Upper Kananaskis Lakes

Now that we have three kids under four, including one that is only 4 months old, mountain adventures are taking a backseat to playing in the yard and various nap schedules. However, we did get out for a nice morning trip to the Upper Kananaskis Lakes area.

The plan was to hike around the Upper Lakes Trail, and if possible, try and get up to Rawson Lake. IMG_8565

The great thing about hiking with kids is that they are generally full of energy. The kind of energy that radiates from their eyes and their smile and their legs as they race up and down the trail. It’s an infections energy that feels endless… until out of nowhere it hits a giant brick wall and cascades into shards of tantrums, whining, and pleas of “carry me!” Fortunately we didn’t experience any of this at Upper Kananaskis Lakes, but we came prepared for it anyway and brought along our double-Chariot and the Ergo. In this way we could transport all three kids if we really needed to; it wouldn’t be pleasant, but neither is abandoning one in the woods (c:

From what I remembered of the last time I was on that trail (~10 years ago) it was a fairly smooth and fairly open trail; surely it would qualify as a Chariot Friendly trail. As we started down the Upper Kananaskis Trail it was clear that trail was indeed Chariot Friendly – assuming you didn’t mind lifting it up and over roots, rocks, and ledges. This wasn’t bad with a 4mo old in it I didn’t really mind, so we stoically kept  moving along. Next time I think we’d leave the Chariot at home and just use snacks and breaks instead to make sure that the kids can make the trip.

For us, the trail ended at Sarrail Falls ~1km in.

The bridge across the creek was wiped out in the 2013 floods and has not yet been rebuilt. We briefly considered continuing, and many helpful people offered to help get our Chariot across the creek, but ultimately decided that was a poor idea. It really wouldn’t do to be on the far side of a creek later on with three kids running out of energy.

We always have the kids carry their own backpack, for a few reasons:

  1. They love it, it makes them feel like they’re “really hiking”. Since Jamie and I usually have one, they want one too
  2. In the super-unlikely, and super-uncool even they get separated from us in the woods they’ll have jacket, some food, and some water. It isn’t all of the 10 essentials but it’s as much as they can carry at this age
  3. It’s less stuff that I have to carry!

We turned back and went to play at the lake shore while eating sandwiches and trial mix. I’m always amazed how much fun the kids have just throwing rocks into the water and generally exploring somewhere new.




View across Upper Kananaskis with Mt. Lyautey on the left and Mt. Indefatigable on the right. IMG_8581

Mt. Indefatigable (which was fun to scramble for sunrise)
As is our style these days we took off shortly after lunch and let the kids sleep in the car. Since Logan and Riley are both still napping 1.5-2hrs per day this works out pretty well. They never nap as long in the car and I really have to be careful to hit the cattle-gates just right or risk waking them up.


  1. Kelly Neufeld
    August 24, 2015

    Hey Jon, just because the kids are young doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors. We camped up at Elbow Lake last weekend and our kids were the oldest ones there.There was one couple who had two kids, probably under the age of 4, and they had a chariot parked beside their tent. Another guy was there with his 3 boys, probably aged 4-7, and they each had their own pack with their clothes and sleeping bag. It was great to see!!!

  2. jonneufeld
    August 24, 2015

    Hey Kelly, that’s really cool to hear. I know that when our youngest gets to be ~4 it will be different game that it is now. How was your trip to Elbow Lake?

  3. Kelly Neufeld
    August 24, 2015

    Our trip was fantastic! Tracey and the girls had never been backpacking before so it was all new for them. We stayed 2 nights. The weather was good – it only rained the first night – and we were mostly warm. I’d been to Elbow Lake before but always from the other side of the valley via mountain bike. This trail was pretty steep going in… good thing it was only 1.3km long!! Fishing was slow but I was sight casting my 4 weight fly rod to a decent size fish for a while. The kids scrambled up the scree on Mt. Elpoca to just above the treeline but Tracey and I stayed down at the lake. We’d like to do another multi-day trip next year, maybe something a little further in to the back country, a little more remote.Do you have any suggestions?

  4. jonneufeld
    August 24, 2015

    (c: Cool! There are lots of great options for easy multi-day trips, these ones come to mind:
    – Kananaskis Lakes, to Point then Forks and either Three-Isle Lake or Turbine Canyon – depending on how much elevation gain you want

    – Mt. Romulus campground is nice and really accessible on the old fire road in Elbow Valley http://www.jonathanneufeld.com/trip-reports/mt-romulus/

    – Northover makes a good loop (just don’t go on the glacier like we did… that was dumb!) http://www.jonathanneufeld.com/trip-reports/2007-07-17-northover-loop/

    – “Larry’s Camp” up through Johnston’s Canyon past the Ink Pots

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