HIke to Barrier Lake Lookout

Canada Barrier Lake Parking Lot, Kananaskis, Alberta

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Distance: 6.2-9.3 miles (10-15 km). Elevation gain: 2,050 ft (625 m). Easy to find and navigate day hike. Beautiful views of Alberta's prairies, foothills, Barrier Lake and Kananaskis Valley. Various trail/route options depending on time or personal preference. Hikers, runners, mountain bikers and snowshoers welcome. Accessible all year round. Family/group friendly.

From the parking lot, cross the dam, heading west onto the trail, with the lake on your left. Once you reach the forest, you will come to a 'Y' intersection, from which point you have two options:

  1. 6.7 miles (10.8 km), 4 hours roundtrip, out-and-back
    For a shorter hike, go right at the 'Y' intersection and make your way up to the lookout via a wider, old access road. You will begin a steady ascent, switch backing through the forest. The trail is wide most of the way, though it narrows as you reach the top. You will approach a scramble/steep section right before the first lookout. The hike peaks at the lookout over Barrier Lake - after you've had your fill of the view, head back the way you came.

  2. 9.3 miles (15 km), 5 hours roundtrip, loop (clockwise)
    If you have more time, I suggest going left at the 'Y' intersection and hiking to the lookout via Jewel Pass. While you see a sign on your left, leading into a dense forest, you will begin your ascent up the mountain. This trail is quite scenic, with a small waterfall and other views along the way. Once you get to the lookout over Barrier Lake, you will hike back down the other side of the mountain, heading east.

From this first lookout, you also have the option to continue for a half mile (800 m) to the Fire Lookout (0.5 mi/800 m further), where there are 360 views of Kananskis and Banff National Park. So if you are feeling ambitious, continue to hike west up the mountain. You will hike through the forest before you come to a viewpoint overlooking Alberta's prairies and foothills, to the east. You will also get a perfect view of Mount Yamnuska (another great day hike/scramble), and on a really clear day you will be able to see Calgary's skyscrapers in the distance. From here, you will hike along a ridge until you reach the Fire Lookout, which is a great place to hang out and have a snack before heading back down.

Getting there: Heading west from Calgary on Highway 1, drive until you reach the Stoney Nakoda Casino Resort and Casino on your left. You will take that exit onto Highway 40, and head south into Kananaskis. The parking lot for the hike is located on the north end of Barrier Lake, only a few kilometers down the road, on your right hand side.

Pack List

  • Day pack
  • Water
  • Trekking poles
  • Bear spray
  • Snacks/food for the day
  • Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen (check weather)
  • Camera
  • Snowshoes (winter)
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How to Get There

3 months ago

Great Views

Another one in Kananaskis that's pretty easy but also rewarding with great views

3 months ago

about 1 year ago

Fun Hill Climb

A good quick hike with nice views of Barrier Lake. The trail can be busy on good weather weekend days but otherwise it's a great little hill climb! Watch out for the grey jays who might want to share your sandwich at the lookout point!

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Good Introduction To Hiking

It's a great intro to hiking and hopefully serves as inspiration to the views the Rockies provide. Leaves a bit to be desired for intermediates and up.

over 1 year ago

Added by Brooke Willson

24 years old, currently living in Central Alberta. Having obtained my Social Worker Degree, I am currently employed as a FT Youth Worker and Resiliency Coach at a K-8 school in my home town. Working school hours has its benefits, as I am able to spend every weekend as well as holidays and summer months out adventuring, exploring and traveling. Kayaking, hiking, biking, running, photography and camping are some of my favourite activities. Also living so close to the Rocky Mountains I am blessed with endless trails, scenery and opportunity to explore. With 14 countries under my belt I want to and will continue to explore our beautiful world on an International level.

Activities:

Photography, Mountain Biking, Snowshoeing, Hiking

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Year Round

Rating:

Features:

Dog Friendly
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
Lake
Scenic

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