Things To Do: Walking Tour of Upper Kananaskis Lake

Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Hiking in Kananaskis

This walking / hiking tour around Upper Kananaskis Lake is an easy outdoor adventure that people of all fitness levels can enjoy. This gentle trail follows the shoreline of this man-made lake and takes hikers through Douglas Fir forests, conifer groves, and even an old rock slide.

Located in the front range of the Rocky Mountains, about 1 hour south of Canmore, Alberta, is the first of three man-made reservoirs along the Kananaskis River. Upper Kananaskis Lake is a turquoise-colored lake fed by glaciers and the annual snow pack of the upper Bow Valley Watershed. Enjoy the scenic beauty by walking or hiking the circuit loop around its shoreline.

Rating - Moderate, due to its length
Distance - 15.5 kilometers
Elevation Gain - 100 meters
Duration - 5 to 7 hours
When to Go - June to October


This scenic trail can be walked or hiked in the summer and fall. The scenery is always varying as the water level and surrounding forest change with the seasons.

In the summer, when the sun is high, there are plenty of people hiking in the adjoining valleys as well as anglers fishing on Upper Kananaskis Lake. But because the area is so large, it never seems crowded.

The Kananaskis Lake Loop is an extended day hike. The elevation gain is negligible. You'll pass waterfalls and creek beds, bridges and wildlife. Along the far shore, near the Aster Lake trail junction, there's even an underground stream that gushes up into the lake.

On the western side, the trail wanders through tall conifers that change to a golden yellow color in fall. Near Mount Indefatigable, with its steeply tilted rock, the trail winds through a huge boulder field from an ancient landslide.

Tips for Exploring the Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop

  • Be bear aware. You're in black bear and Grizzly territory.
  • Contact the Kananaskis Information Centre for trail conditions and wildlife warnings.
  • Check the weather in Canmore before heading out. In this valley, you can only see incoming storms and weather fronts once they cross the towering peaks, which by then is too late.
  • Bring warm clothing, even in summer, as the cool mountain winds can pick up at any time.
  • Hiking boots can help to prevent ankle injuries (but the trail can be done in running shoes).
  • There are day-use picnic areas near the parking lots. Fire pits for barbequing are available. Spots are snapped up quickly on hot summer days.
  • The section of trail along the earthen dam seems longer than it really is (4.5 kilometers).

View Fishing in Alberta on Upper Kananaskis Lake in a larger map

While the Kananaskis Loop Trail is one of the longer day hikes, it isn't strenuous. The trail is relatively flat, the lake is always in view and the scenery is amazing. It's always quiet here. If you have a group of people with different fitness levels, consider taking this gentle walking tour around the scenic Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Find more things to discover in Alberta, including incredible scenery, great hikes and outdoor adventures, and interesting roadside attractions.