Saturday, 12 January 2013

Snowshoeing with Kids in Kananaskis: Hogarth Lakes

When I take kids hiking or kids snowshoeing, the goal usually isn't to reach the end of the trail. It's to have fun. Luckily the Canadian Rockies are full of places to have fun in summer and winter. Kananaskis and Banff have a wealth of hiking and snowshoeing trails that are perfect for kids. One of those places is Hogarth Lakes in Kananaskis.

Starting at the Burstall day use area, we followed the trail a hundred meters or so and turned right at the sign marking the Hogarth Lakes snowshoe trail. This took 20 minutes, as the kids repeatedly dove off the trail and down the short, steep and deep hill to the left. There was at least a meter of snow, deeper than most of them had ever seen. Eventually we were able to coax them away from their snowy frolick and onto the main trail...where they proceeded to jump off the snowshoe tracks and into the even deeper snow.

I'd had hopes of making it all the way around the flat 5 km loop that winds past Mud Lake and the two or three ponds that make up Hogarth Lakes. Maybe even leave the trail, head north through a very low pass, and check out the Burstall Lakes and an avalanche impact pool I'd snowshoed to a couple years before. However, I quickly gave up these hopes when I saw how much fun the kids were having rolling in the snow and climbing snow banks beside the trail and sliding down them.

After a couple hours we'd probably covered a kilometer, and the kids were soaked with snow down the back of their coats and in their boots. It may have been the fact that their wet clothes were slowly freezing or it may have been the promise of ice cream (I find that ice cream is a better post-snowshoe bribe than hot chocolate; go figure), but the snowshoe back only took half an hour.

For the more adventurous, the Burstall day use area can be the starting point for a wide variety of fun. Turning left where we'd turned right onto the snowshoe trail leads to Burstall Lakes and Burstall Pass (avalanche terrain; don't take kids beyond the avalanche transceiver practice area). Taking another left off the main trail to Burstall Lakes leads to the next valley over, where you can find some good bushwhacking (again, this eventually leads to avalanche terrain, so don't take kids there unless you're experienced and can recognize where to stop).

Distance: About 5 km for the full loop
Elevation gain: pretty flat
Snowshoeing/Exploring Time: 2 to 5 hours
Directions: West on the Trans-Canada to Highway 40. Follow the 40 south to Kananaskis Lakes Trail and turn right. In a couple of kilometers, turn right on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail. In 22 kilometers turn left into the Burstall day use area. The drive south from Canmore is shorter distance-wise but takes longer because the road isn't paved

Click here for a driving map.

Wondering how to get started? Read these posts:

Kids Snowshoeing Gear: Picking out Kids Snowshoes

Wondering where to go snowshoeing with kids? Read these posts:

Snowshoeing with Kids in Kananaskis: River View Trail
Snowshoeing with Kids in Banff: Lake Minnewanka
Snowshoeing with Kids in Kananaskis: West Bragg Creek
Heli-snowshoeing with Kids in Kananaskis
Snowshoeing with Kids in Kananaskis: Canyon Creek

One kid and one parent on the trail, two kids in the snow.

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