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The Complete Guide to Get to Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake

The Complete Guide to Get to Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake

Here’s the scoop on tackling Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake – it’s like a two-for-one deal, but with more sweat and less shopping. Now, while the Rawson Lake hike is your “moderate” appetizer, Sarrail Ridge is the main course, and it’s no walk in the park. 

Consider it the rollercoaster of trails – thrilling, a bit nerve-wracking, and best enjoyed with a firm grip on reality (and maybe a granola bar). Luckily, we’ve done the legwork and crafted this guide on everything you need to know about conquering this hike. 

How does one get to Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake?

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To reach Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake, follow the Rawson Lake hike, which takes you around Lower Kananaskis Lake, past a waterfall, and up a 300m ascent to the beautiful Rawson Lake. 

From that point, it takes approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes to get to Sarrail Ridge, covering a steeper ascent of 670m over 5 kilometres. While the majority of the hike to Rawson Lake is easy, the climb to Sarrail Ridge poses a bit of a challenge.

Rawson LakeModerate ●●●○○
Sarrail RidgeHard ●●●●○
Distance11.5 km
Elevation670 m
Duration4 – 6 hours
Trail TypeOut and back
Surface The trail has packed dirt with roots and rocks showing, and there’s loose dirt as you climb up to the ridge

How to Get from Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake

Start of at the Upper Kananaskis parking lot

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So, to kick off the Rawson Lake adventure, you’ll find the trailhead in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, nestled in the beauty of Kananaskis Country. Just a heads up, there’s no public transport like buses or shuttles around – consider renting a car to reach the trailhead.

Good news on the parking front for the Rawson Lake trail – they’ve got a spacious lot, so no need to stress about snagging a spot if you’re not an early bird. The parking area comes fully loaded with handy stuff like washrooms, picnic tables, and a beach by Upper Kananaskis Lake.

Follow the lake’s shoreline to reach Rawson Lake

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Kick off your journey at Upper Kananaskis Lake, and the trail will guide you west along its shoreline. About a kilometre in, you’ll hit a fork in the trail – go left.

The stretch from Upper Kananaskis Lake to Rawson Lake involves a mellow uphill through a wooded area, clocking in at roughly two kilometres with a 300-meter climb. It’s not a major workout (kids can handle it), but you’ll notice that ascent as you go. 

Due to its popularity, the trail can round up quite the crowd. Practice good trail etiquette and pass others politely.

As you get close to Rawson Lake, brace yourself for a bit of mud and water action on the trail. They’ve got your back, though – there are bridges and boardwalks to navigate these spots.

Begin the hike at Rawson Trailhead

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Now, let’s talk about the Sarrail Ridge trail – it’s no walk in the park, folks. After a moderate hike to Rawson Lake, the real deal begins. 

Hikers will loop around the lake, then face a challenging uphill climb through an alpine meadow and straight to Sarrail Ridge’s summit. 

It’s a steep one but not quite a scramble, so bringing trekking poles is a smart move. The terrain can get slippery, and opinions vary on whether to tackle it dry or wet. 

Hike and start climbing along the initial ascent to Sarrail Ridge

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After Rawson Lake, keep circling to the lake’s backside. Look right, and there’s the alpine meadow along Sarrail Ridge – your climbing arena! 

Stats time: the steep ascent to the summit is under 1 km, packing a punch with a 400m elevation gain. Yes, it’s steep, with no switchbacks – just a straight shot to the top. 

A rope aids in a rocky section, but it’s mainly a climb, climb, climb scenario. With the right mindset, you can conquer it in under an hour.

The summit? Pure magic. A lush alpine meadow awaits, offering panoramic views of Upper Kananaskis Lake on one side and the emerald Rawson Lake on the other. 

Not to be dramatic, but it’s one of the most incredible hikes out there. Enjoy the adventure!

How to Get to the Parking Lot

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  • Step 1: To park in Kananaskis Country, get a daily or yearly Kananaskis Conservation Pass. You can buy it online, and it’s linked to your license plate—no need for a physical pass in your car. 

If you prefer, you can also grab a pass at the Kananaskis Visitor Information Centre on Highway 40, either in person or using their WiFi. 

  • Step 2: Take Highway 1 and head south on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail). Keep going until you hit Highway 742 (Kananaskis Lakes Trail).
  • Step 3: Stay on Kananaskis Lakes Trail, and when you spot signs leading to the Upper Lake Day Use Area, make a left turn. 
  • Step 4: Once off Kananaskis Lakes Trail, drive past the boat launch and the first parking spot. Keep going until you reach the final parking lot and picnic area at the end of the road.

Best Time to Hike the Sarrail Ridge via Rawson Lake Trail

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The prime time to tackle the Rawson Lake and Sarrail Ridge adventure is from July to late September, soaking in those summer and early fall vibes.  And if Sarrail Ridge is on your hit list, wait for a dry trail before you go all in.

For a bonus treat, hit the trail in the last two weeks of September – that’s when the larch trees glam up with golden needles. Winter, however, turns the area into a snow haven (about 2.5 meters deep!). 

Just a heads-up, it’s a no-go beyond Rawson Lake during winter because of avalanche risks. 

Things to Keep in Mind During the Hike

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Here’s a quick rundown of some nuggets of wisdom that might just make your trek a breeze. 

  • Since this trail dances through bear turf, make sure your sidekick includes bear spray. Oh, and be the life of the party by making a little noise as you stroll – bears appreciate a heads-up.
  • Mountain weather is like a mood swing; it can change on a dime. So, layer up, and you’ll be the fashionista of the summit.
  • Got a hiking app? Download your trail map before you hit the trail—you never know when the signal might ghost you.
  • Pack out your garbage, and if the trailhead bins are throwing a party, take your trash back home. 
  • Toss Sarrail Ridge into your adventure mix, and if you conquer it, grab those trusty hiking poles—they’re your MVPs on the ups and downs.
  • Rawson Lake’s trail is a year-round buddy (minus Sarrail). But for the primo experience, aim for May to October. Winter wanderer? Snowshoes are your pals.
  • Choose a toasty, sunny day to soak in all the lake goodness.
  • Kick off your Rawson Lake journey bright and early to dodge the crowds and catch the lakes in their zen mode.
  • Hiking in the wet season? Slide into some gaiters to keep those feet dry from the mud and muck.
  • Brace yourself for bugs; a bug suit might just be your secret weapon for a peaceful trek. 

There you have it; armed with these tips and know-how, you’re primed for an unforgettable journey on the Sarrail Ridge hike via the Rawson Lake trail. 

Whether you’re soaking in the golden hues of larch trees or conquering the ridge, may your hike be filled with awe-inspiring moments and mountain magic.

And remember, the adventure doesn’t end here – Kananaskis has more trails waiting to be explored or even go for the laid-back route and enjoy the hot springs in Alberta.

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