Home Destinations Camping and Hiking in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Camping and Hiking in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

by Karen Ung

Where to hike and camp in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park is a premiere camping destination in the Canadian Rockies with several campgrounds to choose. Whether you seek a power site, unserviced site, walk-in campsite, or backcountry site, you’ll find it in this part of Kananaskis.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Campgrounds: Overview

For amenities – including showers, power and water hookups,  and amphitheatre programs – stay at Boulton Creek or Elkwood. They are equally good, but Elkwood has a playground and Boulton has a camping store and restaurant. Bring bikes so you can enjoy the services both campgrounds have to offer! It’s easy to get around on the paved bike path between campgrounds and you can even access lakeside picnic areas and hiking trails from the bike path!

For beautiful lakeside camping, stay at Interlakes, but be prepared to stay elsewhere if Interlakes is full (it usually is). For lake access, Lower Lake and Canyon have sites that are walking distance to Lower Kananaskis Lake. Interlakes and Canyon have boat launches.

Mount Sarrail Walk-In Campground has walk-in sites conveniently located between Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes. No lakeside sites or lakeviews here, but it’s a short bike ride or walk to numerous trailheads and picnic areas. More options in: Walk-in Campgrounds Near Calgary.

Elbow Lake and The Point are two great Backcountry Campgrounds Near Calgary in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park that are popular with families. For a longer hike, try camping at Forks or Three Isle Lake.

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park Campgrounds: Amenities & Things to Do

1. Boulton Creek Campground (Reservable)

boulton-creek-campground-peter-lougheed-provincial-park
Boulton Creek Campsite, Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Boulton Creek is a large campground with spacious, forested sites offering shade and privacy. If you’ve forgotten anything, find it at Boulton Creek Trading Post. They also have an ice cream shop and equipment rentals.

Amenities

  • amphitheater
  • concession
  • water – tap
  • electric
  • water hookup
  • firepits
  • firewood available for purchase
  • flush toilets and pit toilets
  • showers (closest to Loop B)
  • pay phone
  • wheelchair accessible sites
  • sewage disposal

Recommended Activities

  • Hike Boulton Creek trail (4.9 km loop)
  • Bike to Lower Kananaskis Lake
  • Get an ice cream at Boulton Creek Trading Post
  • Attend a program at the amphitheatre
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

2. Canyon Campground (FCFS)

Bill-Benson-Lookout-Lower-Kananaskis-Lake
Bill Benson Lookout, a short bike ride from Canyon Campground

Canyon Campground has 50 unserviced first come-first served sites, some shaded and some in the open. Hike the Canyon Interpretive Trail (currently closed for construction – will hopefully re-open in summer) from camp or make your way down to the lake for some splashy fun!

Amenities

  • unserviced sites
  • water – tap
  • boat launch
  • firepits
  • firewood available for purchase
  • pit toilets
  • pay phone
  • playground (near site B19)
  • sewage disposal
  • no showers
  • secure food storage available for cyclists

Recommended Activities

  • Hike Lower Lake Trail (3.5 km one way) to the lookout at the end of Bill Benson Trail. The trail is well shaded and offers good views of the lake!
  • Hike Canyon Interpretive Trail (800 m).* (Note: Canyon Interpretive Trail is closed until further notice).
  • Paddling, Fishing
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

3. Elkwood Campground (Reservable)

Elkwood is a large campground with spacious, forested sites offering shade and privacy. Bike or hike from the campground; the bike trail has beautiful views!



Amenities

  • amphitheater (between loops A & B)
  • playground (near site B30)
  • water – tap
  • electric
  • water hookup
  • fire pits
  • firewood available for purchase
  • flush toilets and pit toilets
  • showers (shower buildings located between loops A & B and C & D)
  • pay phone

Recommended Activities

  • Ride your bike to Boulton Creek Campground for ice cream!
  • Bike to William Watson Lodge and walk down to the lookout at the end of Bill Benson Trail.
  • Hike the wheelchair accessible hiking trail to Marl Lake (3.3 km loop).
  • Attend a musical theatre performance at the amphitheatre.
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

4. Interlakes Campground (FCFS)

Peter-Lougheed-Paved-Trail
Peter Lougheed Paved Trail

Camp on the shore of Lower Kananaskis Lake and listen to loons while you go for an evening paddle. These desirable sites are non-reservable, so if you want one, head out mid-week and have a backup plan. Sites are shaded by tall trees.

Amenities

  • 48 unserviced sites
  • fire pits
  • firewood available for purchase
  • water – pump
  • boat launch
  • no showers

Recommended Activities

  • Hike the Canadian Mount Everest Expedition Trail (2.2 km loop)
  • Paddling, fishing, biking, hiking
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

5. Lower Lake Campground (FCFS)

paddling-lower-kananaskis-lake
Paddling at Lower Kananaskis Lake

Lower Lake Campground has unserviced first come-first serve sites near the water. Loops B & C are closest to the lake. Loop A is about 800 metres from the lake.

Amenities

  • unserviced sites (Please note that the Lower Lake Walk-In sites are closed due to flood damage.)
  • playground (between Loops A, B & C)
  • water – pump and water tap
  • firepits
  • firewood available for purchase
  • pay phone
  • no showers

Recommended Activities

  • Bike the Peter Lougheed Bike Path to Boulton Creek Trading Post
  • Hike the Lower Kananaskis Trail or Lower Kananaskis Interpretive Trail
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

6. Mount Sarrail Walk-In Tent Campground (FCFS)

No lake view, but the campground is conveniently located near Lower and Upper Kananaskis Lakes. All sites are walk-in sites. Bearproof food storage lockers are for cyclists, so please store food in your vehicle.

Amenities

  • 44 unserviced, well treed walk-in sites
  • water (hand pump)
  • pit toilets
  • firewood
  • bear-proof food storage lockers – limited number available for cyclists. Please do not store coolers in the bear lockers as they’re too big; coolers should be stored in your vehicle.
  • no showers

Recommended Activities

  • Bike the Peter Lougheed Bike Path to the ice cream shop at Boulton Creek.
  • Scroll down for more activities in the park!

For more walk-in campgrounds, please see this post: Beyond Car Camping (Walk-In Campgrounds Near Calgary).

7. William Watson Lodge & Campground

This wheelchair-accessible campground is for guests of William Watson Lodge only. It has 13 accessible, full hookup sites with great views and partial shade.

Recommended Activities

  • Take the accessible Bill Benson Trail (700 m) to Lower Kananaskis Lake. Enjoy the views and do some fishing! See photo in #2 above.
  • Drive to Elkwood Amphitheatre (parking available) and then take the paved Marl Lake Trail.

8. Nearby: Mount Kidd RV Park

Mount Kidd RV Park is a private campground half an hour from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park with full hookups / power only / power and water as well as 32 unserviced sites. Amenities include: convenience store, coffee counter, showers, whirlpools, games room, laundry, tennis courts, wading pool, and amphitheater. They are open year round, so they’re a good option when the Peter Lougheed campgrounds are closed. 

RECOMMENDED ACTIVITIES

  • Ride the Bill Milne Trail (paved) to Wedge Pond, Kovach Pond Day Use (picnic area), Ribbon Creek, or Kananaskis Village! Note that there’s a big hill between Kananaskis Village and Ribbon Creek which is why we start at Kovach Pond. The rest of the trail is fairly flat except for 2 km before Wedge Pond.
  • Hike the Troll Falls/Hay Meadow Loop.
  • Go fishing at Mount Lorette Ponds.

Mention: Sundance Lodges has tipis, trapper’s tents, and unserviced campsites near Galatea trailhead.

Activities in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Family Friendly Hikes

  • Awesome Arethusa Cirque & Little Arethusa is a great larch hike. Do the cirque if you’re short on time, or combine it with the scramble for epic views.
  • Black Prince Cirque is a fun one to toss rocks in in early summer; the intermittent pond dries up later in the season (4.3 km return)
  • Boulton Creek Interpretive Trail (4.9 km loop)
  • Chester Lake (9.2 km): Closed until June 29, but worth the wait!
  • Elbow Lake Trail (2.8 km return): This pretty alpine lake makes a great base camp for exploring the area’s many trails. It’s also a good fishing spot (small brook trout, please check Alberta Fishing Regulations for catch limits). Note that the winter gate on Highway 40 is closed until June 15, so the trail is closed until then. For more information on hiking and camping at Elbow Lake, please see this post: Camping at Elbow Lake Backcountry Campground.
  • Lower Lake Trail (3.5 km one way) goes from Canyon Day Use to the lookout at the end of Bill Benson Trail. The trail is well shaded but offers good views of the lake!
  • Lower Lake Interpretive Trail (500 m) is a pleasant forest walk on a hot day. Take the trail to Bill Benson Trail which ends at the shores of Lower Kananaskis Lake. This popular viewpoint is also a good fishing hole.
  • Marl Lake Interpretive Trail (1.5 km loop from campground / 3.1 km return from amphitheater parking lot) departs from Elkwood Campground and is a wheelchair-accessible trail to a small lake.
  • Peter Lougheed Paved Bike Trails: Walk or bike this network of trails in summer and cross country ski them in the winter!
  • Pocaterra Cirque and Ridge is an awesome fall hike with larches, a pretty tarn, and ridge walk. Hike to the tarn, cirque, ridgetop, or north end of the ridge.
  • Ptarmigan Cirque (4 km return): This beautiful hike is the best short hike in Kananaskis! Hike Highwood Meadows while you’re there (same trailhead)! Note that the winter gate on Highway 40 is closed until June 15, so the trail is closed until then.
  • Rawson Lake (~8 km return):  Hike past falls, through forest, and along boardwalks to a beautiful lake often frequented by wildlife. For one of the best views in Kananaskis, go around the south side of the lake then up the ridge (called Sarrail Ridge or Rawson Ridge). Note that the ridge is extremely steep and should only be attempted in summer conditions due to high avalanche danger.
  • Upper Lake Trail: From North Interlakes, hike 0.5-2 km to beaches along the shore. For a full day hike or multiday trip with kids, hike to the Point or Forks Campground and carry on to pretty Three Isle Lake. Northover Ridge is an amazing long/multi-day hike. From Upper Lake Day Use, hike as far as you wish around the lake.

Paddling

  • Paddle on Lower Kananaskis Lake: Canoe/kayak rentals available from Boulton Creek Rentals (opens mid to late June); boat launches at Canyon and Interlakes. Canoe, kayak, and stand up paddleboard (SUP) rentals also available from Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village.
  • Paddle on Upper Kananaskis Lake: Bring your own boat/SUP.

Biking

Bike the Peter Lougheed (paved) bike path to the lake / Boulton Creek Trading Post for an ice cream. There are several other trails that connect to the Peter Lougheed Trail; trails that are ski trails in the winter! If hiking with younger riders, avoid Lookout, Whiskeyjack and Tyrwhitt as these have big hills.

Need to rent? Bike, Trail-a-Bike and inline skate rentals are available from Boulton Creek Rentals (opens mid June). Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village also rents bikes.

Fishing

bull-trout-kananaskis
Beautiful bull trout I caught on Upper Kananaskis Lake!
Note: ALL Bull Trout are catch & release!!
  • Fishing at Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes is fantastic! Anyone over 16 years old must have a valid Alberta Fishing License. Please check and follow Alberta Fishing Regulations.

What You Need to Know

When camping in Peter Lougheed Park, you really get away from it all!

You are in bear country so you must keep a bare site! This means all food, coolers, beverages and cookware MUST BE KEPT IN YOUR VEHICLE when you are not at your site or when you are sleeping. Last year a bear was put down because it was used to finding food in the campround and was getting too close to campground visitors. A fed bear is a dead bear! Materials may be confiscated and you will be fined and evicted from your site if food/cookware/drinks are not put away properly. For tips on hiking and backpacking in bear country, please see this post.

The nearest gas stations are at Fortress Junction (20 km north of Boulton Creek Campground on Highway 40) and the Esso near Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino (near junction of Highway 1 and Highway 40).

There is no cell phone service, so plan ahead when/where you will meet other members of your party. There are pay phones at Boulton Creek, Canyon, Elkwood, and Lower Lake Campgrounds.

Flush toilets are available in the Visitor Information Centre as well as the shower buildings at Elkwood and Boulton Creek Campgrounds. Mount Kidd RV park also has flush toilets and showers.

There are camping stores at Boulton Creek Trading Post and Fortress Junction. On the way, stop at Kananaskis Outfitters in Kananaskis Village and check out their extensive collection of outdoor gear.

Where will you go first?

Disclosure: I am an Alberta Parks Ambassador, but all words and opinions are my own.

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1 comment

Playoutsidegal May 27, 2016 - 4:38 PM

As of May 21 "a bear warning is in place for Boulton Creek Campground, Lower Lake Campground, Lower Lake Group Campground and Interlakes Campground." (Source: Alberta Parks). Please check advisories before heading out!

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