Fire lookouts are a natural magnet for hikers, for fairly obvious reasons. They sit up high with commanding views that often take in a 360° panorama. Oftentimes, they have wide supply trails leading up to them (though most supply is by helicopter these days).
Getting to the lookout
Kananaskis Fire Lookout is one of the lowest elevation lookouts. It features a really good, fairly short and easy access “trail”. It’s mostly a road with a gentle grade leading up from the nearest access point on Highway 40.
You can hike up to it or get there by bike, too. If you hike it from Highway 40, it’s an easy hour walk up with only 280 m height gain. It’s also close to all the Peter Lougheed facilities. It can be readily accessed from Boulton Creek campground using the Whiskey Jack trail.
Like most all fire lookouts, it’s closed in winter. This one is a popular XC ski destination, though, being right on the Lookout trail, and near the Tyrwhitt loop.
The first lookout here was built in 1952, but the present building was put up in 1976.
What you can see
Despite being a low elevation (just under 2,100 m ASL, about 350 m above Upper Kananaskis Lake), it offers a broad panorama across the lake basins. Views also include Elk Pass, plus north up the valley including views of the Opals.
One of the best things about this hike is that it’s a good one on less than pleasant days. If you find yourself down in Peter Lougheed and it’s drizzly and overcast, this is a nice short walk.
One other thing we’ve noticed is that the lookout is home to the fattest Golden Mantled Ground Squirrels we have ever seen. No, they are not fed by Lookout staff. And you shouldn’t feed them either.
As always, remember that this lookout is someone’s home and workplace. Stay away from the buildings, but feel free to use the picnic tables that are there for visitors.
Find out more about K-Country’s special places here!