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Rockies ::  Kananaskis :: Little Lawson

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 Final bit of slightly exposed ridge leading to highpoint with fabulous views to lower K-lake and Opal range

Abstract

Overall Difficulty D4 Unbridged creek crossing. Trail has some steep portions.  Final bit of ridge is rugged and slightly exposed
Snow Factor S2 Excellent winter snowshoe with little avalanche danger. Upper ridge often windblown and snow free
Scenery Outstanding panoramic views of Kananaskis Lakes basin, Opal range, King's Creek and Kent ridges
Trail/Marking Poor Faint trail to treeline occasionally flagged, but way is obvious
Suggested Time 4hr Return time to highpoint.  Possibility of further exploration towards Mt. Lawson true summit
Elevation Start: 1700m     Max: 2375m     Total: ~750m  Round Trip: 8.5km
Gear Day hikers or full hiking boots. Poles helpful for stability on steeper parts and final rugged bit before the summit
Water Dry hike past Kent creek;  carry 1-2L
Dog Friendly Yes Cougar tracks have been reported in upper ridge -- standard precautions

 

 

Gallery

Views from Trans-Alta road few minutes from parking

As road curls towards Kent creek ascent ridge comes into view Old intake and end of road; cross right and pick-up trail Fantastic views of K-lakes basin at treeline

Kings Creek ridge on east side of Kananaskis Trail

Upper part of ridge leading to lower summit Carpet of gold larch needles just past lower summit Rock cutlass before narrow part of final ridge

Mt. Lawson from highest point of Little Lawson ridge

Zoom on Mt. Kidd group from summit cairn Panoramic views of long ridge extending to Mt. Lawson Twilight roadside shot near the parking

 

Summary

Such a huge reward for so little effort!  While Mt. Lawson is well-known moderate Kane scramble, its south end (nick-named "Little Lawson") can be reached from Smith-Dorrien trail with little difficulty.  Views are nothing short of outstanding, and personal favorite of Kananaskis Lakes basin.  Most of ascent is under tree cover, but once above treeline panoramic 360 views are guaranteed to leave you breathless.  Hike is described in K-country trail guide, 4th Edition Vol 1 and guaranteed to become more popular.  Outing is short and good candidate for snowshoe winter ascent.

Park at pull-out on right side of Smith-Dorrien, opposite Pocaterra day-use few kilometers past junction from K-lakes access road;  it will be shortly past large 180 bend.  Hike along Trans-Alta road past the gate, initially paralleling Smith-Dorrien, then turning left and away.  Ascent ridge comes in view shortly.  End of road is reached about 15-20 minutes from parking. Cross Kent creek before old dam by intake and find trail on the right side.  Initially trail ascends steeply, then levels couple of times before final rise to treeline.  It becomes faint couple of times, but flags always lead you in right direction; if in doubt, stay close to right (east) edge and you will pick it up again. Occasional openings in tree cover grant great views of King's Creek ridge on east side.  Treeline is reached about 1 hour from old dam;  trail transfers slightly left, and views open up so majestically you are guaranteed to reach for camera and have a breather.  Further up couple of rises lead to semi-open false summit, followed by dip to saddle and final rise to highest point of the ridge. This bit is rugged with narrowest part being slightly exposed, but short.  Ridge then widens again and leads within 5 minutes on grass towards summit cairn.  

It is possible to continue towards true summit of Mt. Lawson. Initial descent is rough, but manageable.  Stretch through forest with no trail leads to meadows that can be studied from Little Lawson.  However upper portion is cliffy and exposed and constitutes difficult scramble.