Hidden Lake was appropriately named because it should remain out of sight. Located in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, about 1:30 hours west of Calgary, this is a strenuous hike to a rather unremarkable lake - yup, I try not to be negative, but such a heart-pounding climb to a boring pond-like lake just doesn't seem worth it (yet, here I am writing about it!).
I usually love hiking in the Canadian Rockies. The treks can be strenuous at times but the scenic beauty is usually worth the lung-burning, leg-cramping effort. However, all of the sweat it took to get to Hidden Lake wasn't really worth it. I write this to save you the effort of doing this hike!
Hidden Lake is a small lake above the reservoirs that make up the Kananaskis Lakes. It's an intermittent lake that drains though an underground creek. The water color varies from muddy grey to light green.
Throughout the summer, the water level fluctuates depending on the head waters from Fossil Falls and Aster Lake. When the water level of Hidden Lake is low, hikers can walk on the rocky shore and on a muddy pathway (as shown in the video). When the lake is full, as on my hike, there's no shoreline and hiking around the lake entails a lot of bushwhacking through the thick forest.
From the trail junction with the Upper Kananaskis Loop Trail, the hiking distance to Hidden Lake is short and the elevation negligible. However, the trail junction is not well marked and easily missed. I was looking for the stream to indicate the trail head but didn't realize that it was an underground stream. Instead, look for a barely discernible path marked by a tiny, red ribbon.
The trail to Hidden Lake is not well used and has been marked with the red ribbons along the entire route. At the time I went, the path didn't look at all maintained and was blocked with many downed trees from a previous windstorm. Hiking boots are required as you'll need to traverse on, over and around a lot of deadfall. The trail is extremely slippery when wet.
In my opinion, hiking 5 kilometers just to get to the trail head and then bushwhacking for another hour, only to get to an unremarkable pond is not worth the visit. If you're continuing to Fossil Falls, Aster Lake and the Northover Ridge, just keep walking past Hidden Lake.
When the water level of Upper Kananaskis Lake recedes in mid to late summer, the outlet of the underground creek from Hidden Lake is actually above the water line. In this photo, the water gushes from a rocky mound into Upper Kananaskis Lake.
View Hidden Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada in a larger map
Distance from Banff - 118 kilometers
Distance from Canmore - 93 kilometers
Distance from Calgary - 140 kilometers
The slow, steep climb to Hidden Lake and the constant bushwhacking puts this adventure down on the list of things to do in Alberta.