#3 of 50 provincial parks in Alberta

Best bird watching trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada

5,440 Reviews
Explore the most popular bird watching trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.
Map of bird watching trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta, Canada
Park information
Acreage:
75,120 acres
Contact
403-678-0760
Top trails (42)
#1 - Ptarmigan Cirque
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1159)
Length: 2.2 mi • Est. 52 m
The Ptarmigan Cirque begins from the same trailhead as Pocaterra Cirque so this is a popular trail that users can double-up if feeling particularly energized. Otherwise, this route is a short but difficult four kilometre loop. The trail starts off on a wide path and then crosses the highway. It begins following along steep switchbacks through the forest for about one kilometre, which is known to be the most difficult section. After this first challenge, it opens to mountain and valley views with larches in the distance. Users aren’t really among the larches on this trail so it’s not as rewarding as Pocaterra for that aspect. ⁣ The trail continued to gain steady elevation and travels through an open and rocky terrain with amazing views and there were lovely meadows and wildflowers along the trail. It follows along a narrow ridge to form the loop and then begins heading downhill. It is normally super windy and cold at the top, so wearing layers in summer is a great way to stay properly covered all the time ⁣ ⁣ This is a very busy trail overall, since aside from the first kilometre, there is such little effort required for stunning views. The short distance and incredible views make a great quick hike good for young children, families, or new hikers. Users will likely see lots of wildlife (squirrels, chipmunks, bighorn sheep) with nice small waterfalls and great scenery. This is a fragile alpine area and people should respect that and stay on the trail. It is also advisable to carry bear spray, since this area is known to have a few. Users should also be aware that the highway leading up to the hike may be closed between December and June if winter weather conditions are terrible, since this trail is considered backcountry and avalanche hazard exists. Show more
#2 - Rawson Lake and Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(1066)
Length: 5.4 mi • Est. 3 h 11 m
PROTECTIVE CLOSURE: This area is subject to closure due to habitat protection of sensitive Bear rehabilitation. For more information, please visit: https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/peter-lougheed-pp/advisories/ The Rawson Lake and Upper Kananaskis Trail is a very well-marked but extremely busy route, which is best completed in summer. This route follows a majestic mossy green forest trail that has a decent amount of incline, enough of an ascent to get hearts pumping if users are going at a brisk pace. Thankfully, the fairly short distance to the lake is a nice treat when compared to many hiking trails out in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Throughout this route during the warm months, summer day-hiking conditions are normally present until about half way up, then the trail becomes very muddy, slightly icy, and there can be patches of snow. Rawson Lake is known to have some ice on it in cool summer mornings, and the heavy foot traffic can make the higher routes very muddy. If attempting this hike in the morning, users will find that there are not many other hikers going up, but on the way down it can be insanely busy as families start. In summer, users should be able to use this trail with running shoes or boots. The route is also nice in winter, but snowshoes or crampons are a better way to complete this trail then. After the incline, users will absolutely love the lake and mountain backdrop, especially in the sunlight when the sun hits the mountains perfectly - this is the best view users have seen as far as mountain lakes go in the area, including Lake Louise. Additionally, this is a great trail to spot local wildlife such as Eagles, which are known to be screeching during the day. At times, the area may be closed to keep users safe from bear activity, too. Users can also continue around the left side of the lake - which is a longer trek than it looks - to Sarrail Ridge, which is more challenging, very steep and scrambly. Just going around the back of the lake is very nice and looks rather like Swiss Alps landscape. The waterfall is awesome, too.Show more
#3 - Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(513)
Length: 9.5 mi • Est. 4 h 50 m
PROTECTIVE CLOSURE: This area is subject to closure due to habitat protection of bears during the summer season. For more information, please visit: https://www.albertaparks.ca/parks/kananaskis/peter-lougheed-pp/advisories/ The Upper Kananaskis Lake Trail is a scenic, adventurous, and exciting day hike for any user - including families! This route follows the recommended counter-clockwise direction as it takes users through the most scenic part during the first four kilometres, so families can turn around from the Interlakes, which is the rockiest part of this trail instead of the full loop. Once crossed the Interlakes and users proceed further, it is best to complete the loop since it gets much easier past the small rockpile area. After crossing the stream on a wooden bridge, most of the last 6 kilometres of the trail is under a thick cover of overgrown forest, which is a great treat if the weather is poor or the sun is too hot. During winter, this section of trail can be snowy and slushy as it is close to water, so coming prepared with proper footwear is a good idea. This is the area that is prime Grizzly habitat, so it is common that users encounter large predators here - and should make lots of noise to bring bear bells, whistles, spray, and more. Moose are also commonly seen here, and they are less agitated by human activity in the area, so proceed with caution around them. This trail is by no means very technical or challenging, but this trail has a bit of everything. Users commonly suggest that this is one of the most scenic hikes outside of the nearby national parks in any season, thanks to the waterfalls, a landslide rock garden, beautiful lakes, and so much more. Most of the elevation gain is within the first three kilometres before going down the rocky avalanche areas, which can be super hot and without shade in summer, and this part of the area is a quiet trail. Users also have plenty of areas to take breaks, like at the multiple campground areas in the peninsula. It got noisier and busier when getting closer to the start point of Rawson Lake, since this is where the rocky beach and stunning views of the lake and mountains are. Past the metal bridge connecting the trail separated by the torrential waterfall and closer to the starting point of the short version trail, the first parking lot, another option for users to park at. In this area, users can continue and walk on the picturesque 1.5 kilometre dam road past the parking lot and back into the trail along the lake in the woods again for even more of a challenge!Show more
#4 - Burstall Pass Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(485)
Length: 10.2 mi • Est. 5 h 7 m
The Burstall Pass Trail begins on a wide, gently-sloped former logging road that takes users past the famous and beautiful Burstall lakes. After the lakes the trail becomes narrow with more roots and then you trek through the open meadow in The Valley, crossing multiple creeks. The signs are easy to follow, with pictures of green signs with a hiker and red/orange marker above the sign to the opening of the next trail. This is where the incline starts until again it opens up to a flat meadow with wildflowers for a short time. Eventually users are back in the trees with a continuous incline until reaching the viewpoint where users can see bird wood, sir Douglas and everything in between. Take the small side path to go down to see the view, which is highly worth it. The trail gets a bit more technical in the middle, but not really difficult. There’s some moderate climbing in places and users often find a few sections a little tricky, but very manageable. The meander across the marshy flats between the mountains was fun, but users often report that summer is the best time to be here due to winter and fall being a wet time to cross some of the meadows and creeks. The final section of the trail up from the far side of the flats has some steepish points, but the views are oh so worth it with mountain views in every direction and stunning fall colors! Since the trail crosses several creeks, sandals are recommended for creek-crossings if visiting between June and July. During the fall, the larches are on full display as they turn bright yellow. The view at the pass offers a beautiful look at the surrounding forest, and views of Banff National Park. Users should also review these important Winter Conditions: The trail past the lakes/opening travels through AVALANCHE TERRAIN. Do not venture up the headwall to the pass unless users 1. Have the Gear (beacon, probe, shovel), 2. Training (Avalanche Course), 3. Practice (there is a beacon pit at the trailhead), 4. Forecast (Avalanche Report)Show more
#5 - South Lawson Peak
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(451)
Length: 5.5 mi • Est. 3 h 55 m
#6 - Pocaterra Cirque
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
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Length: 4.3 mi • Est. 2 h 41 m
The trail starts on a wide path and then branches off to the left through an open area before entering the forest. It continues through the forest for the first 2 km. There are many branched trails that eventually converge, which can be a little confusing as there are no signs. ⁣ After the first 2 km, the trail opens up to expansive views of the surrounding mountains and forests of larch trees! There are consistently amazing views for the rest of the hike. The trail gains steady elevation but is mostly gradual and leveled out in between, with some steeper sections. It passes through beautiful larch forests and by a pretty lake with gorgeous reflections from the trees on the water. At the junction, the trail to the cirque continues to the left. It is a steep uphill climb from here until the end, leading above the trees and across an exposed rocky terrain. The trail ends at a ridge with gorgeous views overlooking the mountains and valleys. The trail continues back down along the same way.Show more
#7 - Headwall Lakes Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(111)
Length: 9.9 mi • Est. 5 h
The Headwall Lakes Trail starts at the Chester Lake trailhead, and users will want to know that it is actually not marked for the Headwall Lakes trail - so be sure to follow this offline map at first if confused. The trails are a favourite for local hikers, who enjoy the nice and wide trails that vehicles sometimes frequent. The trail starts out relatively flat, but there is a large arrow made of rocks, a cairn, and a trail cam, and this is the placeholder that begins the mild ascent to the lakes. A majority of the time is spent in the forest, so views are few and far between for the first sections of this route. Be careful to not miss the turn off for the trail, which is found just after the big built bridge a couple kilometres in, there’s a small trail perpendicular to the wide main trail that users need to take. There was a big arrow made of sticks on the wide trail pointing to the correct trail for headwall lakes, but during the snowier days this can be missed. The trail then continues to be pretty flat for the most part until reaching the last part before the lakes. As users reach the final approach, there’s a beautiful waterfall on the climbers left. Eventually, users will pop out at a boulder field. From here, users can go in and out of small forests and boulder fields, until they make your final ascent to the first lake. Cairns mark the trail all along this section, so minimal route finding is required except in winter. Users also enjoy the first lake the most, so if folks are tired, this could be a good turn around point instead of making the full trek. Make sure to take in the view from behind you before heading down to the lake. The second lake is not as peaceful. But the little waterfall at the end is pretty cool as an end point instead. Once above the second lake there is a stream and lots of springs in the ground. The ground is soft and it’s a really neat spot. During the winter hiking season, users will find a decent amount of snow on and around the trail. The beginning of the trail system has washed out over the last couple of years thanks to quick winter melts and heavy rain, so be prepared for a rocky trail. There are some really nice spots along the creek. The boulder fields are very cool as well. The second small patch of trees has some steep spots but they were fairly fun to climb as there’s some rocks to climb up, but be prepared for a challenge if users do not have the proper equipment. Show more
#8 - Hogarth Lakes Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
easyYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(141)
Length: 2.6 mi • Est. 1 h 17 m
#9 - Northover Ridge Loop Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
hardYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow Star(78)
Length: 20.6 mi • Est. Multi-day
Northover Ridge is a long loop trail that should not be attempted by anyone who is less than an experienced hiker. There are some who will day-hike this in a very long, strenuous day, and others who take 3-5 days stopping at the backcountry campsites. Portions of the trail are unmaintained, requiring crawling under and over dead fall, short scrambles, loose scree, etc. If the weather cooperates, the views are amazing though, more than worth the effort if you are fit enough.Show more
#10 - Elk Pass and Frozen Lake Trail
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
moderateYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarYellow StarGray Star(111)
Length: 8.6 mi • Est. 5 h 23 m
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