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Rawson Lake is a beautiful, green, alpine lake with Mount Sarrail as the incredibly stunning backdrop. This is one of the most beautiful hikes in Kananaskis and reaching the lake is well worth the moderate climb. The trail to Rawson Lake begins at Upper Kananaskis Lake and offers great views of the surrounding mountains, Sarrail Falls and the lush forest.
Time Required: 2-3 Hours
Location: 136km west of Calgary in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Distance: 8km round trip
Highest Elevation: 2100m
Elevation Gain: 400m
Difficulty: 5/10 – Well marked trail with moderate elevation gain.
Season: June to mid-October
Additional Requirements: N/A
From Calgary: Take the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) west approximately 70 km to Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) and then follow that 50 km to Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail and follow it for 13 km. Take a left on Upper Lake Drive and park at the south end of the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day Use Area.
From Canmore: Take the Trans-Canada(Hwy 1) east approximately 30 km to Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40) and then follow that 50 km to Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail and follow it for 13 km. Take a left on Upper Lake Drive and park at the south end of the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day Use Area.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes.Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with running shoes but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
- Water: Two bottles of water per hiker should suffice as this hike isn’t too strenuous.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike as well as a light lunch for when you arrive at the lake. Some of our favorites snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Weather appropriate clothing: You will be exposed to the elements throughout this hike. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
- Bear Spray: You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss along the way.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Wildlife: You will be hiking in bear country. It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife. Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location. Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: Rawson Lake is a scenic trail walk starting from the Upper Kananaskis Lake Day Use Area. The trail follows Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail clockwise until it branches off to the south and begins gaining elevation to Rawson Lake. The official trail ends at the North East side of Rawson Lake. There is a less maintained rocky trail that can be followed around the lake to the far west side for a different view of the lake.
From the Upper Lake Parking lot (Route marker #1 on the map), follow the trail from the south side of the lot heading clockwise around Upper Kananaskis Lake.
As you follow the trail, you will cross Sarrail Creek at Sarrail Falls (Route marker #2 on the map).
1.2 km into the hike (approx. 100m after crossing Sarrail Creek) you will come to a T-junction (Route marker #3 on the map). Take the left trail with the sign indicating the route to Rawson Lake.
Follow the trail as it begins climbing upward through the moderately steep switch backs. The trail will level off and after kilometer 3, you will arrive at Rawson Lake (Route marker #4 on the map).
This is the most scenic view of the Rawson Lake with Mount Sarrail as a backdrop. You can continue around the south side of the lake to the west end (Approx. 1km to the far side). The official trail ends part of the way around the lake, but there is a rocky trail that can be followed all the way to the west end.
Enjoy the beautiful scenery at Rawson Lake before returning to the Upper Lake Parking lot following the same trail in reverse.
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Have fun out there!