A short and steep unofficial trail gets you above treeline fast for awesome views of the Spray Lakes.
Little Lougheed, an outlier of Mount Lougheed, is a short and rewarding little summit in Spray Valley Provincial Park. Although it’s smaller than the surrounding peaks, it is perfectly situated to provide panoramic views from an elevation of 2,483 metres. You may have noticed this distinctive peak from the road and wondered how long it takes to get to the top. For most, it’s a 2-3 hour grind due to the incredible amount of elevation over a very short distance, but only an hour to come down. My kids and I spent 3 hours hiking and 1.75 hours eating, taking photos, and catching our breath.
With a wee bit of scrambling near the summit, and lots of loose rock, good hiking boots are a must and trekking poles are recommended. For similar views with less effort, try West Wind Pass (a little longer, but considerably less elevation gain).
Little Lougheed Route Description
The unmarked, but well-defined trail to Little Lougheed begins on the left side of Spencer Creek. Follow the path for 300 metres, then cross the bridge on the left. You will stay on this trail, the High Rockies Trail, for about 500 metres until you see an inukshuk on the right. Here, you’ll take the little path on the right and continue straight up the hill.
This section of the trail is tree covered, lush, and mossy with a stream flowing through it. You’ll have to cross it, but it’s very shallow and narrow, so if you cross in the right spot, you won’t get your feet wet.
Around the 1.2 km mark, the view opens up at the base of a rockslide. Here, you get the first glimpse of Spray Lakes Reservoir through the trees and even have a big, flat boulder to picnic on! When you’re ready to go again, stay on the path at right to go around the rock slide.
Continuing onward and upward, you’ll reach a small cliffband. You can climb across the top of it, or take the easier route on the right.
1.7 km from the start, you’ll reach a little plateau that makes a lovely viewpoint and rest spot. From here, there’s only 350 metres of elevation to go.. in less than 1 km! This is why this hike hurts… but it’s totally worth it, I promise.
The last 200 metres are the trickiest as there are several paths to choose from, but ultimately you want to wrap around to the left of the summit and then hike up to the top. If you climb higher and closer to the summit bump before heading to the left, there’s less loose rock. Don’t forget to yell “Rock!” if you dislodge a rock, to protect hikers below.
From the summit, there’s a gorgeous panoramic view of the Spray Valley. Old Goat Mountain and Mount Nestor are across the lake. Behind you, are Mount Lougheed and Mount Sparrowhawk. And of course, below you, is the glittering Spray Lakes Reservoir. Have a break – you earned it! – and take it easy on the way down, returning the way you came.
Little Lougheed At a Glance
- Distance: 5.8 km round trip
- Elevation gain: 768 metres
- Difficulty: Strenuous hike / easy scramble – very steep with lots of loose rock
- Parking: roadside
- Trailhead: unmarked, on left side of Spencer Creek
- Nearest washrooms: Driftwood Day Use (4.7 km north)
- When to go: June through October when the slope is dry
Little Lougheed is 1 hour and 45 minutes from Calgary or 45 minutes south of Canmore on Spray Lakes Road/Smith-Dorrien Trail. The trailhead is located 4.7 km south of Driftwood Day Use on the left (north) side of the creek.
Get Google Maps directions to the trailhead here: Little Lougheed Trailhead.
Know Before You Go
A Kananaskis Conservation Pass is required to park in Kananaskis. Purchase your pass online from the Government of Alberta.
We do not recommend this trail in winter conditions unless you have Avalanche Skills Training. Read our story Why you need Avalanche Skills Training for more information, and take the training if you like adventuring in the mountains year round!
What to Bring
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You should also carry The Ten Essentials including: water, extra food, extra clothes, a headlamp, a GPS/compass and topographic map of the area, bug spray (this one contains 20% icaridin and will repel ticks), sunscreen (this one is safe for babies), and bear spray. Carry bear spray in a Frontiersman Bear Spray Holster (attaches to your backpack or belt), or Scat Belt.