Get off the beaten trail and hike to Memorial Lakes in the back country of Kananaskis.

History Note: This hike commemorates 13 passengers of three different air crafts that went down in the region in 1986. The first was a passenger plane, and the second two were search and rescue aircraft. There is a plaque at the top of the hike to commemorate the lives that were lost. 

Take Hwy. 40 and head south to the Kananaskis village. The trail head is at the Ribbon Creek Day use area. Since the hike is quite far, we decided to bike the first 4 km to cut down our hiking time. After terrace trail links up with Ribbon Creek trail, continue biking/hiking on ribbon creek trail until you see a small pile of rock on the right side of the trail just as you are about to go around a corner. We thought the trail to memorial lakes would be hard to find, but it was pretty obvious.

Since the 2013 floods washed out large portions of the trail, some might find the next few km hard to navigate. My advice to you is to keep your eyes open for orange ribbon hanging in the trees. These are awesome markers that will keep you on track (there are also small rock piles that occasionally mark the trail). Make sure to keep your eyes open for offshoots on the trail leading to the river as some of these go to awesome waterfalls! This portion of the trail is a continuous climb, with one part that is quite steep. Eventually, the trail flattens out and meanders to the first lake.

 The next part of the hike was the hardest. Quite steep sections on loose rocks and scree make the climb quite strenuous. However, once you reach the second lake (The Emerald) you won’t be disappointed. For some, this is a great spot to turn around and head back. For others, the third lake beckons. We made the trek up to the third lake heading around the backside of Bogart Tower. As we neared the third lake we were a bit disappointed – most of the lake was dried up, leaving two small pools of water. Next time we will go earlier in the summer so that the lake is full. We spent some time at the top, viewing the memorial and taking in the sights. 

Then, we began the trek down. I would recommend going the way you came. We decided to take a more direct route, heading right of the memorial and down through a steep canyon. While it was very steep and a bit jarring on the knees, it was a bit quicker than going back around Bogart Tower. Looking back, I would have preferred to go the way we came, just to take another look at The Emerald. Our bikes were a sight for sore eyes and we enjoyed biking the last four km to the parking lot.  If you don’t have access to a bike, just keep in mind that you will be hiking an extra 3-4 km on the way up and down. 

Overall, this hike was such a nice surprise. We saw one other group on the trail, so it was peaceful and quiet the whole way up. It’s truly amazing to have a whole mountain valley to yourself. 

Happy Trails!  

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Water & Snacks
  • Bear Spray
  • Hiking Poles
  • Layers (rain coat, sweater, etc.)
  • Hat & Sunscreen for sunny days    
  • First Aid Kit 
  • Bike, Helmet, and Bike Lock (if you are biking) 
Show More
RT Distance 9.9 Miles
Elevation Gain 2624.7 Feet
Activities Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Forest
Lake
Waterfall

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