Backpacking – Turbine Canyon and North Kananaskis Pass

I hadn’t planned any backpacking trips this summer – more and more we haven’t been making time for it and this summer was no exception. But then we got a phone call a few weeks ago from the same friends we’d hiked Northover Ridge with – were we free to go backpacking? Of course!

I hauled out all our gear (some that hadn’t been used in a few years), put together some simple food, and on Saturday we headed out to the mountains. We had been to Turbine Canyon before (in 2006) but I really couldn’t remember it and I was excited at any chance to be out.

We’ve been having some really great weather but this weekend was definitely cooler and wetter which was too bad. Still, you don’t get to choose the weather and it could have been much worse. The trail starts at Upper Kananaskis Lakes (where it was sunny) and then climbs through the forest and an avalanche slope. It wasn’t cold on our walk it but there was an on again, off again light drizzle and I had to put my rain jacket on to stay warm as we ate lunch.  We’re certainly not as young and fit as we used to be so I think we were all pretty happy when we got to the headwall and entered into a more level meadow for the remainder of the hike.

Putnik Pond, on the way into Turbine Canyon

Putnik Pond, on the way into Turbine Canyon

It is about 15 km to the campground and we reached Turbine around 3:30 pm. I didn’t love the campsites – they are poorly marked and some are completely lacking level(ish) sites – but the eating area is nice and has lots of bear bins. We found ourselves sites, then went to explore Turbine Canyon. It really is startling how quickly the creek running beside the campground drops into a deep, deep canyon (which is also really hard to photograph).

Turbine Canyon

Turbine Canyon

After our canyon exploring we decided to hike the 4 km (round-trip) to North Kananaskis Pass. The weather was iffy but it was either walk or sit around freezing in camp. The 4 km is definitely worth it as the pass is very, very pretty. There is a lake, a great view of a glacier and a steep, steep pass.

Maude Lake, on the way to North K. Pass

Maude Lake, on the way to North K. Pass

Looking over the pass

Looking over the pass

After our hike, we hid from the rain for a bit, made a very chilly dinner and went to bed at 7:45 pm. I woke up at 7:30 am the next morning but the weather conditions hadn’t changed. We had a chilly breakfast – oatmeal and instant coffee – and then packed up to head out. When the sun came out the mountains were pretty and it certainly is a scenic hike so there was lots to look at while we walked.

Lawson Lake, on the way out

Lawson Lake, on the way out

Mountain View

Scenery on the hike

On the way out

On the way out

It took us longer to get out even though it was down hill – lots of breaks that turned into longer visits on the side of the trail. I think everyone was a little sore and tired. Still we all agreed, after we reached the truck and got to drop our packs, that it was worth it to be outside and hiking again. I didn’t remember the hike being as pretty as it was and it made me want to get out more often.

Total distance: ~34 km (including side trip to the North Kananaskis Pass)
Hiking Time: Approximately 5 hours each way to Turbine Campground (including lunch and snack breaks)

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