Ribbon Lake

- 13 Kilometers
- Intermediate to Difficult
- Full Day


Hiking, Biking and Camping permitted


Ribbon Lake

Access: Hwy 40, Kananskis Village
Parking: Ribbon Creek Day Use area
Camping:Backcountry camping at both Ribbon Falls and Ribbon Lake
Lodging: Kananaskis Village

- Bike 'n Hike, approx 3 hrs one way
  (Biking access for first 4km or so)

From a geographical standpoint Ribbon lake is an interesting proposition, because it is rife with possibilities only the most ardent backcountry enthusiast gets excited about. First, you've got the exhilarating trek up Ribbon Creek to the Falls with a challenging climb up the Headwall to Ribbon lake where you can camp, fish, etc .. However, another option would be to drop a car (or bike) off at the Ribbon Creek parking lot, head down to Galatea's trailhead and make the foray up to Lillian and Galatea Lakes, Here you can camp, fish, etc .. and then take Guinns Pass which is a trail cutting north across to Ribbon Lake, thereby making a satisfying loop around Mt. Kidd.

Oooorrrrrr .... you can drive up Smith-Dorrien Spray trail and from Buller Pond make the 10km Bike 'n Hike east along Buller's Pass, arriving at the South shore of Ribbon Lake from behind. Myriad of possibities ...

For now though the trail up Ribbon Creek is a pleasant day trip, covering 11 km's from the parking lot to Ribbon Falls with plenty of vantage points to view the creek's cascading series of cataracts. Now, it's my opinion that combining Biking and Hiking is the best way to go if you plan to include the Headwall and Lake as part of your day trip. I mean, it's not a problem if you're a real strong hiker and know what to expect, but I've passed many a daytripper on the trail who seemed ready and willing to barter for my bike so they could cruise the good path down. Plus it's a really nice technical ride, so why not trim a few hours off and have some added fun ?

NOTE: After the first 4 kilometers there's a bike rack and a warning about riding beyond that point, but's it's much ado about nothing. Also, when riding down you do have to be careful for hikers because this is a very popular trail due to neighboring Kananaskis Village.

* The 2013 flooding negates this info about the first 4 km. The trail now begins by following an alternate route parallel to the Creek trail. Signs are posted and it is still accessible by Bike.

By about the 11km mark you will come to the Backcountry campground at Ribbon Falls, which can be quite inviting after backpacking for several hours on a hot day, but it's also pretty tempting to forge ahead to the lake and camp there (both spots have primitive backcountry campgrounds). Having said that, the approach is a gruelling ascent on a winding path through the trees, crossing the head of a gully onto a large scree slope. At the base of the headwall are a series of 3 chains to guide and assist you in pulling yourself up to the uppermost ledge, which isn't as daunting a task as some will lead you to believe, however it can be tricky if you're wearing a heavy pack. For this reason you may want to bring some rope just so you have the option of hoisting the packs up one at a time in case you lose your nerve. Once you've dragged yourself up, white knuckles and all, the path traverses the top of the headwall and you stroll past the falls of the outlet stream, eventually cresting a rocky hill to the Lake. On this day it was overcast with an eery fog that hung low like a veil ... and it was quiet. Almost too quiet.

No ... make that peaceful.