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Chester Lake Hike


  • Chester Lake



  • October 10, 2020



  • Ed, Jace, (Jasper), An, Mike, Jane, Luna, (Ceili), Peter, Lisa, (Oggie), Tomonori, Stephanie, Rob, Ollie, Tim, Anglea, Libby, Oscar, Piper, Ian, Brenda, Mike, Angela, Russ, Gerard, Carolyn, Dave, Lorna



  • a 60-minute drive (45 km) up the Smith Dorrien (Spray Lakes) road from Canmore
  • turn left (east) into the parking lot, which is direct across from the Burstall Pass parking lot
  • you can also access it from the Kananaskis Lakes Road
  • the trail is at the far end of the parking lot, and be careful not to head to the right behind the outhouses as this leads up to Headwall Lakes



Degree of difficulty:

  • 480 meters elevation to the first lake up Three Lakes Valley
  • 12 km round trip to the first lake and back
  • the hike took us just under four hours
  • we went out on the main trail and half of us came back on the snowshoe trail which was empty compared to the throngs on the main trail
  • the first 2 km are on a logging road that turns into a hiking trail
  • moderate climb most of the way to the lake, which only took us an hour
  • at the lake, we took the first trail (there are two of them that end up at the same place) on the left-hand side of the lake up to the Elephant Rocks and then beyond to Three Lakes Valley
  • from Chester Lake to the Elephant Rocks is a 10-15 minute stroll
  • there are a few other options when you reach Chester Lake (go up the scree behind the lake into the upper Chester Valley where you can either enjoy the valley or ascend the pass to the Fortress Mountain Col or descent to Headwall Lakes and loop back to the parking lot which are both long and challenging days)
  • this is a moderate trail, and even though we were out for four hours, it was a leisurely pace enjoying all the beauty of the area



Interesting notes:

  • the initial part of the trail is quite forested, but once you break out of the trees, the 360 views are amazing
  • the views include Mount Chester, Fortress Mountain, Mount Galatea, Mount Burstall, and Commonwealth Peak
  • on this day, we spread the ashes of Ceili (Mike & Jane’s dog), Oggie (Peter & Lisa’s dog), and our family dog Jasper (who passed back in 2009) in the Elephant Rocks alongside my buddy Binger who passed in 2013
  • most people are not aware of these Elephant Rocks, and it is one of the most unique and majestic sites in the Bow Valley
  • as well most people don’t know about the Three Lakes Valley, which is like being on the moon with rocks blanketing the entire valley
  • the other unique feature on this trail is the fields of small ‘hummock’ mounds which can be found as you break out of the trees on the ascent to the lake, near Chester Lake, and near the Elephant Rocks