Rawson Lake - Kananaskis Country - Hiking Alberta.

 

Mountain bound Rawson Lake is a spectacular hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Rawson Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The weather is less than ideal for this hike to Rawson Lake.  The carpool west begins from the Petro Canada Station near the intersection of Highway 22 with the TransCanada Highway west of Calgary for the turn to Kananaskis Trail south on dry pavement to the winter gate.  Kananaskis Lakes Road is wet but clear of snow until arrival at the upper parking area of Upper Kananaskis Lake.  It takes a few minutes to gear up with gaiters and hiking crampons.  Snowshoes are strapped on the pack in the event snow gets too deep at upper elevations.  Cloud is low and the potential for rain and/or snow seems high.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Indefatigable across Upper Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Mount Invincible across Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The Rawson Lake hike is 3.9 KM (2 3/8 miles) one way with 305 m (1000 ft) of elevation gain to a maximum elevation of 2,027 m (6,650 ft).  The trail begins with about 10 cm (4 inches) of fresh snow over packed trail beneath.  Wind has drifted the snow along the trail and soon the tracks of a coyote are encountered that had been walking the trail towards us before sensing our presence and veering away to avoid contact.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada A view across Upper Kananaskis Lake to Mount Invincible from the Rawson Lake hike in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Upper Kananaskis Lake Loop trail to the junction for Rawson Lake trail at Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Coyote tracks lead the way at trail beginning of the hike to Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Hiking clockwise on the Upper Kananaskis Loop trail, there are intermittent, small drainages which reveal snow depth and create attractive visual and audible oases worthy of a photograph.  About a kilometer into the hike on relatively flat trail arrival at the flood-damaged bridge over snowbound Sarrail Creek discovers it leaning to one side and blocked from passage by boards nailed over each end but apparently no one informed the coyote.  Passage across the lightly flowing creek creates excellent photo opportunities of icy water flow and the amazing view out to Upper Kananaskis Lake, even though the sky is overcast and cloud cover is low.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Small drainages create beautiful images and illustrate snow depth on the hike to Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Taking a moment to adjust gaiters. Wearing crampons for the beginning of the hike to Rawson Lake.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The Sarrail Creek bridge is dislodged, crooked and closed but it did not slow down wily coyote.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Sarrail Creek on the hike to Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view out to Upper Kananaskis Lake at Sarrail Creek, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Water flow at Sarrail Creek on the hike to Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail junction to Rawson Lake is a short distance past the Sarrail Creek bridge and 1.2 KM (3/4 of a mile) from the parking area.  A trailside map near the junction clearly illustrates the route and the nearly buried Rawson Lake trail sign hints at the trail location.  The climb up to the lake is 2.7 KM (1 3/4 miles).  Most of the 305 m (1000 ft) of elevation gain is in the first half.  The drifted snow gets deeper as elevation increases and trail definition gradually morphs from subtle to intuitive.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The trail sign at the junction of the Rawson Lake trail with Upper Kananaskis Loop trail in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The beginning of the snow covered and drifted 2.7 KM trail to Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The ascent trail to Rawson Lake becomes less and less discernible as we gain elevation above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada At higher elevation, heavy snow and drifting have virtually eliminated any evidence of the trail to Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Obscure depressions in the snow, hinting of possible past human activity, provide a bit of reassurance location is correct but the appearance of a nearly buried sign ensures imminent arrival at Rawson Lake.  The snow laden evergreen trees block any view to the lake until the last moment.  Arrival coincides with the beginning of a heavy fall of fluffy snow.  Mercifully, there is no wind.  A sheltered location near the shoreline provides the opportunity to sit in the snow on backpack rain covers while enjoying a well-earned lunch accompanied by the roar and visuals of a small avalanche on Mount Sarrail a safe distance away.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The no camping sign tells depth of snow and announces our arrival at Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view to the left on arrival at Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view straight down Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada. Massive Mount Sarrail is virtually obliterated by heavy snowfall.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view right at Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada At Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Lunch companion at Rawson Lake above Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada while sheltered from the snowfall under a nearby tree.

 

Following lunch the return trek begins, partially protected from the heavy snowfall by the evergreen canopy above.  Snow is accumulating, but tracks created on the trek in remain clear to lead out on the descent.  Heavy snow virtually eliminates visibility across Upper Kananaskis Lake.  Temperatures just below freezing keeps snow on the trees but as we pass the Sarrail Creek bridge the snow is mixed with light corn snow and drizzle so it is good to get back to the warmth and comfort of the vehicle.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada On the descent from Rawson Lake to Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Assuming the snowshoe relaxation pose on the descent from Rawson Lake.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The descent from Rawson Lake to Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Water runoff at Sarrail Creek, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada The view to the Peninsula across Upper Kananaskis Lake is obliterated by the snow storm in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Kananaskis Lakes Road is initially covered with snow and slush. By the time the drive continues a short distance north from the winter gate on Kananaskis Trail the pavement is dry for the remainder of the return drive to Calgary.

 

Rawson Lake, Upper Kananaskis Lake, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada Snow and slush on the Kananaskis Lakes Road, Kananaskis Country, Alberta, Canada

 

Rawson Lake has been an excellent hiking day, albeit substantially more challenging than expected.

Photographs for this post were taken on Sunday, May 4, 2014.

 

 

 

 

 

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Comments

Have just spent a lovely morning catching up on all your recent posts. What contrasts in weather but totally awesome beauty whatever the weather. Happy 'spring' hiking whenever that arrives!

Wondering if this is avalanche territory?

Lauren, The route from the upper parking area to the near end of Rawson Lake is not through avalanche terrain.  To go past the near end of Rawson Lake to hike/snowshoe along the edge of the lake towards Mount Sarrail at the far end enters and quickly moves into potentially serious avalanche terrain.  Enjoying lunch at the near end of the lake is often accompanied by the sight and sound of minor avalanche activity.  This is a very popular and perennially favorite snowshoe so it is likely there will be others nearby, particularly on the weekends.  If a strange set of conditions created an avalanche hazard between the parking area and the near end of Rawson Lake, it is likely the trail will be closed with clearly visible signs.  Hope this helps you.  Highly recommend you take advantage of the opportunity but although the trail is level along lakeside to the Rawson Lake branch, a short distance past beautiful and frozen Sarrail Falls, there is a sustained climb to Rawson Lake so it may be necessary to maintain a positive attitude for a short time.

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