Peter Lougheed Provincial Park (Kananaskis)
Time: 7 hours (including additional hour for being lost)
Distance: 14 km (return)
Elevation Gain: 200 m
How To Get There: Follow along Upper Kananskis Lake (counter-clockwise) from the interlakes trailhead parking lot. Turn left at the Forks/Point Campground fork in the road and then continue past Point Campground for another 1km or so. There should be some sort of cairn or marking indicating the Hidden Lake turn off to the right (ours was marked with a wooden plank but it might not be there anymore).
Kim and I went to the Elkwood Campground to do some camping and we decided to tackle a hidden trail called none other than Hidden Lake. It is not an official trail so it doesn't really have any markings or trailheads to go by. I relied on the internet and heresay to figure out where to go and then we headed off. The weather was a bit windy but overall, it was really nice and the sky was very clear. We walked along Upper Kananskis Lake until we got to a fork in the road. One direction takes you to Forks and the other takes you to Point. We veered off towards Point. Taking this trail immediately takes you across a lot of full rocks and boulders. About twenty minutes later, we crossed over a bridge that travelled over Lower Kananaskis Falls.
After taking some pictures, we continued on until we passed a lineup of cut down trees (with a beautiful mountain backdrop).
It's not too long after this that you reach Point Campgroud. This is where we turned left to continue making our way around Upper Kananaskis Lake. Once we had gone a distance passed Point Backcountry Campground, we began to wonder if we had gone too far and had missed the turn off for Hidden Lake. We ran into several other hikers who seemed to be having the same problem. Shortly after, we realized that the turnoff had been marked with some stones and a wooden plank. It was hard to tell but eventually we spotted some markers on the trees indicating it was in fact the right trail. This part was a bit tricky because it was a straight up climb for the rest of the way until we reached the lake. By the time Kim and I had managed to pick our way through all of the fallen trees and steepness, we were by ourselves again. We finally managed to get up to the lake and were pleasantly surprised to see that it was a lake surrounded by wildflowers with a creek waterfall far off in the distance set in a mountainous backdrop.
Everyone had told me that it wasn't very pretty but I thought it was absolutely lovely. We briefly considered trying our luck and finding the trailhead around the lake that would lead us to Fossil Falls but thought against it. We sat down on a rock and had our lunch, admiring the view.
After about an hour of exploring, we decided to go back the way we had come so we could get back to our campsite in time to roast some weenies! This is when things got a bit complicated. The trail to Hidden Lake from Upper Kananaskis Lake was not easy to see and we ended up going the wrong way (I think we ended up on the trail that would take us to Aster Lake). We realized we were possibly going the wrong way after not recognizing anything about twenty minutes later. It was about 6:30 pm so time was not on our side. We discussed whether we should keep going on the path we were on or turn around and retrace or steps. It is a weird feeling to be so disoriented. Your mind starts playing tricks on you! Finally we turned back and were able to find the trail again after recognizing a piece of ribbon on the ground. We were very relieved! We made pretty decent time though our feet were really tired on the way back. But we got a treat when Kim spotted a really pretty heron (still not sure what kind it was) sitting along the banks.
It was an adventure, that is for sure! But one I wouldn't want to repeat. Next time, I know better than to leave my GPS at home for reasons just like this one. I won't make that mistake again! I think that is one of the reasons I love hiking so much- you are constantly learning your lesson!