Carnarvon Lake Hike

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of hiking one of Alberta’s premier hikes, if not one of the top hikes in Canada. Carnarvon Lake, located in the Kananaskis area, is a difficult 20.4 km hike with an elevation gain of 857 metres. The hike starts off flat, going through a pasture area, where I saw a bunch of cows grazing.

About 2 kilometres later you’ll come across one of two river crossings. You’ll want a pair of water shoes here so you don’t soak your hiking boots. Even in mid-July the water was up to my waist, and somewhat strong so make sure to follow proper river crossing techniques. If you’re travelling with a partner, put the stronger person upstream, unclip your backpack, and gently cross the river. Hiking poles may also be useful here, however I don’t hike with them.

After the first river crossing you’ll walk about another 0.5 kilometers to the second river crossing, which is only about 1 foot deep, but you’ll still want water shoes for that one.

After crossing the second river you’ll enter a forested area that has a somewhat gentle incline for the next 2/3rd’s of the hike. After the forested area you’ll emerge to a steep scree (loose shale over a slope), with a bunch of switchbacks containing a few chains, and even a ladder, before emerging at the freezing cold turquoise blue lake.

I soaked in the freezing cold lake for a while to cool off, as it was 32°C out the day I went hiking. After cooling off it was time to head back to the car. The descent is a bit more difficult than the ascent, so make sure to just take your time and be careful. The hike took me about 7.5 hours return, but I was taking my time.