Trailhead: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Off the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road about 20km from the junction.
Distance Round Trip: 10 km
Elevation Gain: 310m
Duration Return Trip: 4-5 hours If you stop to picnic
This whole hike is stunning with great views of Burstall Pass as well as Mount Chester after you gain some elevation. Once you begin you start by slowly gaining elevation for a third of the way up. You come to a fork where you can go left or right. (This is a loop for Mountain Biker). If hiking with kids I suggest going right. The trail on the left has a lot more loose rocks which can be hard for wee ones. I also recommend going early in the morning as the elevation you gain is in a treed area, however it does not provide much shade. I would also recommend bringing insect repellent. There were heaps of horse flies on this trail.
Once you get to the top of the loop you follow the trail right to gain a bit more elevation (this is where the mountain biking trail ends). There was so much wildlife on the trail. We saw pine martins, grouse, a coyote and even a Grizzly! more on that later.
Eventually the trail opens up to a large meadow with panoramic views of the mountain range and a fantastic view of Mount Chester which you can also summit (sans children in packs). Great areas you can sit and take it all in with some ponds and streams throughout.
You continue on the trail just a little further to Chester Lake.
On our trip we saw a young Grizzly who was enjoying berries and roots. This is a known area for Grizzlies and Black Bears to frequent, due to the amount of vegetation around. Please always practice safe animal aware skills and pack all appropriate tools. Give space and let them be. We gave the Grizzly heaps of space and let him enjoy his foraging. After all, we were in his home. It was great to also see all the other hikers do the same.
Note: Parks Canada has closed down this trail for the time being to give the Grizzly Space. Please check back on their site to see when it opens again. This trail also has a seasonal closure from May 1 to June 29 to allow the trail to dry. You can snowshoe here in the winter.
Photo of the Lake and Grizzly are from a Mama we met on the trail (Natascha Leidel)