Rae Lake Kananaskis – A Lovely Little Recognized Hike

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The Rae Lake hike in Kananaskis Nation, particularly in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park, flies underneath the radar. A part of the reason being that it’s an unofficial path, and it isn’t signed. A cairn in conjunction with the path will be seen while you’re heading to the Tombstone Backcountry Campground, however you’d must be in search of it and know that it takes to Rae Lake. When you’re on the path, its boot-beaten and straightforward to comply with.

We did the Rae Lake Kananaskis hike as a part of a 3-day backpacking journey to the Tombstone Backcountry Campground. We additionally included hikes to Piper Go and the Tombstone Lakes. Rae Lake will also be achieved as a 17.2 kilometre out and again hike from the Elbow Go Day-use space.

Test the Kananaskis Path report earlier than you go – if solely to get updates on the paths within the rapid space. You should definitely buy a Kananaskis Conservation Go.

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It's hard to get close to Rae Lake without getting your feet wet
It’s exhausting to get near Rae Lake with out getting your ft moist

Discovering the trailhead

The trailhead is similar one that’s used for Elbow Lake. It’s positioned on Freeway 40, 62 km south of the Trans-Canada Freeway and simply 5.1 km north of Highwood Go. This stretch of freeway is just open from June 15 till December 1 yearly.

The parking zone can get very busy, particularly on weekends. We ended up parking on the freeway – and have been in a position to safely go away our automobile there for 2 nights.


Rae Lake particulars

Distance: Roughly 17.2 km spherical journey

Elevation achieve: 432 metres

Time wanted as a day hike: 5 – 7 hours

Season: By late June the snow was lengthy gone; hike till the snow flies someday in late October

Canines allowed: Sure on leash

Random tenting allowed: Sure however go away no hint. You would possibly wish to learn Shit within the Woods by Invoice McKibben. 

Map: Gem Trek Kananaskis Lakes (The route makes excellent sense while you see it laid out on the map.)

The Rae Lake hike to the cairns

Hike as much as Elbow Lake from the Elbow Go Day-use space. Observe the path alongside the west shore of the lake to achieve a creeklet with a log over it. Keep left and proceed up a highway (be careful for mountain bikers) into a fantastic meadow with beautiful views.

On the 4.3 km mark, you’ll be capable to see into Piper Creek Canyon. On route you’ll move some stones that mark a brief spur path to Edworthy Falls. The falls are value a brief facet journey.

In one other kilometre search for cairns on the left-hand facet of the highway marking the path to Piper Go. Fifty paces later search for cairns on the right-hand facet of the highway – as you’re heading northeast. It marks one of many routes into Rae Lake. From there the path to the lake is clear although by no means anticipate to see an indication. 

The photographs on this weblog illustrate a clockwise loop to Rae Lake that begins on the cairns, turns proper on the Sheep River Valley Path, goes as much as Rae Lake after which descends through a slim path to return out on the highway arising from Elbow Lake. However you don’t must do a loop.

You may flip proper on the first cairns and easily do and out and again hike to Rae Lake. 

Crossing the outlet to Elbow Lake on route to the Tombstone Lakes
Crossing the outlet to Elbow Lake on path to the Tombstone Lakes
Very scenic walking in the direction of the Tombstone Lakes
Very scenic strolling within the path of the Tombstone Lakes
It's worth making a short detour to Edworthy Falls
It’s value making a brief detour to Edworthy Falls

Instructions from the highest of the Elbow River Street Path to Rae Lake

We did the Rae Lake hike from the Tombstone Backcountry Campground. We needed to retrace our steps from the campground to achieve the signal seen within the picture under. That intersection is on the finish of the highway arising from Elbow Lake. As you face the signal you may see that you simply go left to the campground and proper to proceed on the Sheep River Valley Street-Path that can lead you in direction of Rae Lake.

We hiked up the Sheep River Valley Street-Path for 0.8 km. At that time there’s a hairpin flip and in case you look intently on the best you’d see a cairn. (In the event you have been making an attempt to do a loop from the opposite path, you’d flip left right here and comply with the path for 0.5 km to satisfy up with the path you initially took as much as Rae Lake.)

On the hairpin flip we stayed left on the highway and adopted it for an additional 1.1 km. Preserve your eyes open for a cairn on the best simply earlier than a culvert. On the cairn head proper into the bushes on an apparent path and comply with it because it climbs for 1.4 km to achieve Rae Lake. The Rae Creek Gorge will probably be in your left all the way in which as much as the lake. It’s fairly a stunning part of mountaineering and the grade is reasonable.

Go left at the T-junction to reach Tombstone Lakes and Campground
At a T-junction there’s a map displaying the Tombstone Lakes and Campground 
Look for a cairn on the right before the culvert - this trail goes directly up to Rae Lake
Search for a cairn on the best earlier than the culvert – this path goes straight as much as Rae Lake
Heading towards Rae Lake from the Sheep River Valley Road
Heading in direction of Rae Lake from the Sheep River Valley Street
Pretty scenery on the way up to Rae Lake
Fairly mountain surroundings on the way in which as much as Rae Lake

Rae Lake

Rae Lake sits in a tranquil and really stunning setting under the north finish of Mount Rae, east of Tombstone Go. The few folks that go to accomplish that primarily as a day hike. However there was apparent tenting close to the outlet.

Random tenting is allowed right here as a result of it’s in Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. In the event you do camp, pack out what you pack in and go away no hint – one thing others have clearly not achieved. You may additionally camp within the meadows past the lake – and the hike to get water can be doable. 

Within the fall, benefit from the larch bushes in all their glory close to the lake.

Rae Lake is in a beautiful setting
Rae Lake is in a fantastic setting

Rae Lake right down to the highway arising from Elbow Lake

John and I totally loved the descent from the lake by meadows, grassy sections and open forest to achieve the road-trail arising from Elbow Lake. I discovered the path to be effectively used and all the time apparent. 

Once we reached the road-trail, we merely turned left and adopted it for five.3 km again to the automobile.

It was 36°C within the afternoon in late June so we made a beeline for chilly drinks and ice cream on the fuel station at Fortress Mountain on Freeway 40. It was manner too sizzling for our consolation however a minimum of there weren’t many biting bugs.

Trail leading away from the lake
Path main away from Rae Lake
Some wildflowers around in late June
Some wildflowers round in late June
Love the mountain scenery on the hike out
Love the mountain surroundings on the hike out
An easy grade going up or down
A straightforward grade going up or down from Rae Lake
The trail is well defined
The path is effectively outlined
Enjoy beautiful meadows on the way out
Get pleasure from stunning meadows on the hike out
When its 36C Elbow Lake looks particularly inviting
When its 36C Elbow Lake appears to be like significantly inviting

A couple of belongings you would possibly discover helpful on this hike

Additional studying on hikes alongside Freeway 40

Click on on the picture to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Rae Lake Kananaskis hike can also be done as part of a backpacking trip



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