Elbow Lake/ Elbow Pass
Time: 4 hours
Distance: 18 km (return from Tombstone Campground)
Elevation Gain: 200 m
How To Get There: From Hwy 1, turn off the Hwy 40 exit and head south for 61.8 km. Hang a left (east) into the Elbow Pass Day Use Area.
Kim and I were camping at Elkwood Campground which is right beside the lower Kananaskis Lake. It was a bit of a rainy, cloudy day so we decided to go for a hike in the area. We drove around and spotted the turn off for Elbow Lake. We had no idea how long or how steep the trail would be. The parking lot was already quite full and it didn't take us long to realize this was a very popular hike.
A lot of people had big backpacks on and once we climbed the short trail to the lake (there were switchbacks along the way that took us through a lot of pine trees and a small meadow), we realized it was because there is a back country camping spot right along the lakes.
It had only taken us a short 3km to get to the lake so we decided to veer off west and follow the trail to see where it led us. We didn't know what trail we were on but upon looking it up later, we realized it was Elbow Pass Trail. We had to pick our way across the Elbow River (more of a small stream at this point) and maneuver through a marshy area before getting back on the trail. This was a relatively easy hike along a rocky path that takes you through the pass. The small shrubbery and the rocky sided mountains on either side for some reason made Kim and I feel like we were hiking in Alaska.
There was something very tranquil and peaceful about the area as we walked alongside the Elbow River, enjoying the quiet along the way. Most of the hikers had stopped at the lake, so aside from a few hikers; it was just the two of us. We stopped for a couple of nice shots along the river before running into a few hikers who told us about a small side trail that leads to a waterfall.
Sure enough, when we followed the trail we got a glimpse of Edworthy Falls, which was very beautiful. This is where we chose to stop and eat our lunch.
When we continued on, the trail went up and down a few hills and the path began to widen. We passed a few horseback riders and then reached a fork in the road. We ventured off to the left for a little bit, which took us down a hill and then looped back across the creek. The bridge itself had been badly damaged from the 2013 flood but we still managed to climb across and check out our surroundings. It was here that we realized that we had reached yet another backcountry site (Tombstone). The trail map nearby was a bit worn out!
This was when we decided to head back, as we were starting to get hungry! The weather held up the whole time and we only had to deal with a cloudy sky. The trail didn't really offer any nice views or challenging hills, but there was still something about it that was absolutely beautiful and unique. Definitely a great hike for beginner backpackers and hikers alike!