5.5 miles
554 ft
-1,193 ft
Avg time


  • Riding area
  • Difficulty rating
  • Trail type
  • Bike type
    AM, XC
  • Trail Usage
    Biking Primary
  • Direction
    Both Directions
  • Climb Difficulty
  • Physical rating
  • Global Ranking

Carnarvon Lake Bike and Hike. Kananaskis Highwood Country.

This is considered a moderate to difficult bike and hike but would consider it a difficult long day hike due to the return trip distance of approximately 19.5km with a total elevation gain 680m. Allow 4-5 hours with a bike. It's an intermediate bike the first 8.5km then it's a difficult hike the remaining 1.5km up to Carnarvon Lake. You will have to cross the Highwood River so expect to get your feet wet. Might be a good idea to pack a second pair of shoes then stash them after crossing the Highwood River.

Park at the Cat Creek Recreation Area, look for the old logging road at the end of the parking lot heading north along the Highwood River. Follow the old logging road approximately 2.5km to the Highwood River. Cross the river and take the Carnarvon logging road to your left, the right road leads to Lake Of The Horns. Follow this road along Carnarvon Creek as it slowly starts to climb up the valley. Make allot of noise and keep your eye's out for bears here. All the valleys in this area are prime Grizzly Bear habitat. At about 5.5km the trail intersects with another logging road that drops down to your left. Avoid this left hand road and keep going straight ahead. Stay on this main road as it climbs and drops until you arrive at a high open point looking down towards the Headwall. Leave your bikes here then walk down the scree trail that leads to the bottom of the headwall. Keep your eyes on the ground looking for a rock and log trail marker that points to a trail on your right. Take this trail on your right and work your way up the rock and scree towards the bottom of the waterfall you see on the headwall. Once you reach the base of the waterfall you'll see a chain to your right that is bolted to the rock face. If you're faint of heart you may want to avoid this hike as a fall from here could be fatal. Work your way up approximately 20m of chain over the rock slabs until you reach safe ground then hike a short distance to the top of the headwall. As you crest the headwall Carnarvon Lake lies at your feet.

Carnarvon Lake is absolutely stunning. It's a beautiful Caribbean blue color and crystal clear. It may be the nicest of the three headwall lakes located in this area. Lake Of The Horns and Loomis Lake being the other two. Catch your breath and keep going along the right hand side to the lakes end then past a few campsites that are tucked in the low brush. From here hike up towards the saddle overlooking the lake. Views from the saddle are even better and it's a great place to eat your lunch while you ponder the thought of stepping into British Columbia. The top of the saddle marks the Alberta / British Columbia boundary. Carnarvon Lake is stocked with Cutthroat Trout however their growth rate is very slow due to the lack of food at higher elevations. You'll need a fishing license to try out your luck. Nearby hikes include Lake Of The Horns Hike, Loomis Lake Hike, Picklejar Lakes Hike, Ptarmigan Cirque Hike, Running Rain Lake Hike, Mist Ridge Hike and Lineham Ridge Hike. You are in bear country.

source: ...
Access Info

The trailhead is located at the end of the Cat Creek Recreation Area parking lot 129km west of the city of Calgary on the #40 Highwood Trail highway. Note that the #40 Highwood Trail Highway is closed from Dec 1st to June 14th. Park at Cat Creek, trail starts at the west side of the lot. Bike in 12 KM and hike to Carnavon Lake, at the BC border.

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More Stats for Carnarvon Lake Bike and Hike mountain bike trail
  • Altitude change
    -639 ft
  • Altitude min
    5,189 ft
  • Altitude max
    1.1 miles
  • Altitude start
    1.1 miles
  • Altitude end
    5,194 ft
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    1.5 miles
  • Distance down
    3.3 miles
  • Distance flat
    3,663 ft
  • Avg time
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1 Review & Comments

  • + 1
flag spicytuna (Jul 24, 2016 at 21:16)
 That track in the map is NOT the Carnarvon lake trail. That is the trail for the Lake of the Horns Bike trail. Found out the hard way today.

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    • Updated on Thu 2015-10-01 @ 9:58am
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