into the trip. This is a great starter backpacking trip, and it is fun to explore the shores around the area.

Savor the remaining views, as you’ll soon enter the forest and pass Upper Kananaskis Falls. Going through the trees can reveal some recent snowfall, and on one trip we followed bear tracks for 7.0 km back to the parking lot. As you walk through the forest, you’ll notice options to continue to the rocky beach, populated by eerie forests of dead trees. If you’re feeling brave, venture down here for some beautiful views and explore with the whole family – no we’re not kidding!

The Upper Kananaskis trail continues along the lake in the trees, though closer to the lakeshore. At approximately 15.0 km, a track heads up to the right to Rawson Lake, another great hike in the area. Soon enough, you’ll arrive back at the parking lot.

Hiking trail highlights

Upper Kananaskis Lake

This stunning natural lake that was turned into a reservoir is a can’t miss sight! This turquoise blue waterway is included in a series of lakes that are used for hydro electric power, flood control and water reserves for the city of Calgary. The lake area is pretty much empty outside of the summer months, offering plenty of tranquil hiking experiences.

The Upper Kananaskis Lake is also a popular spot for canoeing, kayaking and even small power boats, so keep eyes peeled on the water to spot fellow adventurers. You can also try your luck at casting out a line to catch a Rainbow Trout or Bull Trout. As you walk around the lake, enjoy the surrounding mountainous views, admiring the peaks of Mount Lyautey, Mount Sarrail, Mount Foch and Mount Fox.

Find more great hikes in Kananaskis Country:

Insider Hints for Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail

  • Get here early, as it can get busy, especially on weekends.
  • Carry bear spray, especially in shoulder season. On numerous occasions, we’ve seen evidence of bears on our hikes.
  • Stop by Boulton Creek Trading Post for an ice cream treat after your walk.

Getting to the Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail Trailhead

To get to the Upper Kananaskis Lake trailhead, take Highway 40 South from the Trans-Canada Highway for 63.4 km. Turn right at the “Winter Gate” onto highway 742 and follow this for roughly 12.5 km, turning left at the “Upper Lake” sign. Follow the road down the hill, and there are two parking lots, an upper and a lower.

Route Information

  • When to do

    May through October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    Yes

  • Toilets

    Trailhead

  • Family friendly

    No

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail Elevation Graph

Weather Forecast

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Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail Reviews

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