The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe is a perfect combination of an easy snowshoe trail and outstanding scenery. You’ll enjoy a leisurely walk through a snow covered forest with non-stop lake and mountain views.
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail in Kananaskis is one of the official snowshoe trails found in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. It leaves from the Canyon Day Use parking lot, which is also the start of the Penstock Loop snowshoe and the Canyon snowshoe trails.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe:
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Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Highlights
The excellent views begin from the canyon parking lot. Looking across the northern half of Lower Kananaskis Lake, you can enjoy excellent views of the snow capped mountains lining Highway 40 including Mt. Wintour and King Creek Ridge.
The trail enters the snowy evergreen forest heading eastward. The trail clings to the shoreline of Lower Kananaskis Lake and you will enjoy non-stop views of the lake and its surrounding mountains the entire trail.
After 0.5 km the trail turns south and the Rocky Mountains which line the southern half of the Lower Kananaskis Lake come into view. Mt. Indefatigable is prominent on the western shore, while Mt. Sarrail, Mt. Foch and Mt. Fox stand guard on the southern shores.
The second half of the trail is especially close to the lake, which means less trees to block the amazing mountain views.
At 2.7 km you reach a junction with the Marsh Loop. You can extend your snowshoe here by snowshoeing the Marsh Loop which is 1.8 km. The Marsh Loop also has a 0.7 km connector to reach the Elkwood snowshoe loop. The Elkwood snowshoe loop is 3.4 km. All together these trails, could be combined to make an 11 km snowshoe.
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe can be turned into a loop by snowshoeing on the lake on the return trip. Ensure the lake is safe to travel on before snowshoeing on it.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Trail Stats
How Long is the Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail?
The Alberta Parks webpage states the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe is 6.6 km long. We recorded the distance on the AllTrails app as 5.6 km.
How Steep is the Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Trail?
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is relatively flat as it winds along the shore of the lake. There are a few small hills along the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail, but the trail basically undulates through the trees next to the lake. The total elevation gain you’ll encounter snowshoeing the Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail is 14m.
How Hard is the Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe?
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is a very easy Kananaskis snowshoe trail. With its distance of just over 5 km and the lack of climbing, the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail is a kid-friendly Kananaskis snowshoe trail – our kids (aged 5 & 7) were able to complete it without issue.
How Long Does It Take to Snowshoe Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail?
It should take a typical adult about 1-1.5 hours to snowshoe the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail.
We recently did the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail with our kids (aged 5 & 7). We snowshoed the Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail with our kids in just over 2 hours, which is a pretty typical pace with our kids.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Trail Location
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is both easy to find and easy to follow. It leaves from the Canyon Day Use parking lot in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Kananaskis. It’s the only trail that leaves directly from the parking lot. The other two Kananaskis snowshoe trails that start in the area (Penstock Loop and Canyon snowshoe trails) begin next to the toilets across the road.
Directions to the Kananaskis Lower Lake Region
The directions to the Kananaskis Lower Lake region are the same regardless of whether you start from Calgary, Canmore or Banff. Take the TransCanada Highway to Kananaskis Trail (Hwy 40).
Drive south until you reach the Kananaskis winter gate, where you turn right onto Kananaskis Lakes Trail. Follow the road until you see the Canyon Day Use parking lot sign. Turn right and follow the road to the parking lot.
The Lower Lake snowshoe trailhead is well marked near the lake and immediately enters the trees.
Another alternative would be to do the Marsh Loop snowshoe from the William Watson Lodge to the Lower Lake snowshoe.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail Map
If you’re like us, you typically want to have a map of this snowshoe on your phone. We use and recommend the AllTrails app, but the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe is easy enough to follow without a map.
As with all official Kananaskis snowshoe trails, there are orange diamond snowshoe trail signs marking the way. The Lower Kananaskis Lake trail is easy to follow as it’s just one single trail that leaves from the parking lot and ends at the access to the Marsh Loop snowshoe trial.
The Lower Kananaskis Lake trail appears on this pdf map of Peter Lougheed Winter Trails.
Snowshoeing Lower Kananaskis Lake with Kids
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is a kid friendly Kananaskis snowshoe trail. The lack of difficult hills coupled with the reasonably short (out and back) distance of 5 km makes the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe a good choice with kids. There’s also plenty of deep snow all around the parking lot for kids to play in.
Where to Stop for Lunch or a Break
At the end of the trail, take the short access trail towards the Marsh Loop. Along this portion you’ll find benches with incredible views! If it’s time for lunch before you start, there’s a picnic table near the start of the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail with equally good views of the lake.
Expect that you’ll have some work to do clearing snow off the benches or picnic table, so we recommend you bring a winter picnic blanket if you have room in your day bag.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Trail Safety
Kananaskis Wildlife Safety
In the dead of winter, the bears around the Kananaskis Lakes 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.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail Report
It’s always a good idea to check the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail conditions before you leave home. Alberta Parks publishes a Lower Kananaskis Lake Trail Report for the snowshoe trail which details any area closures or known animal risks.
Lower Kananaskis Lake Snowshoe Trail Logistics
- There are toilets at the Canyon Day Use parking lot.
- There are no drinking water facilities, so bring as much water as you’ll need from home.
- On-leash dogs are allowed on the Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail.
- The Lower Kananaskis Lake trail is part of the High Rockies Winter Trail and is also used for fat biking in Kananaskis. Please share the trail.
What to Bring for Hiking Lower Kananaskis Lake 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.
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail often runs through deep forest, keeping you in the shade most of the time. When you are in an open area, you may enjoy the warmth of the sun, but the cold winds coming off the Kananaskis Lakes will make you cold quickly. In the winter, shade and wind result in noticeably colder temperatures, so you’ll be adding layers quickly to keep warm!
Lower Kananaskis Lake Foot Traction Recommendations
The Lower Kananaskis Lake snowshoe trail is pretty flat, with only a few hills of any consequence. You could probably do this as a Kananaskis winter hike 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.
If you are going to snowshoe the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail, 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.
Winter Hiking Traction Devices
If you are going to winter hike the Lower Kananaskis Lake 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.
How to Decide on Snowshoes or Microspikes?
We usually throw both in the car, just in case. We know that the Lower Kananaskis Lake trail is popular enough that it should be packed down soon after a large snowfall, however there’s no guarantee.
Once we arrive, we do a quick assessment to see if the trail has been packed down enough. If it has, we’ll wear our spikes. Even if it has been packed down, if the snow is still soft then snowshoes will make this Kananaskis winter hike easier.
To do this trail as a loop, snowshoes would be required for a return trip along the Lower Kananaskis Lake. As always, don’t venture on the ice unless you know it’s safe to do so.
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.
The Lower Kananaskis Lake is a very enjoyable easy snowshoe trail in Kananaskis. It’s packed with great scenery to enjoy for the length of this snowshoe or winter hike in Kananaskis. It also has plenty of options to extend it into a longer snowshoe by joining one of the other Kananaskis snowshoe trails nearby.
Interested in other easy winter trails in Kananaskis? See our list of Easy Cross-Country Skiing Trails in Kananaskis.
More Great Kananaskis Activities in Winter
Banff Trip Planning Resources
- How to Get to Banff National Park
- Getting Around Banff without a Car
- Expert Tips to Spot Banff Wildlife
- 30+ Amazing Things to do in Banff in Winter
- Snowshoeing in Banff
- Visiting Banff in December
- Visiting Banff in January
- Ice Skating in Banff
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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.
As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.