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James Walker Creek Trail


  • James Walker Creek Trail



  • March 22, 2019



  • Ed, Jace, Craig, Ian, Lisa, Dave, Lorna, Geoff, Lynn, Oak, Jane, Ceili, Luna, Peter, Lisa, Oggie, Chris, Finn, Winnie, Sasha, Feiko, AJ, Darcy, Angela, Russ, Skippy, Buck, Calvin,  Peggy, Rob, Mia, Tanner



  • the trailhead is at the Sawmill Day Use area on the Spray Lakes/Smith Dorrien road, and you can get to the trail two ways
  • from Calgary head west and then take Highway 40 to Kananaskis Lakes where you turn on to the Smith Dorrien for 16 km
  • from Canmore, it is about 45 minutes, and the turnoff is 5 minutes past the Chester and Burstall parking lots on your left-hand side



Degree of difficulty:

  • the tricky part can be starting on the correct trail as our group headed out of the end of the parking lot on to the trail that heads over to Chester Lake parking lot
  • the correct route is just to the left of the outhouses, and you start straight up the mountain but after about 50 meters take the trail that veers 45 degrees to the left
  • once this trail reaches a trail running parallel to the base of the hill, you turn left
  • after about five minutes there is an orange trail marker on the left-hand side of the trail, and you take the trail to the right that veers at a 45-degree angle
  • pay very close attention as it took me several tries to get the correct routing
  • from here the trail climbs gradually up to an open cirque (small unnamed pond in the summer) with some big rocks
  • at this point the snow was soft, and most people put on snowshoes to cross over the open area to the treeline at the far end
  • in the summertime, we proceed into the forest and onward to the upper valley, but this is a bit trickier in the winter depending on how much snow there is
  • it took us 3 hours round trip at a leisurely pace, and it is good for moderately fit people



Interesting notes:

  • is one of the least known trails and hence least traveled trails and yet it has some spectacular views (don’t tell anyone but your absolute best friends about this hidden gem)
  • there is often bears in the area, and due to the narrow valley it is recommended to break out into your best rock and roll singing on the way up thru the valley unless Gerard is tagging along with his backpack tunes blasting away
  • we had a bluebird day that made for some amazing photos
  • was the largest group of two and four-legged people (32 of us) we have had along for any of our backcountry journeys