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Chester Lake Hike


  • Chester Lake



  • March 16, 2024



  • Ed, Dave, Rod, Craig



  • a 60-minute drive (45 km) up the Smith Dorrien (Spray Lakes) road from Canmore
  • turn left (east) into the parking lot, which is directly across from the Burstall Pass parking lot
  • you can also access it from the Kananaskis Lakes Road, which is slightly shorter if you are coming from Calgary
  • 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:

  • 425 meters to the first lake up Three Lakes Valley
  • 10 km
  • the hike took us three hours
  • we followed the snowshoe route which has a few steep climbs in the first half hour and then another short climb from Chester Lake to the Elephant Rocks
  • at the lake, we took the second 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 minute stroll, and then it took about 20 minutes through untracked snow up a ridge just before the first lake
  • this is a moderate trail that we did at a leisurely pace enjoying all the beauty of the area



Interesting notes:

  • it was a spectacularly sunny day once we reached the Three Lakes Valley and then on the descent
  • there were only 32 other people on the trail, which is very low for Chester Lake, especially on such a glorious day
  • 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
  • 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 in the upper part of the 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


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