Backpacking to The Point Campground, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

by - Wednesday, July 01, 2015

If I had to choose one word to describe last weekend's backpacking trip, it would be "iconic." No matter that it was unseasonably hot (34 C / 93 F) and we stunk; we were camped next to a sparkling lake with panoramic mountain and glacier views. Loons laughed on the lake, fingerlings darted around my feet, and a bald eagle soared overhead as I reeled in a beautiful bull trout (the official fish of Alberta). This is backpacking in the Canadian Rockies at its best, and it is beginner friendly!

Fishing spot / canoe launch near the Point Campground
Where were we, you ask? Deep in the wilderness, miles from civilization? We were at The Point Backcountry Campground in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, a mere 3.4 km from North Interlakes Day Use Area.
Even the trailhead (North Interlakes Day Use) is pretty!
Situated on a point that extends into Upper Kananaskis Lake, the campground has well appointed, extremely private sites (we couldn't even see our neighbors although the campground was full!). Each site had a tent pad, picnic table and fire ring, and there were bearproof food lockers, pit toilets and firewood bins (free firewood!) throughout the campground. Since most backcountry campgrounds have designated cooking areas do not allow fires, it was a treat to cook at our own site and roast marshmallows at night!

The Point Backcountry Campground - forest site
The Point is an excellent destination for first time backpackers or families for several reasons:
  • Short hike-in distance of 3.4 km on a fairly easy trail - After 0.8 km you will come to a junction. If you are in a hurry, stay on the flatter, upper trail. If it is a very hot day, take the lower trail from the junction - it is rolling, but provides more shade and a couple opportunities to access the beach (for a dunk or water refill). The distance is the same whichever trail you choose. When you reach the turnoff to the campground, there will be a steep downhill section of about 200 metres. Note that this section is not stroller friendly. The trail levels off shortly and returns to the trees, and then you are at campground. Adults can do the hike in about 45 minutes; allow 1-2 hours if hiking with children.
  • Fire pits and firewood - There is an ax at the firewood bin, so you do not need to bring one.
  • Picnic tables - You may cook at your site, but put all food and attractants (dishes, cookware, sunscreen, toiletries) in the bear locker when you are not at your site.
  • Bear lockers - No need to make your own bear cache! Put all food, cookware and attractants in a stuff sack or dry bag before putting it in the locker. I recommend a dry bag (thick, waterproof bag) so mice don't get at your food. 
  • Ample water and easy water access - Get water from the lake. Be sure to bring a water purifier or filter, or boil your water.
  • Boat access - If you prefer to paddle in, there is a small bay where you can pull in.
  • Scenery - Usually you need to work a little for great views and no crowds, but this gem is easy to access on foot or by boat.
Descending to the Point from the Upper trail
Getting closer to the campground!

Things to Do

Cooling off in the Upper Kananaskis River
  • Bird Watching: We saw loons, an American Bald Eagle, whiskeyjacks (aka Gray Jays), a pheasant, and wood ducks. Try a birding app to identify birds and "talk" to them. I posted a tutorial on how to use Merlin Bird ID here.
  • Fishing: I caught (and released) a beautiful bull trout on a Mepps Black Fury with dressed hook near the campground. There were schools of fingerlings near shore that liked the lure too. I've heard that silver and gold Kastmasters and Krocodile spoons also work well. The bottom is rocky and there are many stumps near shore, but the water is very clear, so watch where you cast and you won't lose any lures. 
    • Note that ALL bull trout must be released and at time of writing, rainbow and cutthroat trout may only be kept if longer than 50 cm. 
    • Please confirm the Alberta Fishing Regulations and be sure to carry a valid fishing license and WIN card. 
  • Hiking: There are some amazing hikes in the area - Rawson Lake, Aster Lake, Northover Ridge - but they are too long for a four year old, so we hiked to Upper Kananaskis Falls instead. For more mature hikers, I highly recommend Rawson Lake and Rawson Ridge! 
    • We also did Lyautey Trail - on a hiker's recommendation - but had to ford two creeks, climb over deadfall, and avoid bears (we came across a couple piles of bear scat on the trail). We later learned that the trail was decommissioned several years ago. Stay off of this trail!
  • Lake time: Relaxing, wading, splashing. We cooked and dined by the lake our second night so we could make the most of our time there. So lovely!
  • Paddling: To hear how fun it is to paddle in to the Point, read my friend Tanya's post here.
My first Bull Trout! (catch & release)
Hiking the Three Isle Lake Trail 
Climbing the Big Rock near the campground
Chilling out by the lake

Tips for a Great Trip
  • Book early to get a spot! It is an extremely popular campground.
  • Bring a roasting stick and s'mores ingredients.
  • Pack water guns and swimsuits in the summer so you can cool off.
  • Remember your fishing rod. Lots of trout in the lake! 
  • A collapsible bucket or water container for drinking / dishwashing water is helpful as many sites are not right on the lake. (Remember to pour dirty dishwater in the outhouse.)
  • Hike out mid-week or early in the day to get a lakeside spot. Site 20 is the rockstar site.
  • If it is extremely windy, do not take a lakeside spot. The forested sites will provide more shelter.
  • Obey trail closures. Mount Indefatigable and Lyautey Trail are closed due to grizzlies in the area.
Upper Kananaskis Lake
Splish splash!
Heading back to the car on the lower trail
The Point is a fantastic backcountry campground for newbies and families alike. With its beautiful location, short hike in, and frontcountry amenities (fire pits and picnic tables), it makes for an easy transition to backpacking. Give it a visit and let me know how your trip went!

For More Information

Alberta Parks - Point Backcountry Campground

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  1. Thank you for a great post! My family is planning our first backcountry camping trip this summer, and The Point is definitely a front runner. Having never been there myself, it's great to get a sense of what to expect!

  2. The Point is a fantastic first choice! Elbow Lake is also a good one!


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