This trail starts near Kananaskis Lakes in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis, Alberta, travelling over the Divide and down to Elk Lakes Park in BC, returning by a slightly different route.
From the trailhead, walk up the wide gated gravel road, then along the power lines for a further .5 km. After crossing Fox Creek you gradually climb along a now older and narrower road to long and narrow West Elk Pass.
Keep straight ahead in the meadows where a trail to the right proceeds up to cross country ski trails. A few hundred meters later- at 5 km- take the signed trail on your right, then left a few hundred meters later to Fox lake.
Once past Fox Lake it is mostly downhill to the footbridge over Elk River near the outlet of Upper Elk Lake (9 km). For a longer trek you can proceed right up to Petain Basin. For the trip as described turn left and proceed to Lower Elk Lake Campground at just over 10 km. Elk Lakes is worth spending a few days at. If you ever do this trail, backpack if possible, since the nicest areas are on the BC side, near Elk Lakes. I have heard that the trail up the valley to Petain basin is great, but there is often a problem with high water levels washing out the trail and the campsites upriver(as there was when I did this trip). A lot of wildlife around too- bears (both types), elk, etc.
To return, continue down Elk River for another km, turning left at the Wardens' Cabin. You then proceed up to the junction with the trail to Fox Lake mentioned above. Return via West Elk Pass and the power line road.
The climbing opportunities are admittedly in the area, not right on the trail as described. For example, Fox Mountain provides scrambling and climbing, but you have to fork off the trail described near the Fox Lake Junction to get to it. Skiing (and snowshoeing) is possible on the trail described plus on some branch trails; likewise for biking.
Drive south from Canmore on either Highway 40 or Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien Road. The latter is gravel, but scenic and provides access to many Trails, including one to Mount Assiniboine.The trailhead is on your left about 12 km from the junction of Highway 40 and Kananaskis Lakes Trail (ie Road).
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Posted By: munharrison
- Sun Aug 26 14:05:34 EDT 2012
UpsideBeautiful view of lake and glacier in background at Upper Elk Lake. Fox Lake view on the way in with mountain canyon behind it similar to Rawson Lake. Cabin available on first come basis near the Elk Lakes.
DownsideThe hike from the loop to Upper Elk Lake is primarily downhill so can be a little intimidating if time is a worry or if your hiking endurance is in question, knowing you have to climb back up to get out. Powerline is full of berries when in season and berry-filled scat so watch for grizzlies. I saw a Sow and Cub at the parking lot 2 weeks before I did this one.
CommentWe did the bike loop along the powerline, looped partway back on the woods trail until branch to elk pass, hiked from there to Upper Elk Lake and back (bikes not permitted or even practical), then biked the remaining bike loop back to the parking lot. If you plan to also go to the Peitan falls and glacier you may want to consider overnighting, possibly in the alpine club cabin, unless you are a centennial ridge in a day type of hiker.
Posted By: sdecarie
- Sat Oct 18 18:14:43 EDT 2008
UpsideIt's a relatively easy hike to West Elk Pass from marked parking lot for West Elk Pass
DownsideWe did this on Thanksgiving weekend in 2008, conditions were wintery with several cm of snow along most of trail. The area is renowned for being grizzly bear habit. Didn't see any tracks even but did see moose or elk tracks.
CommentIt is a pleasant relatively easy walk the forest that weather co-operating has a good view at the end (we didn't see the view more like a snow storm) It's only 6.3 km from the parking lot to Fox lake.