Turbine Canyon – Backpacking

  • Distance to Turbine Canyon Campground – 18.15 km
  • Elevation Gain – 575 metres

Like usual, we never got around to planning this years backpacking trip until a couple of days before we decided to go. The great thing about procrastinating is that we didn’t really have much choice where to go (I think we literally got the last open back-country site in all of Kananaskis Country). Because of this we ended up at the Turbine Canyon Backcountry campsite, which none of us had ever heard of before, and probably given the choice would never have chosen to go to. Looking at the details of the hike I was a bit hesitant, it was longer and had more of a climb in elevation that I was sure I would be up to, especially considering I hadn’t done any real hiking yet this summer.

The trail to the campground start out at the interlakes parking lot on the north side of Upper Kananaskis Lake. We headed west on the lake shore trail through the forest, taking the high road when the trail forks (if you take the low trail you’ll have to backtrack when the two meet back up to get to the trail that heads up the valley and away from the lake). I’ve done this portion of the hike on multiple occasions and while a nice hike through the forest with some great views of the lake, it can get pretty busy in the summer.

After leaving the lake trail, the path heads up the valley staying mostly flat and forested, crossing over a couple of bridges and waterfalls, along the base of a field of scree, then follows along the path of the river. Eventually the forest opens up a little bit and crosses over three or four small bridges over some scenic streams, and into the Forks campground (about 6.7 km from the parking lot). It was also here that the trail signs showing distance from the Forks to Turbine Canyon change from 7.3km (at the start of the hike), to 9.3km….. Thanks people! (according to the parks description its 15.1km to Turbine Campground, but we clocked it at 18.15km).

We stopped at the forks for lunch and said goodbye to a couple of friends who had joined us for a bit of a day hike. We also ran into a conservation officer who checked our reservations, and was in the process of kicking out a group of campers at the Forks who hadn’t booked a site.

After the Forks the trail starts to climb up away from the river, eventually coming out of the forest onto a open mountainside where it climbs in long switchbacks up the side of the mountain. This part was pretty slow going, out in the open with the hot sun beating down the constant uphill we pretty painful. Eventually we could see the trail climb over a ridge and back into forest and were happy to be done with the climb. But we were wrong, and the trail just kept going up in a relentless climb getting even steeper once we entered the forest.

On more than one occasion we thought we had made it to the top but were quickly proven wrong again. The trail just kept going up and up and up. There was a flat area where it crossed over a bridge and followed along a nice little stream on the edge of a meadow, and then it went up again. There was a steep open downhill through a meadow with an unnamed pond (and amazing view), and then it went up again.

By the time we made it to the shores of Lawson Lake my quads had turned from Jello to concrete  and kept cramping up (looking back I think much of the fault was dehydration, as we were all out of water by this point, and probably hadn’t drank enough for such a long, hot, exhausting hike to start with).  Lawson Lake was quite big and beautiful, but apparently there’s no fish in it, and we were anxious to get to camp so we didn’t stop.

We finally made it to the campground, and after a couple of litres of water from the stream that runs along the edge of the camp, where able to set up camp, eat some dinner, and relax.

And by relax I mean sit around swatting mosquitoes and horseflies…

As relentless as the uphill climb to the camp was, it paled in comparison to the constant never-ending irritation of the insects. They were there the entire weekend biting and buzzing and driving everyone at the camp crazy. We didn’t sit down for more than a couple of minutes at a time all weekend (except maybe after the sun went down when they lessened to a tolerable level). Lunches where eaten while pacing circles around the camp, and Long-Johns and hoodies and even rain gear were worn all weekend despite the fact that there were no clouds in the sky and temperatures were in the high twenties.

The hike out was nice and easy and mostly uneventful, with lighter packs and long downhill stretches, we did it in about half the time as the way in.

Between the irritation of the insects, and the lack of a fire, the camping was pretty dull, but the hiking in and out and short day trips we did made for a fantastic weekend. And I would recommend the trip to anyone, it’s well worth the effort of getting there. I’m glad our poor planning led us to find it.

  • Pictures are in reverse order and it really is way too much effort to reload them in the proper order.
  • The map shows the hike in as well as the hikes we did on Sunday up to Haig Glacier and Maude Lake.
  • Post about Haig Glacier – http://photoboom.ca/wp/?p=4212
  • Post about Maude Lake – Coming Soon!

Upper Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Upper Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Forks campground on the way back

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Heading back down the mountain side

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Lawson Lake

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Lawson Lake

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Lawson Lake

Chris jumping over Turbine Canyon… You can’t tell from the photo, but under that 3 foot hop the canyon drops down about 500 metres to certain death.

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Turbine Canyon

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Turbine Canyon

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Lawson Lake

Hiking views Kananaskis Lakes area Peter Lougheed Provincal Park – Lawson Lake

Lawson Lake in the distance

Hiking through the meadow

Unnamed pond in an open meadow.

Hiking up the open mountain side.

Path over a rock-slide at the rivers edge.

Taking a break.

Start of the hike, leaving the shores of Upper Kananaskis Lake

 

Name: Upper Kananaskis Lake to Turbine Canyon Campground
Activity type: hiking
Description: Aug. 4, 2012 Hiking with Chris and Brandon from upper kananaskis lake to turbine canyon campground.
Total distance: 18.15 km (11.3 mi)
Total time: 6:57:48
Moving time: 3:55:33
Average speed: 2.61 km/h (1.6 mi/h)
Average moving speed: 4.62 km/h (2.9 mi/h)
Max speed: 11.12 km/h (6.9 mi/h)
Average pace: 23.02 min/km (37.0 min/mi)
Average moving pace: 12.98 min/km (20.9 min/mi)
Fastest pace: 5.40 min/km (8.7 min/mi)
Max elevation: 2263 m (7426 ft)
Min elevation: 1688 m (5538 ft)
Elevation gain: 4562 m (14969 ft)
Max grade: 5 %
Min grade: -23 %
Recorded: 8/4/2012 11:52


View Backcountry Camping at Turbine Canyon Campground in a larger map

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