Pickle Jar Lakes


Fourth Pickle Jar Lake

Pickle Jar Lakes

Kananaskis Country

Time: 5 hours

Distance: 8.4 km (return)

Elevation Gain: 450 m

How To Get There: Follow highway 40 going west until you get to Lantern Creek day use area.

Pickle Jar GPS Map

I chose this hike because it had an extra-special meaning to me. My grandma told me that when she was younger she had hiked this trail so I wanted to hike it as well. The trailhead was easy enough to find and once we were parked and packed, we set off. This is a fairly popular hiking trail as there were a couple behind us and ahead of us and it wasn’t even 10:00 am. The weather wasn't great as there were dark grey clouds just on the other side of the mountains threatening to rain on us. But we got lucky and the only thing we really had to deal with was the wind. The first part of the trail leads right beside Lantern Creek and moves gradually up through trees until you come to a mostly bare hill that overlooks the valley.

About 1 km into the trail

After walking along the hill for about 500 m, you then turn west back into more trees. Matt and I were both surprised at how difficult the climb was (maybe we just were a little out of shape that day) as there were only a few moments were the trail flattened off. It was hard to imagine that my grandma had once done this hike!

A boardwalk to get across the marshy part of the trail

The hardest part was definitely at the last 600 m before we got to the lake. You reach a hill/ridge that you have to climb virtually straight up so that you can get to the other side to see the first lake. Once we managed to get up there, we were almost blown back down by the wind! But the view to the west was amazing so we put up with it.

View to the west on the ridge

Next, we managed to make our way across the fallen rocks that lined the ridge and down to the first lake. We walked over to the west side and had a snack there. I took a quick cat nap while Matt tried his luck at fishing. Sadly, there were no bites.

Goin' fishin'
Selfie in front of the first lake

Then I decided that I wanted to see all four lakes before we headed back so we picked our way through the west side of the first lake until we got back on the trail that would lead us to the second lake (it's just not a hike for Matt and I unless we go off-trail at some point). The second lake was basically right beside the first and we only had to climb up a little ways.

Second Lake

We continued on until we reached the third lake (stopping to take a quick picture of the waterfall that connects the second and third lake).

Waterfall in between the second and third lake

The third lake was easily the bluest of the four. Unfortunately, it was also the hardest to get around since it was surrounded by rocks.

Third Lake

It was a bit chilly up there so we quickly made our way around the third lake until we reached a natural damn between the third and fourth lake. After climbing up, we were greeted by the sight of the fourth lake...and even more wind!

Fourth Lake

While trying not to get blown away, we took a few pictures and then started the trek home. On the way back, we ran into a lot more hikers who were still making their way to the lake. A few hikers were nice enough to take a picture of Matt and me facing the west side of the ridge.

Posing on the ridge on the way back home, facing out to the west

Then we started our decent down to the valley. Once we reached the point where we crossed over a small section of Lantern Creek, we stopped for some lunch. We used the stove and I had three cheese pasta while Matt had blueberry granola. It was delicious!

Making some lunch

It was such a neat experience to hike the same trail that my grandma once did and I hope one day I can bring my own children to show them as well!

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