Kananaskis Country is arguably one of the most beautiful places on earth. Anyone who's adventurous or just wants to get away from the city and breathe some fresh air would consider Kananaskis a paradise. The park system covers over 4,000 square kilometres packed with mountains, foothills, rivers and, of course, hiking trails.
One of our all-time favourite hikes is smack in the middle of this stunning landscape. It’s known locally as the “Upper Lake” hike, technically called Upper Kananaskis Lake (as opposed to its neighbouring “Lower Kananaskis Lake”) and it’s one of the best hikes in Kananaskis; a perfect candidate for the first in our hiking series.
The hike is in Peter Lougheed provincial park and is right next door to the travel-trailer friendly Boulton Creek Campground. It’s about an hour and a half from Calgary, and you’ll want to park in the Day Use area to access the trail.
There are a few options for trails, but the main trail circles the entire Upper Kananaskis Lake. We always circle counter-clockwise, and until writing this blog I had never thought about why. It just feels right and I’m sure you’ll agree when you get there.
Some hikers appreciate there isn’t too much up/down hill climbing to be done, as most of the hike stays close to the lakeshore. But for those who love hills and mountains, you’re still surrounded by them all day. And because this isn’t one of Kananaskis’ most pedestrian hikes (though it is well loved), the trails are pretty quiet most days.
The best part about this hike is the variety. Ridge walks make way for beautiful waterfalls. Rocky shores and old rock slides feel alien and exotic, but a few steps later you’re deep in the forest. Then, out of nowhere, you’re walking through grasslands with grass as high as your elbow. It’s a journey through a myriad of different landscapes, sure to delight the senses all day.
Depending on which paths you take, whether you stop for a picnic and how fast you walk, the hike can be a bit long. It’s fairly easy due to the low elevation, but it’s rated as “average” because it’s about 18km long and can take anywhere from 5-6 hours. Bring plenty of water and food. Due to the length, we don’t recommend this hike for young children, but it’s a great way to spend some quality time outdoors with the family.
The weather in Kananaskis has been pretty wet this year, but September still offers some nice weekends for a trip to the mountains. So lace up those hiking boots and check it out!