The Torpor snowshoe trail is a new trail near the Kananaskis Lakes within the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The Torpor Loop Trail is an easy Kananaskis snowshoe trail which winds its way through four major day use areas within the Kananaskis Lakes.
As one of the newest Kananaskis snowshoe trails, not many people know about the Torpor snowshoe trail – in fact, we didn’t see a single person on the Torpor trail on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in January. If you like a little solitude, the Torpor Loop snowshoe trail is a great alternative to some of the more popular Kananaskis winter trails, such as the Chester Lake snowshoe trail.
What You’ll Find in This Article on Torpor Snowshoe Trail:
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Torpor Loop Snowshoe Highlights
The Torpor snowshoe trail is a loop with several starting points. For reference, we snowshoed the Torpor trail in a clockwise direction starting at the Boulton Bridge Day Use parking lot.
Here are the highlights of the Torpor snowshoe trail:
The Torpor snowshoe trail begins though a dense evergreen forest which looked so beautiful after a heavy overnight snowfall. Be sure to listen to the sound of the brave little chickadees spending their winter in Kananaskis.
After 0.5km the Torpor snowshoe trail leaves the forest and follows a power line for 1.5km to the Elk Pass parking lot. The wide path between the trees provides excellent views of snow capped Mt. Fox (2,973m), The Turret (2,575m) and Mt. Foch (3,180m).
The mountain views are so nice you’ll barely notice the power lines. If you travel counter-clockwise you’ll enjoy nice views of Little Lawson Peak (2,386m) and Mount Inflexible (3,000m) through the trees.
Beyond the Elk Pass parking lot, the Torpor snowshoe trail re-enters a dense forest. The trail follows a mountain creek for a while, which we could hear clearly but could barely see through the snow.
The forest thins a little before you cross the Kananaskis Lakes Trail to start the second half of the loop. At this stage the Torpor Loop snowshoe trail overlaps the High Rockies winter trail, which in-turn is part of the TransCanada Trail.
The trails is nice and wide on this stretch of trail allowing room for groups to walk next to each other. Despite walking parallel to the eastern shore of the Lower Kananaskis Lake you rarely see it through the thick snow covered trees.
The next leg of the Torpor snowshoe trail runs through the B & C loops of the Kananaskis Lower Lake Campground. It’s always fun to snowshoe through a campground in the winter – you really get a sense for how much snow there is on the ground by how high it’s piled on top of the picnic tables.
After the Lower Lake Campground you rejoin the High Rockies Trail where it crosses over a beautifully snowy and half-frozen Boulton Creek.
After the Boulton Creek Bridge, the forest thins a little bit and then follows the Lower Lake Day Use road – this is not the nicest stretch of the Torpor Trail, but it’s only 300m long. Being on the side of the road allows for some nice mountain views at least.
Before long the Torpor Trail again enters the forest on your way to the Bouton Creek Trading Post (closed for the winter). On your way back to your car at the Boulton Bridge Day Use parking lot, you’ll pass the interesting Boulton Creek Cabin near the Boulton Creek Interpretive Trail trailhead.
These top Banff cabin rentals are in much better shape than the Boulton Creek Cabin!
Torpor Snowshoe Trail Stats
How Long is the Torpor Loop Trail?
The Alberta Parks webpage states the Torpor snowshoe loop is 6.1km long. I recorded the distance on the AllTrails app as 7.0km.
How Steep is the Torpor Snowshoe Trail?
The Torpor snowshoe trail is about as flat as you’ll find anywhere in Kananaskis or Banff National Park. There are a few hills along the Torpor trail, but they are either short or have a very gentle slope. The total elevation gain you’ll encounter snowshoeing the Torpor Trail is 279m for an average slope of just 4%.
How Hard is the Torpor Snowshoe Loop?
If you can manage the moderate 6km distance, the Torpor snowshoe trail is otherwise a very easy Kananaskis snowshoe trail. The main trail has hard-packed snow and is very flat for a mountain snowshoe trail. The Torpor Loop Trail is a kid-friendly Kananaskis snowshoe trail – our kids (aged 5 & 7) were able to complete it without issue.
We have included the Torpor Loop Trail in our list of easy Kananaskis snowshoe trails.
How Long Does It Take to Snowshoe Torpor Loop Trail?
It should take a typical adult about 1.5 hours to snowshoe the full loop of the Torpor Trail.
We recently did the Torpor Loop snowshoe trail with our kids (aged 5 & 7). They were pretty tired from the kid-friendly Shark Lake snowshoe trail a few days prior, so it it took us quite a while. We snowshoed the Torpor Loop Trail with our kids in 3 hours.
Torpor Loop Snowshoe Trail Location
The Torpor snowshoe trail takes you on a grand tour of the Kananaskis Lower Lake region. Along the way, you’ll pass several Kananaskis Lower Lake day use areas, giving you plenty of choices of where to start this easy snowshoe trail.
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 get to the Lower Lake day use area of your choice.
Boulton Creek Campground
The closest parking lot for the Torpor snowshoe is in the Boulton Creek Campground. It’s a very big parking lot as it gives access to many popular trails like Kananaskis fat bike trails, cross-country ski trails, and additional snowshoe trails.
To find the Torpor snowshoe trailhead, you’ll need to walk south-west through the parking lot towards the Boulton Creek Trading Post. The Torpor trail runs north-south between the Trading Post and the Kananaskis Lakes Trail.
Boulton Bridge Day Use Area
We began our Torpor Loop snowshoe outing from the Boulton Bridge day use area. It’s just 1 minute further south from the larger Boulton Creek Campground parking lot. We chose Boulton Bridge as it’s a smaller parking lot and it’s much easier to find the Torpor Loop trailhead (about 30 feet to the right of the toilets).
Elk Pass Day Use Area
The furthest parking lot for the Torpor snowshoe trail is at the Elk Pass day use area. It’s also large parking lot with several popular Kananaskis snowshoe trails and cross-country ski trails.
To find the Torpor snowshoe trailhead, you’ll need to walk back down the access road just a little bit – you’ll see orange snowshoe trail markers on both sides of the access road. There may be another Torpor trailhead at the south-west corner of the Elk Pass parking lot, but I didn’t see any signage.
Torpor Loop Trail Map
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, but the Torpor snowshoe trail doesn’t (yet) appear in their database. We have submitted our trail data to AllTrails requesting they add it, so I will update this post when it appears.
The Torpor snowshoe trail is so new that it doesn’t even appear on the trail maps at the trailheads along the route. Don’t let this discourage you though, it’s still very possible to navigate the Torpor snowshoe without AllTrails.
As with all official Kananaskis snowshoe trails, there are orange diamond snowshoe trail signs marking the way. The Torpor trail is well marked in some areas, but sporadic in others.
The Torpor 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 Bridge (where it’s easy to find the trailhead) and follow the orange diamond signs, it’s pretty easy to follow the snowshoe trail.
Snowshoeing Torpor Loop with Kids
The Torpor snowshoe trail is a kid-friendly Kananaskis snowshoe trail. The lack of difficult hills coupled with the reasonably short distance of 6-7km makes the Torpor snowshoe possible for all but the youngest kids. As long as you have the time to allow your kids to play in the deep snow just off the trail, you’ll have a great family outing.
Our experience snowshoeing with kids is that they tend to get bored faster vs summer hiking. 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.
Another fun activity to do while snowshoeing Torpor 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
We stopped for lunch on a huge fallen tree on the southern leg of the Torpor snowshoe trail. The tree is near a trail junction on the right-hand side just after crossing the Kananaskis Lakes Trail to start the northbound stretch on the High Rockies Winter Trail.
We love having lunch on fallen trees, but if you prefer a picnic table just continue snowshoeing north-bound for an additional 1.1km. Other picnic tables on the Torpor snowshoe trail are found at the Lower Lake Campground, the Boulton Creek Trading Post or at the Boulton Creek Parking lot.
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.
Torpor 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 wolves, cougars, elk, etc. still provide a safety risk to Kananaskis visitors. Take a few minutes and read “Living with Wildlife” by Alberta Parks.
Torpor Loop Trail Report
It’s always a good idea to check the Torpor snowshoe trail conditions before you leave home. Alberta Parks publishes a Torpor 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.
Torpor Loop Snowshoe Trail Logistics
- There are toilets at the Boulton Bridge Campground, Boulton Bridge Day Use area and the Elk Pass Day Use area.
- There are no drinking water facilities, so bring as much water as you’ll need from home.
- There is no camping or fires allowed in the area.
- On-leash dogs are allowed on the Torpor snowshoe trail.
What to Bring for Hiking Torpor 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.
The Torpor 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 may get you. In the winter, shade and wind result in noticeably colder temperatures, so you’ll be adding layers quickly to keep warm!
Torpor Loop Foot Traction Recommendations
The Torpor snowshoe trail is pretty flat, with only a few hills of any consequence. You could probably winter hike the Torpor 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.
If you are going to snowshoe the Torpor 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.
Winter Hiking Traction Devices
If you are going to winter hike the Torpor 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.
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 Torpor Loop is a very enjoyable easy snowshoe trail in Kananaskis. It’s packed with great scenery, and best of all, you should have the trail mostly to yourself. It’s a great alternative to Chester Lake is you are tired of crowds!
Even More Fun Things to do in Kananaskis 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
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Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.
When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.