What Is It Like?
This very popular summer trail doubles as a snowshoe trail that takes you to Rawson Lake, which is nestled at the base of some spectacular mountain scenery. You gain a lot of elevation in the first half of this trail, but the many switchbacks make the task less daunting. It is a popular hike in both the summer and winter.
We first hiked this trail in the summer in 2009, when my boys were 6 and 8, and we snowshoed it 5 years later. The first time seemed like the never ending hike, I remember a lot of rest stops and bribery along the first part of the trail. What a difference that 5 years has made, as I had a hard time trying to keep up!
Like all of the popular snowshoe trails, the main trail becomes hard packed and can get icy on shady on steeper parts. I highly recommend snowshoes with traction, such as the MSR Lightning Ascent when doing most of the popular trails in Kananaskis. These have amazing grip and still allow you to “float” through the POW. This trail is not maintained in the winter, so any obstacles that fall across the trail stay there until spring trail maintenance is done, so you might need to trek through some powder to get around the obstacle.
My youngest son always starts on his snowshoes, but if the trail is hard packed, he quickly switches to my Yaktrax: XTR. He loves to play in the deep, fluffy snow, but can’t see the purpose of wearing snowshoes on a hard packed trail. Thankfully, he also carries the Yaktrax, because I become a “mommy sherpa” and somehow get talked into carrying his snowshoes.
My husband and I have the MSR Lightning Ascent snowshoes with the lifts, which take the stress off your calfs when climbing up steeper portions of the trail. Trust me, they work!
We got a late start on this trail, and by the time we made it to the lake, the temperatures were starting to drop and the clouds had come rolling in. Thankfully, my oldest son carried the Jetboil on this trip, and he was very keen to make the hot chocolate., as we all needed something warm to drink when we reached our destination.
There is a high risk of Avalanche hazard at the lake, so winter travel along the shoreline is strongly discouraged, but during the summer, the trail and shoreline is an ideal spot to hear, and possibly see Pikas. It is also a great spot to have your lunch and/or try your luck at fishing.
This trail is popular in both the summer and the winter, and I would recommend doing this trail in both seasons. In the summer, you can fish for trout, catch and release only and you should review the fishing regulations for Rawson Lake before you go. Fishing is not allowed in the winter.
Older children, with advanced snowshoe experience.
If you have my book, you know that I rate hikes on a child’s walking ability, not on an adult’s walking ability.
Daylight hours – as with all winter sports, it is always advisable to do them during the day. Do you need to know what to bring in your pack, check out my free downloadable resources.
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, in Kananaskis
Take highway 1 to highway 40 south to Kananaskis Lake trail to the Upper Kananaskis Lake Parking Lot and day use area. Take the south side of the Kananaskis Lake Trail, past Sarrail Falls, access to the Rawson Lake tail is on the left, after Sarrail Falls. it is clearly marked.