If you are looking for a place to explore during the winter months, I cannot recommend Chester Lake more. It is one of the perfect hikes to transition from being a summer hiker to all season hiking. Chester is an easy hike, so it is great for beginners during all seasons. However, it also provides gorgeous views and accumulates a considerable snow pack, giving an authentic winter hiking experience while remaining approachable for those new to winter hiking.

A photo of the trail on the Chester Lake hike in winter 2020.

Chester Lake is a 9.3 km out-and-back hike with 300 total meters of elevation gain. This elevation remains relatively gradually overall, so it is certainly doable in the snow. You may want to bring micro-spikes or hiking crampons for extra grip. You can check out my other winter hiking recommendations here if you need more information on what to bring and what to know before going to the mountains in the winter.

I did this hike first in the early fall when I was still quite new to hiking. I hiked it again in March of 2019, which I would still consider a winter hike, although we were graced with warm weather. This hike was the first trail my hiking boots saw (though the ground itself was covered in a thick layer of snow), so it remains a special one for me. When I hiked the trail of winter 2019, I was surprised at the depth of snowpack at the top.

The hike did not take us long, I believe less than 3 hours round-trip. That being said, it was windy at the lake, so we did not stick around too long to eat lunch before the chill got to us. If the sunshine had stayed for the duration of the hike we might have taken more time at the top.

The clearing around Chester Lake.

After reaching the clearing in the trees where the trail flattened out, it became apparent that staying on the packed-down trail was imperative. That is, unless you wanted to sink to your hip in snow. I accidentally stepped off the path more than once, and I don’t think my foot touched the ground. If my other leg wasn’t rooted on a solid path of snow, I am not sure how deep I might have sunk into the snow. Without my fellow hiker, I would have had a difficult time getting back on the path.

Though I always recommend hiking with at least one other person (especially for newbies!), I think it is extremely important in the winter, as you never know when you will encounter new obstacles created by the ice and snow.

This trail is also accommodates snowshoers and cross-country skiers! Keep an eye out for others using the trails and be courteous of your fellow winter sportsmen.

Mount Chester

This trail is completely different between summer and fall, so I definitely recommend going during both seasons. I hope to make it out here again this winter!

Don’t forget that a pass is necessary in Kananaskis park boundaries in the winter months as well! You can click here to be directed to the Alberta website to purchase your pass.

All of the photos in this week’s post were taken by my good friend and fellow hiker. I am so grateful to her for these lovely shots!


Published by immersivetraveller

I am a recent graduate with a BA in Honours English. I enjoy creative writing and language learning as well as travelling and exploring.

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