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3-5 cm of fresh snow on compact base. Some snow drifts on front side of the ridge. Still manageable with spikes and gaiters. Snow is deeper in spots on the backside heading towards the fire lookout. A couple more dumps of snow and I would expect you’d need snowshoes. Very windy up top but the great views make it all worth it.

Returned via the Raspberry Ridge South and Raspberry Ridge Easy Route Trails. The snow drifts were quite deep and the trail was not at all visible, but was able to get a good bearing and intersected the ascent trail right at the junction which has a marked cairn.

Pretty steep and lots of scree but what an amazing view from the ridge line!! Now that it's more winter recommend bringing spikes, making sure to stay on trail and walking poles for sure!

December 10, 2018.

Rating: I find All Trails is often rating hikes more difficult than they actually are. This is not the case. This is a hard, steep hike, with a lot of elevation gain. There are some switch backs, but a lot is just straight up on bare or loose rock. (Currently dashed in snow)

Route: We took the Grotto Trail Hard Route up, as suggested by research; but then back down that route as well, as it was too windy to feel comfortable on the traverse. However, we got lost on our way up...and our way down. There are so many trails that branch out, you actually need to be constantly checking. And trust me, when I say don’t “bushwhack”, just go back and find the proper trail. I did find the trials hard to follow, probably due to snow coverage and no human tracks. There is flagging tape, which did help tremendously. Thanks to whoever placed those! But overall, hard to follow. And yes. There are times that you are walking alongside the cliffs, but not to the point that I personally find frightful. You can chose to stay further off the cliff side.

Conditions: Being a south facing hike with constant sunshine, there was minimal snow. But, it is still mid December on a mountain...There were sections that there was deep pockets of snow, (like knee height) but for the most part, easy to avoid. Today it was mostly cloudy with no issues in visibility, however it was insanely windy, to the point we just weren’t comfortable doing to loop.

Gear: Poles and spikes were more hindrance than help today. We did initially have our spikes on, but elected to take them off pretty quick. Poles were mostly just being dragged as it was steep and bare rock for the second 2/3 of the hike up.

Time: Reviews are saying 6-7 hours. I mean, yah, I’m sure that’s doable. However, our slow asses too 6 hours up, 5 hours down. Total of approximately 14km and 20,000 steps as per our Fitbit/Apple watch. Keeping in mind we do some adventuring. We did go off the trail and did go down the wrong trails several times. We did also take several breaks to just enjoy where we were. Hiked from before sunrise to after sunset. But the stars were beautiful.

***All and all, beautiful hike. Definitely would recommend. I will absolutely do it again in hopes to find a day with less wind.***

hiking
5 days ago

Beautiful the whole way up. Not too hard. Took me an hour and a half to get to the top.

Great day up Wasootch! Took me 2:10 up and 1:40 down with a steady pace and only a couple of short breaks. Poles are definitely helpful on this trail, bring em along.

Amazing!!! Great place to train! Took us approximately 1-1:10hr fairly easy pace. Amazing in winter!

on Chester Lake Trail

6 days ago

Wide open vistas and well marked. Winter paradise for sure

Nice, easy trail with very gradual elevation gain. You are mostly in the forest until you reach the lake. Good for quick a winter hike. As of Dec 8/18, the trail is hard packed snow - no snowshoes or traction devices needed, though this might change over the next few days as the snow melts and refreezes.

Bring your bear spray. Proper hiking boots and attire make the hike nice. It could be done in regular runners. (I saw a lady hiking in flat shoes - she was not pleased with her shoe choice. The view at Rawson Lake was worth it from what she said!) Lot's of snow.

Completed on December 1. Easy hike with great views. Trail was packed so no need for snowshoes yet.

this is a difficult hike for beginners, but beautiful view on top

snowshoeing
8 days ago

Completed Chester Lake two weeks ago and it was a wonderful trail! Beautiful scenery, good steep sections to warm you up, and very rewarding lake at the end to sit and relax, have some lunch, and watch some of the backcountry skiers.

Completed hike on 2018-12-02. Crampons/Ice Cleats highly recommended. Not really enough snow on this date for snow shoes. Great hike, great views especially the summit with it's 360 degree panorama.

Completed this hike a couple weeks ago, crampons not needed. It’s pretty fantastic at the top with the pearlier feels but most certainly a steep incline that can make you question for a second what you got yourself into. I was sore for a week after this hike! But the experience is worth it, a solid hike!

Very well marked, great views, will do this one again come summer.

on Chester Lake Trail

hiking
11 days ago

Trailhead was well marked with parking. Many different routes you can take (hike, snowshoe, ski...etc.)Took a few beginners up this trail, and didn't seem to have many issues. Views from the top were beautiful. Lots of Gray Jays and they are not shy, they will land on your hands if you let them!

It’s steep as you hike up on a used trail along the side of the mountain and then you come to a clearing of large rocks and boulders. The trail seems to disappear. However it is clear which way to go. You get out of breath as the incline increases but at the top where the “Tea House” is the views of Canmore and the Mountains are spectacular! There is no real Tea House that you can dine at. This is a difficult slow climb and recommend for the seasoned hiker.

hiking
12 days ago

Loved this hike. It was well marked and the scenery is stunning the farther up you go. Will also recommend the Little Bee Hive as well. Path can be done with hikers but recommend crampons and poles pending which route you take down from Lake Agnes.

snowshoeing
12 days ago

Just finished this snowshoe trail and it was pretty good. first 1.5km will get you warmed up and your legs going. After that it is pretty much smooth sailing. The mountains surrounding the area are beautiful but since this is 'winter' the lake area is somewhat anticlimactic. Will enjoy coming back in the summer to do this one again.

The first section is straight uphill and can leave you a bit breathless. After that it evens out totally, and when you get to the lake, the view is absolutely beautiful! Highly recommend!

November 25, 2018
My boyfriend, dog and I did this hike on a Sunday early afternoon and only saw 3 other people. It was a gorgeous day and amazing views at the top! The trail was packed down with snow but some icy spots closer to the top, was easy enough doing it in some hiking boots with little spikes or my bf only had hiking boots.

*All trails and the castle lookout sign say 3.7km one way or 6.4km total however my Fitbit said 5km one way or 10km total so the trail took longer than we thought but was all worth it when we got to the very top! Also, more likely 600m incline too. Definitely would keep this rated as a moderate trail! Our dog loved it as well ;)

hiking
14 days ago

Gorgeous views of Spray Lakes for the majority of the hike! We had to cut the hike short by a couple hundred meters as the snow became too deep. Definitely going to add this one to the list to do again in the summer!

hiking
15 days ago

Great easy hike to take your dog!

hiking
16 days ago

We hiked to Arnica Lake today. The trail was hard packed snow covered the whole way. Great trail with a lot of great views along the way.

It’s a great hike. Steep climb all the way up. Always busy though. Nice to relax at the tea house. Lake Agnes is beautiful, with stunning views.

hiking
18 days ago

Went in the middle of October this year and it was pretty snowy and a little slick in some areas so I would definitely recommend crampons. My friend and I went during the week with my dog. We only saw 3 other people and we enjoyed the quiet, and the view. It took us about 3 hours total.

hiking
18 days ago

We did this hike on November 24th. it was snowy and breathtakingly beautiful. The trail itself was was moderate in my books. The lake at the end was gorgeous. I look forward to doing this hike again in the spring or summer.

This is an amazing hike in Banff , just by the Gondola and Hot Springs facilities.
It is a easy-moderate hike (a bit long and steep for beginners, but still easily doable).
1,5 - 2 hours hike with beautiful sightseeing and amazing views from the top.
In the winter, they have free Gondola trip (only the coming down trip) if you get there before it closes.
I think it is also free in summer after 7.00 pm
Parking facilities are good either in the Gondola parking lot or Hot Springs one. Very rewarding if you end up your experience in a relaxing bath at the Hot Springs next door.

Very challenging and rewarding hike. We wore micro spikes and used poles for the snow and ice- very glad we did!
Pretty cold and windy at the top for this time of year , we only made it to the helicopter pad and back. Took almost 4.5 hours.
Legs are sore today !
Will definitely do this trail again - hoping to reach the summit in the spring/summer.

Nov 25, 2018. I hiked up to the rock chute today. The trail was snow covered with a few icy patches. I was able to make it to the chute without any spikes. I wore my Microspikes on the way down which was helpful. Overall the trail was in very good shape.

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