The short but steep Elbow Lake Trail follows a wide, old gravel road to a stunning mountain lake in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. The family-friendly hike is open from June 15th, to November 30th.

Elbow Lake

Insider Tip

Elbow Lake is a popular spot for families to enjoy their first backcountry camping trip. If you want to backcountry camp, then make sure you book the campsite well in advance.

Closed: December 1st-June 14th
Difficulty: Challenging
Distance: 3 km (1.8 mi) out and back
Elevation: 153 m (502 ft)
Hike Highlights: Mountain Views, Lake,
Facilities: Outhouse, Bench, Backcountry Camping
Optional Gear: Carrier, All-Terrain Stroller*, Bikes,
TrailRider Rating: Challenging

Getting There

From the Trans Canada Highway AB-1 W take the 118 exit and turn onto Kananaskis Trail Highway AB-40 S towards Kananaskis. Follow the Kananaskis Trail Highway AB-40 S for 62 km. Turn left into the Elbow Pass Day Use Area.


The trail starts near the entrance into the Elbow Pass Day Use Area parking lot. There is a sign indicating the trailhead near the outhouse.

Trail Experience

Elbow Lake trail immediately begins climbing up a large, wide service road. Follow the wide trail up through the trees. The occasional large rocks that scatter the trail may cause uneven footing. The trail is shared with horses and bikes. This means that there could be some fast-moving bikes coming down the mountain and that there is horse poop on the trail.

Be careful not to step in any of the poop!

Elbow Lake

After climbing for a short distance, the trail levels out to offer a short reprieve. Enjoy the rocky garden and brief mountain views.

Soon the trail begins to climb again in the trees and eventually you will reach a bench to sit and have a break.

Go up along the trail as it curves around the other side of the mountain. The trail levels out again and is scattered with large rocks. The views on either side of the trail are stunning.

Head back into the trees for more elevation. Soon the trail levels out once more just before heading down to the lake.

Return the way you came or enjoy the lake and explore the trail around the lake.
*The trail is all-terrain stroller friendly, but a strong stroller brake is highly recommended to safely manage to ascend and descend.

Nearby Attractions

On the way home, stop at the Peter Lougheed Discovery Centre to learn more about the flora and fauna in the area. Alternatively, drive a little further north down Kananaskis Trail Highway 40 S to enjoy lunch or dinner alongside Wedge Pond.

Want more hikes like this one?

PRE-ORDER the paperback book Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.

Purchase (Ebook) Hikes for Families: A Guide to the Canadian Rockies here.

Hikes for Families
annika mang
By Annika Mang
Elbow Lake Trail
Elbow Lake Trail
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