Where: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
Points of Interest: North Interlakes Trailhead, Forks Campground, Turbine Canyon, Lawson and Maude Lake, North Kananakis Pass.
Mileage: Approx 10.25 miles (16.5 km) one way.
Trail: Canadian Great Divide – Uses Three Isle Lake Trail, Maude Lawson Trail (GemTrek Maps #7, Kananaskis Lake)
The start to our great Canadian divide section hike began in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. There are SEVERAL campgrounds in Peter Lougheed, and many trails to explore. I stayed the night at Boulton Creek Campground. It doesn’t have great views but the location to the trailhead and the amenities here (showers, outhouses, store) were why I picked this site.
The start of the adventure was about a 15 min (or less) drive from Boulton Creek to North Interlakes Trailhead. When the hike starts out with views like this, you know it is going to be amazing. A trailhead beer cheered the start of an epic adventure. The hike began about 6:45pm. I had 7.5 km to cover to reach the destination for the night: Forks Campground. The trail is wide, well maintained and signed. Keep your eyes out for wildlife cameras (I saw a couple at the base of the trees). Mother Nature blessed the hike in with a break in the sky for 2 hours to complete the short walk to the campground rain-free. The trail plan for the evening involved taking the upper lake trail for times-sake, but the opportunity is there to take the lower lake path which would offer some stunning views of the lake. It would be worth it if time allows.
H@H TIP: Forks Campground: Amazing facility, but expensive (must apply for backcountry permit and reservations). Campsite Number 3 had a good area for tents. The campground had several camp sites, a huge eating area with bear lockers, fire pits, picnic tables and the river running right by. Chopped firewood is found down the path.
The trail continues from Forks to Turbine Canyon (4.8mi, 7.8 km) by skirting along the river. Before you start climbing, turn around and look back toward Forks. You will be rewarded with a stunning view that you may have missed if you stayed in the shelter of the tree cover at the campsite.
The trail climbs moderately but relentlessly for quite a while through forest. When it levels out, you reach a clearing and the most marvelous meadow (the most favorite of the trip in my opinion)!
The sky was clear and the shallow pond was still. The mountains cast the most incredible reflection in the water: post card worthy. The air was still crisp and frost covered the meadow vegetation. The views get better and better the closer you get to Turbine. Pass Lawson lake which is surrounded by huge mountains in every direction and follow an easy trail from the meadow to Turbine.
Cross the small foot bridge over Maude Brooke and reach Turbine Canyon campground. This would be another great campsite if you wanted to extend your hike for another day (I didn’t stay here). If you are just passing by, it’s certainly worth taking the side trail by the footbridge, down to Turbine Canyon (less than 5 mins). The creek unexpectedly plummets into the abyss. It was a bit unnerving to stand at the edge to get a photo (which doesn’t do it any justice).
If you are staying at Turbine Canyon, a side option for a day hike would be to hike up to North Kananaskis pass. It would take 1-2 hours max (1.36mi, 2.2 km one way) and is well worth the views. The Great Divide Trail continues from Turbine to this pass, so it was en route for me.
The short but gradual climb to the pass provides great views over Maude lake and the border of Height of the Rockies Provincial Park.
The trail cuts down and around Maude Lake before a slight climb to the park boundary where the Height of the Rockies stands ruggedly in the background. The trail instantly becomes faint as you leave the park, but the views get more incredible if you venture beyond. You could return back to Turbine if you wanted to make this the end of a shorter hike. The Great Divide Trail gets a bit harder to navigate from this point.
What a great start to the hike! Having already been rewarded with some outstanding mountains views, stunning lakes and mellow meadows, I was beyond excited to see what the next 100+ miles had in store. Peter Lougheed exceeded expectations Having only explored a small fraction of the park, it has certainly enticed me to return. Stay tuned to see how the Height of the Rockies turned out !
*Note: every map, book, sign and resource noted slightly different mileages. All distances quoted are approximates.
What are your favorite trails in Peter Lougheed. What should I check out when I return ?