Frozen Toad Snowshoe Trail in Kananaskis Country

The Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is an enjoyable, easy Kananaskis snowshoe trail between the Elkwood and Boulton Creek Campgrounds. The 8.1 km Frozen Toad loop, another of the new  official snowshoe trails in Kananaskis, is remarkably flat and packs a lot of Kananaskis mountain scenery into a single outing.

Given its proximity to the more well-known Elkwood snowshoe, this trail attracts more people on a weekend, but not nearly as much as other more popular Kananaskis trails, like the Chester Lake snowshoe trail.

Snowshoe through Boulton Creek Campground in Kananaskis

The Frozen Toad Loop is both a snowshoe trail and a fat bike trail. The snowshoe traffic on this trail helps to pack it down, making it also an easy but fun trail to fat bike in Kananaskis.

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Frozen Toad Loop Snowshoe Highlights

Frozen Toad part of High Rockies Winter Trail through campground

The Frozen Toad snowshoe trail begins in the Boulton Creek Campground parking lot. It’s a loop, which we chose to snowshoe in a counter-clockwise direction.

The trail begins on a shared cross country ski trail, but quickly transitions into the forest and through the campground. It’s fun to see how much snow is piled on top of all the picnic tables.

The trail starts climbing the only hill of any significance on the entire snowshoe trail. Watch your step as you’ll cross a small, yet still-flowing creek.

At 0.4km you’ll pass the Boulton Creek Trading post. The uphill continues until you reach another xc ski trail. The snowshoe trail is on the right, again leading you into the forest.

snowshoeing with kids in Kananaskis on Frozen Toad Loop
Small hill climb along Frozen Toad Snowshoe Loop in Kananaskis

At this stage, you are also on the High Rockies Winter Trail as you walk along the B loop campground road. The trail is really wide here with excellent views of Elpoca Mountain straight ahead. There’s also good opportunity to play in the deep snow off trail.

Frozen Toad through campground is an easy snowshoe with kids in Kananaskis

At the 1km mark, you re-enter the forest, leaving the campground for good. The trail remains wide, even though you are in the forest. You walk parallel to a charming winter creek for a lot of this stretch, with beautiful views of Mt Wintour through the trees. At 1.4km you cross the Packers cross country ski trail.

Ski Trail Crossing Sign along Frozen Toad snowshoe trail

At 2.5km you are still following the creek, but now enter a large open meadow with large expanses of untouched, soft fluffy snow. Watch for cross country skiers on the top of the hill on your left. You’ll eventually meet up with the Amos xc ski trail at 3.9km.

After crossing Amos, you are nearing Marl Lake with excellent views of Mt Invincible and Mt Warspite ahead.

At 4.1km you reach the frozen, snow covered Mark Lake. The open expanse of the lake offers beautiful views of snow covered Mt Indefatigable, Mt Lyautey and Mt Sarrail across the water.

kids with snowshoes looking at mountain view across Marl Lake in Kananaskis

You’ll find a series of park benches on the shores of the lake. There are two junctions to join the Elkwood Loop snowshoe trail. A quick detour on this short interpretive trail can be added on to make this a longer snowshoe.

As you walk along the shores of Marl Lake, stop to look behind you – the views of Gap Mountain are amazing.

Looking back along Frozen Toad Snowshoe Loop

At 4.8km you leave the shores of Marl Lake and re-enter the forest. You cross the Wheeler xc ski trail as you descend down into an open valley. Enjoy wide open spaces as you snowshoe though this frozen marsh.

Tubbs Storm Snowshoes for Kids with mountain backdrop

For several kilometres you’ll enjoy the wide open spaces with nice views of Mt Indefatigable on the right. Whatever trees have been able to grow in the marsh are small, compared to the regular trees in the distance.

At 7km you reenter the forest for the final time on your way back to the trading post.

Frozen Toad Snowshoe Trail Stats

How Long is the Frozen Toad Loop Trail?

The Alberta Parks webpage states the Frozen Toad snowshoe loop is 8.1km long. We recorded the distance on the AllTrails app as 8.26 km.

How Steep is the Frozen Toad Snowshoe Trail?

Similar to the nearby Torpor Snowshoe Trail, the Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is another flat trail to enjoy while snowshoeing in Kananaskis. There is only one hill to climb at the beginning of the trail (going in a counter-clockwise direction) and one that you’ll descend shortly after the half-way mark past Marl Lake.

The total elevation gain you’ll encounter snowshoeing the Frozen Toad Trail is 281 m.

Looking for another similar snowshoe trail in Kananaskis? The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is flat with some stunning mountain scenery.

How Hard is the Frozen Toad Snowshoe Loop?

snowshoeing with snow falling along Frozen Toad snowshoe trail

If you can manage the moderate 8km distance, the Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is a very easy Kananaskis snowshoe trail. After a busy weekend in Kananaskis, the main trail was hard-packed snow and mostly flat, considering it’s a mountain snowshoe trail. This also makes it an easy fat bike trail in Kananaskis!

If you are the first one out on Frozen Toad after a large snowfall, you can expect the difficulty to increase substantially as you’ll be the one breaking the trail.

With a packed down trail, the Frozen Toad Loop Trail is a kid-friendly snowshoe trail in Kananaskis – our kids (aged 5 & 7) were able to complete it without issue.

How Long Does It Take to Snowshoe Frozen Toad Loop Trail?

It should take a typical adult under 2 hours to snowshoe the full loop of the Frozen Toad Trail (assuming the trail is well packed).

We recently did the Frozen Toad Loop snowshoe trail with our kids (aged 5 & 7). It’s similar in distance to the Shark Lake snowshoe trail, which took us just over 3 hours. We snowshoed the Frozen Toad Loop Trail with our kids in 3.5 hours.

Frozen Toad Loop Snowshoe Trail Location

Crossing Campground Road on Frozen Toad Snowshoe

The Frozen Toad snowshoe trail takes you through beautiful frozen wetlands and by the stunning Marl Lake. Technically, the best place to start the Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is from the Boulton Creek Campground, but it can also be accessed from the Elkwood snowshoe and from the Torpor Loop snowshoe. Starting from either of these locations will add on some distance to the overall loop.

Boulton Creek Campground

The closest parking lot for the Frozen Toad snowshoe is in the Boulton Creek Campground, in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park area of Kananaskis. It’s a very big parking lot as it has access to many popular cross-country ski trails, as well as the Frozen Toad and Torpor snowshoe trails.

Parking Lot at Boulton Creek Campground

To find the Frozen Toad snowshoe trailhead, park in the first lot on your right shortly after turning off Kananaskis Lakes Trail into the Boulton Creek Campground parking lot. From there, walk towards the cross country ski trails. The snowshoe trail starts straight ahead in the trees and is well marked. This will take you in a counter-clockwise direction on the loop.

Boulton Creek Campground parking lot location

Frozen Toad Loop Trailhead from Boulton Creek Campground

Boulton Bridge Day Use Area

To access the Frozen Toad Loop snowshoe from the Boulton Bridge day use area, go across the bridge and up the hill along the snowshoe trail. Follow the Torpor Loop snowshoe trail until it intersects with the Frozen Toad Loop. This will add on around 200 m to the overall distance of the snowshoe.

Kananaskis trail sign for High Rockies Winter trail, Frozen Toad Snowshoe Trail, Torpor Loop West and East

Boulton Bridge parking lot location

Elkwood Campground Day Use Area

The furthest parking lot to access the Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is at the Elkwood day use area. It’s also a large parking lot with access to several popular Kananaskis snowshoe trails and cross-country ski trails.

Sign for Elkwood snowshoe near Frozen Toad

To access the Frozen Toad snowshoe trailhead, you’ll need to follow the Elkwood snowshoe loop until you reach Marl Lake. From there you can continue on the Frozen Toad Loop. This will add 2.2 km on the total distance of the snowshoe.

Elkwood Campground parking lot location

Frozen Toad Loop Trailhead from Elkwood

Frozen Toad Loop Trail Map

Kananaskis Snowshoe Trail Markers along Frozen Toad Loop

If you’re like us, you’ll want to have a map of this snowshoe on your phone. We use and recommend the AllTrails app. Download any map data prior to driving to Kananaskis, as data gets spotty once you enter Kananaskis and there is no cell service down near this trail.

As with all official Kananaskis snowshoe trails, there are orange diamond snowshoe trail signs marking the way. The Frozen Toad trail is well marked throughout and sections of it are part of the High Rockies Winter Trail.

The Frozen Toad trail appears on this pdf map of Peter Lougheed Winter Trails. If you have this map open on your phone, start your snowshoe outing from Boulton Creek Campground (where it’s easy to find the trailhead) and follow the orange diamond signs, it’s pretty easy to follow the snowshoe trail.

Snowshoeing Frozen Toad Loop with Kids

We consider the Frozen Toad snowshoe loop to be a kid-friendly Kananaskis snowshoe trail. The lack of difficult hills and the nice flat sections make this a great family snowshoe trail. The moderate distance of 8 km on snowshoes may be difficult for some kids. However, with plenty of spots to stop for a break and time playing in the deep snow just off the trail, you’ll have a great family outing.

Easy snowshoe in Kananaskis along Frozen Toad Loop

Our experience snowshoeing with kids is that they tend to get bored faster snowshoeing compared to summer hiking. They also seem to get tired of wearing snowshoes for long distances. This is likely because they can’t run wild and most of the things they find interesting on a hike (finding treasures, etc.) are now buried under the snow.

We try to keep it interesting with short races, where an adult takes a route in the deep snow. The kids love beating us every time.

Animal tracks in snow along easy Frozen Toad Kananaskis Snowshoe loop

Another fun activity to do while snowshoeing Frozen Toad Trail with kids is to look for animal tracks in the snow – find as many different kinds as you can and try to guess which animal made them.

Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break

Where to stop for lunch along Frozen Toad Snowshoe Loop

We stopped for lunch in a meadow with a great view of Mt. Indefatigable (just past Marl Lake). Had our lunch time coincided better, Marl Lake has benches and is a great place to stop for lunch.

Benches along Marl Lake - part of Elkwood Snowshoe Loop

There are also picnic tables (snow covered) at the start of the snowshoe trail near the Boulton Creek Trading Post.

Even with snow pants on, it can get cold sitting on frozen trees or picnic table benches, so we recommend you bring a winter picnic blanket if you have room in your day bag.

Frozen Toad Snowshoe Trail Safety

Kananaskis Wildlife Safety

Wildlife Spotting - winter Banff Activities

In the dead of winter, the bears in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park should be hibernating (be careful in early winter or early spring though!). But that’s not a reason to let your guard down as other animals like wolves, cougars and elk still provide a safety risk to Kananaskis visitors. Take a few minutes and read “Living with Wildlife” by Alberta Parks.

Frozen Toad Loop Trail Report

Frozen Toad Section of High Rockies Winter Trail

It’s always a good idea to check the Frozen Toad Loop snowshoe trail conditions before you leave home. Alberta Parks publishes a Frozen Toad Loop Trail Report for the snowshoe trail which details any area closures, known animal risks, etc. Note the current warning about limited trail signage – make sure you have the pdf trail map on your phone.

Frozen Toad Loop Snowshoe Trail Logistics

kid friendly snowshoe in Kananaskis - Frozen Toad
  • There are toilets at the Boulton Creek Campground, Boulton Bridge Day Use area and the Elkwood Campground Day Use area.

  • There are no drinking water facilities, so bring plenty of water with you.

  • On-leash dogs are allowed on the Frozen Toad snowshoe trail.

  • The trail is popular with winter hikers, snowshoers and fat bikers.

  • This snowshoe trail crosses the xc ski trails on a few occasions. Be respectful of the groomed trails and step over the tracks.

What to Bring for Hiking Frozen Toad Loop in Winter

It’s really tough to decide how to dress for winter hiking or snowshoeing in Kananaskis. If you snowshoe at a fast pace or decide to have fun in the deep snow, you’ll get hot pretty quickly, even when it’s cold outside.

Sunny day on Frozen Toad Trail in Kananaskis

The Frozen Toad snowshoe trail traverses wetlands and takes you along Marl Lake. When you are in an open area, you may enjoy the warmth of the sun, but the cold winds coming off the lake will quickly cool you off. In the winter, shade and wind result in noticeably colder temperatures, so you’ll be adding layers quickly to keep warm!

Given these challenges, we recommend dressing in layers while snowshoeing in Kananaskis and having a good daybag to store your unused layers in.

Frozen Toad Loop Foot Traction Recommendations

The Frozen Toad snowshoe trail is pretty flat, with only one hill to climb and one to descend. You could probably winter hike the Frozen Toad Loop without any traction device on your feet, but our experience tells us that traction devices are always a good idea – you never know when you’ll hit an unexpected icy patch.

Frozen Toad flat snowshoe trail in Kananaskis

Snowshoes

If you are going to snowshoe the Frozen Toad Loop, make sure you have multiple crampons underneath your snowshoes – some on the front toe and a pair under your heel. Also, if possible, look for a pair of snowshoes with double-ratchet bindings and avoid snowshoes with any form of buckle bindings – they tend to come undone, which gets annoying quickly.

Shop snowshoes on Amazon.ca or REI.

Winter Hiking Traction Devices

We recommend using traction devices for Kananaskis winter hiking

If you are going to winter hike the Frozen Toad Trail you should have some form of traction device on your feet.

We own and highly recommend Kahtoola MICROspikes. Look at the steel spikes on the bottom of the Kahtoola MICROspikes and you’ll see why we love these traction devices so much. They are a scaled-down recreational version of the crampons you’ll see on mountain expeditions.

Yaktrax are another popular multi-purpose traction device used around Banff for winter walking or running. They are popular as they are very comfortable for walking on winter hikes or snow-covered walking trails in Canmore or Banff. The lack of spikes makes them comfortable to walk on snow and cleared pathways, but they are not great for ice walking.

Shop traction devices on MEC or REI.

Trekking Poles

No matter which traction device you use for your feet, you should consider using trekking poles to help your balance. We’ve tried trekking poles and to be honest, we don’t like them nor use them, but we seem to be in the minority. Trekking poles are widely used around Banff and Kananaskis in winter.

It makes sense… winter hiking on snow or ice in the mountains is often very slippery and trekking poles add two more points of contact with the ground, thus greatly reducing your odds of slipping.

Shop trekking poles on MEC and REI.

wide section along Frozen Toad Snowshoe Loop

The Frozen Toad Loop is a very enjoyable and easy snowshoe trail in Kananaskis. It’s packed with great scenery, and best of all, with an early start you should have the trail mostly to yourself.

Interested in other easy winter trails around Banff and Kananaskis? See our list of Easy Winter Hikes around Banff and Easy Cross-Country Skiing Trails in Banff and Area.

Kananaskis & Banff Winter Activities

Banff Trip Planning Resources

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Snowshoeing the Frozen Toad Loop in Kananaskis. Add this easy snowshoe trail in Kananaskis to your list! Packed with incredible mountain scenery and sections through a frozen wetlands, it's also kid-friendly!