Chester Lake

Probably one of the most popular hikes in Alberta, Chester Lake it located on the Smith Dorian Trail  in Kananaskis Country. In the summer you can expect to see plenty of hikers. It's popularity is due to being a moderate hike that can be done with kids, oh and the views are amazing. However, it's just not the hikers that enjoy this hike. It is not uncommon to have this area closed to grizzly bear activity.   

This  can also  be enjoyed during the winter as a snowshoe trip. The winter trail differs from the summer hiking trail. From what I understand the snowshoe trail is a bit steeper of a climb. The summer trail is used for cross country skiing in the winter. 

We did this hike mid December on a Sunday after about a 6" snowfall. We pretty much had the place to ourselves as the start time temperature of the hike was -19 ºC. (-3 ºF).    

I hope you enjoy the images!

Parking Lot Views

If the view from the parking lot was any indication, this was going to be an amazing day. Not many can compare to this. 


There really is a trail there!


As we emerged out of the trees, this was the "Holy Crap" moment. The valley that was ahead  energized us and long forgotten was the recent uphill grind we just completed. Mt. Chester on the right Mt. Galatea on the left. Chester Lake straight ahead. 

Mt Galatea

The sky was so clear the ridge on the mountains were so sharp. The clouds moving by were casting amazing shadows. 


How can you not take a panorama shot!

Click image for a larger view.

Chester Lake is there somewhere

Not much of a lake at this time of year as there is probably 18" of ice and another couple feet of snow on top. The mountain in the back is called Gusty Peak It was a great place to stop for lunch. However at -19 ºC. it didn't take long for your extremities to get very cold. 

Elephant Rocks

Once you get to Chester Lake you can continue to the left. About 1/2 way to the end of the lake a path ends to the left again. A short climb brings you to the Elephant Rocks. The piles of boulders are from a rock slide that happen deposited them here. The fresh snow covering the boulders resembles the texture of marshmallows. Mt Chester on the right, Gusty Peak on the left. 

Hiking Buddy's

It may not look like it, but Cubby was in his element the whole time, decked out in his Muttluks dog boots. The look of displeasure is more because he wasn't leading the way at the moment. 

Unknown Peak

The contrast from the snow, trees and mountains was impressive. Unknown because I  can't remember where I was when I took this image.

Fresh, Untouched

That texture in the snow is unlike anything I've ever seen 


This image really gives perspective on the size of the mountains and the valley. My hiking partner Matt had no idea I  was sneaking a picture of him as he was admiring the view. 

Return Trip 

The way back down did not disappoint either. Mt Birdwell in the distance on the other side of the Smith Dorien Trail 

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Summary of our trip 

Distance -         8.8 km - 5.47 miles

Total Time-      3 hrs 53 min

Moving Time-  2 hrs 23 min

Elevation gain- 457 m - 1499 ft


Thanks for the data map Matt

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