Backpack the Northover Ridge Loop
Canada › Rawson Lake Trailhead
Added by Kyle Frost
- Distance: 25 miles roundtrip
- Elevation gain: 4,000 ft
- Duration: 1-3 days
- Ridgeline hike with epic mountain views
- Visit alpine lakes, rivers, and waterfalls
While most people opt to hike this route as a 2 or 3 day trip, camping at Aster and Three Isle Lakes, this description is for a 1 day loop. This is NOT an easy hike to do in 1 day, however, and the ridge is no pushover for any length trip. Exercise caution and don't be afraid to backtrack if weather proves an issue. Hike safe!
To get an early start on the day, spend the night near the trailhead. When you are ready to head out, skirt the edge of Upper Kananaskis Lake before cutting through the trees around Hidden Lake. From the back of the lake, the trail is easy to follow, taking you towards Fossil Falls and the headwall of Aster Lake.
After you reach Aster, you can choose to go around either the north or south side – both may require getting a little wet. If you choose to head south, the trail is narrow and constantly skirts very close to the lakeshore. The trail may disappear, briefly, in the drainage above the lake – keep to your right as you cross the drainage, and the trail will eventually become visible heading up the ridge.
After 10 miles of climbing (about 4,000 ft gain) you will reach the top of Northover Ridge, a several kilometer stretch of ridge line that straddles BC and Alberta. The trail stays along the ridge, so please be careful of slipping – a fall to either side may not be fatal, but would put you in a pretty serious condition.
The sketchiest part of the ridge is a 25-foot portion of trail, about 1.5 feet wide, with a severe drop on each side. To cross safely, you can either crawl across, or time your crossings with the wind.
You will then come down the ridge, through snowbanks and skree, to Three Isle Lake. The trail climbs a bit over the headwall, here, but the rest of the day will be mostly downhill, with 13 knee-killing miles to cover.
Depending on whether you parked at the north or south parking lot, you will follow a wide (seemingly never-ending) trail around Upper Kananaskis Lake. It is recommended to park at the north lot, so that you don't have to suffer the last, demoralizing push between the two lots.
- 10 essentials
- Plenty of water and potentially a filter or iodine tablets
- Cold weather gear
- Topo map and compass
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