Elephant Rocks beyond Chester Lake are giant boulders in summer and magical sculptures in Winter.
Snowshoeing, sledding, child-like play and fabulous formations can all be discovered in the Peter Lougheed Provincial Park component of Kananaskis Country west of Calgary and south of Canmore, Alberta.
Snowshoe to Chester Lake from the well-signed parking area for Chester Lake along Smith-Dorrien Trail south of Canmore, then proceed a short distance further to Elephant Rocks. In the right conditions it may be wise to be equipped with a rolled up Magic Carpet securely attached to the backpack because at Elephant Rocks there could be potential for a lot of fun.
Each year Elephant Rocks present a different image but the layered, wind-swept snow piled on massive boulders is invariably spectacular. From the far end of Chester Lake a well-defined trail to the left up a short hill leads to Elephant Rocks.
Access to Elephant Rocks is a 40 KM (25 mile) drive south from Canmore, Alberta followed by a 5 KM (3⅛ mile) one-way, uphill snowshoe on relatively easy grade to Chester Lake. The snowshoe trail and the ski trail are shared for a short distance before the signed snowshoe trail branches off to the right. Courteous snowshoers avoid damaging ski tracks.
At the far end of Chester Lake there is a short, fairly steep, narrow (skis may need skins) trail leading to Elephant Rocks. A quick trip around and behind Elephant Rocks reveals an excellent slope which can be ascended, often in thigh-deep powder.
The great joy is to attain exciting speed sledding down this slope. Near the bottom, many smaller boulders concealed by deep snow create moguls which can leave a sledder airborne. Since the angle of departure cannot always be completely predicted, bailing out is often required to prevent impact with the very large Elephant Rocks. Great fun.
No matter how well and tightly dressed, snow will invade your inner sanctum somewhere. Playing like a child with others always guarantees hilarious laughter punctuated with the occasional scream of excitement. Or, you can just sit quietly and enjoy the absolute splendor with a thermos of hot chocolate. The impression will be indelible. The following photos were taken on a snowshoeing mission with a good friend.