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4 to 5 hours / 9.5K return

Elevation Gain



Trailhead: Park at the Chester Lake parking lot located on the east side of #40 gravel highway Smith Dorrien Spray Lakes road. 46kms south of Canmore across from Burstall Pass parking lot. Note, Gravel road access only. Kananaskis Country.


Description: Locate the trail head on the far left side of the Chester Lake parking lot. If you decide to do the Headwall Chester Lakes loop the trailhead to Headwall Lakes is located on the right side of the parking lot. More details regarding the loop can be found below.

Chester Lake is a popular winter ski and snow shoe trail that is well maintained throughout the year. The trail starts on an old forest logging road, bikes are only allowed for the first 2kms. Follow the trail as it works it’s way through beautiful alpine meadows located before Chester Lake.

This is perfect Grizzly Bear habitat so keep an eye out. Chester Lake is popular with anglers and holds a healthy population of Cutthroat and Dolly Varden Trout. You can expect a lot of people here during the summer months. From Chester Lake strong hikers can complete the Chester Lake, Fortress Mountain and Headwall Lakes loop. You can complete the loop in either direction however the preferred route is Headwall Lakes to Chester lake. The ascent to Fortress Mountain col from Chester Lake is a long grind up loose steep scree which is much easier to descend.

If you want to summit Fortress Mountain, Chester Lake is the shorter route. The pass towards Headwall Lakes is straight ahead. Follow the valley another 2kms or so and ascend the steep scree slopes to the col located below Fortress Mountain. Once you arrive at the col  you can hike another 472ms to the summit of Fortress Mountain. Total gain of 1411ms. Fortress Mountain is considered an easy scramble with one short cliff band below the summit. Expect 6-8 hours to do the 20km loop and Fortress Mountain. See Headwall Lakes for more information regarding the loop.

You are in bear country

Peter Lougheed Prov Park Map PDF

Items Reviewed - 1

Mark Townsend

Well worth the effort to continue pass the lake and summit Fortress Mountain.

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