Picklejar Lakes

- 4.5 Kilometers
- Easy to Intermediate
- Half to Full Day

Hiking, Biking and Camping permitted


Picklejar Lakes

Access: Hwy 40, Lantern Creek (closed between Kananaskis Lakes Trail turn-off and Highwood Junction from December 1 to June 15).
Parking: Lantern Creek

- Hike, approx. 2 hrs one way; camping at Cataract Creek.

When I started exploring this backcountry in 1992, I hiked everywhere, and In doing so found that the only drawback to travelling by foot was the time wasted on those seemingly endless logging roads, which for me weren't doing all that much to enhance the experience. So as Mtn Biking evolved into a passion of mine, I became less interested in trails where I couldn't take my bike ... let's just say it had to be a pretty exceptional place for me to even consider it. Well, Picklejar Lakes is that kind of place. This is one destination I never get tired of visiting or talking about, and one I've also dragged a lot of people to because words can never do it justice. It's a great way to introduce people to Kananaskis Country because in a short time and with relatively little effort you can really gain a sense of the pristine wilderness this backcountry has in store.

The name is said to have originated at a time when the fishing was so good it was like catching fish in a picklejar. If so, that would hardly apply today as the only fish appear to be in the first lake, small and in short abundance. An interesting thing about this trail is that it doesn't follow Picklejar Creek as one might assume, but rather Lantern Creek which is one valley over. I met a couple on the trail who regaled me with the story of their visit 20 years earlier, before any trail existed, when they decided to bushwack up Picklejar creek to the lakes. By the time night fell several hours later they found themselves overwhelmed with fatigue and utterly lost, spending the night out there with just the clothes on their backs, realizing that following the creek isn't always a sure-fire plan.

From the Lantern Creek Day Use area, cross Hwy 40 to the east side and pick up the trail as it goes north, following it up into the trees as it steadily gains elevation. Soon you're crossing high grassy slopes through the open valley, giving you a terrific view of the surrounding mountain ranges. There's a drop down to the creek and eventually a steep shaly slope as the trail winds it's way to the ridge, where in anticipation you can peer down the other side into the expansive basin below where four lakes sit, one after the other. Now it's just a careful traverse down a large rocky slope to be greeted by the first lake, which like the second and fourth lakes is shallow and ringed with forest, varying only slightly in size. The second lake is small and still and completely enclosed by trees giving it a dark foreboding presence ... a little creepy. The third lake is long with rocky shores and appears to be quite deep as you stare into the crystal blue abyss ... And as I came upon the fourth lake I was reminded that bears also drop in from time to time (see picture above) as evidenced by the Grizzly tracks in the lake bed.