The snowshoe up to Little Lougheed offers a perfect vantage point to view the spectacular Spray Lakes Reservoir and the snowy peaks surrounding it. An entertaining maze of boulders on the ascent and the challenging avalanche terrain turns this shorter route into a challenging and interesting day out!
From the Canmore Nordic Centre, continue west on the Smith-Dorrien (Hwy 742) as it winds up into the Spray Valley for 21.5km. Park on the left-hand side of the road by Spencer Creek.
|When to do|
December - April
Several day use areas along 742
Yes - On Leash
Out and back
Anyone on a snowshoe trip should have Avalanche training, we recommend AST 2 for all backcountry travellers, and AST 1 is the minimum. It is important to note that when travelling through avalanche terrain it is extremely valuable to always have a companion.
Little Lougheed is a western outlier of Mt. Lougheed. The snowshoe route up Little Lougheed starts at Spencer Creek (the creek flowing down from between Mt. Sparrowhawk and Mt. Lougheed), about 2.8km south of Spurling Creek (signed) on the Smith-Dorrien highway. A clearing by the road allows you to see the route up from here.
You will follow the left/north bank of Spencer Creek and begin ascending a steep section along the ridge crest. A few hundred metres up, there will be a boulder field with nice views of Spray Lakes. There may be sections of wind swept and rocky terrain, where you may need to remove your snowshoes to walk. Bring microspikes for extra grip in the case you need to switch over to walking.
The average snowshoer should take a bit more than two hours to reach treeline, which is fifteen minutes below the summit of Little Lougheed. You will be travelling on loose rock after reaching treeline. It is often best to wear microspikes here, depending on conditions. Watch for potentially large cornices on the way to the summit, and be sure not to step out off of the ridge onto overhanging snow.
The views from the summit are superb and easily rival some of the bigger snowshoeing trips in the area. The entire Spray Lakes reservoir is visible to the west and Mounts Lougheed and Sparrowhawk dominate the view to the east and south. This trip is definitely worth repeating, and potentially a nice summer hike as well.
Be sure to bring microspikes as the final section of the ascent is usually not snow covered.
Fill-up on bagels in Canmore before the hike at the Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
Snowshoeing in the Kananaskis is a remote activity. Make sure you are prepared for an emergency with warm clothes, extra food, matches and ideally a satellite transceiver, like a Garmin InReach. Cell phones do not work until you get to Canmore.
Always check the avalanche forecast for Kananaskis before heading out.
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