68 photos

Greg, Erin, Jenn, and Shawn at Commonwealth LakeGreg, Erin, Jenn, and Shawn at Commonwealth Lake
Commonwealth Lake Snowshoe
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country
April 16, 2012

The snowshoe trail to Commonwealth Lake is a fairly easy excursion that can be done in a few hours. On a clear day, you can extend the trip up to the east ridge of Commonwealth Peak for a panoramic view of the valley. In winter, the trail begins about 2km south of the Mount Shark/Engadine Lodge Road on the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Road. This area is popular in winter as there are opportunities to extend the trip further along Commonwealth Creek and to Smuts Pass. Its likely there isn't a proper parking area here because the bottom of the valley is a broad floodplain for the Smith-Dorrien Creek, which would make crossing this in the summer a bit of a challenge. Jenn, Shawn, and their friends Erin and Greg made the trip on a snowy April Sunday.

The trail is a shared ski and snowshoe trail for the most part. In most places there is enough room for separate ski and snowshoe trails, and as we were the first people snowshoeing the trail since the last snowstorm, we ended up breaking trail most of the way up. After about 500m the trail splits - the right fork follows Commonwealth Creek, while the left fork climbs steadily through the forest and over a ridge toward Commonwealth Lake. We took the left fork on the way up, and to make a bit of a loop, we came back via the drainage from Commonwealth Lake, which met up with Commonwealth Creek, and ended up on the right fork trail.

Trip Length: 5.5 km
Cumulative Ascent/Descent: ~425m
Winter Parking for Commonwealth Creek is on the side of the road about 2km south of the Mount Shark turnoff.Winter Parking for Commonwealth Creek is on the side of the road about 2km south of the Mount Shark turnoff.The winter trail begins on the side of the road and crosses the broad Smith-Dorrien Creek floodplainErin tried, unsuccessfully, to slide down the slope.Jenn, Gregg, and Erin making their way down the initial slope.Commonwealth Creek ski/snowshoe trail on the south side of the valley.Erin on the Commonwealth Creek Trali.Greg and Jenn on the Commonwealth Creek Trail.Greg, Jenn, and Erin working their way up the Commonwealth Creek Trail. The Fist [2630m] is on the left, and Tent Ridge [2545m] is on the right.After a long gradual slope, the trail steepened substantially up into the forest.Looking across the valley toward The Tower and Mount Engadine from the trail to Commonwealth Lake.The trail goes up!Jenn on the trail to Commonwealth Lake.Erin found some Old Man's Beard.Jenn with some Old Man's Beard.Jenn with some Old Man's Beard.Jenn wasn't trying to eat the lichen.Jenn wasn't trying to eat the lichen.Shawn with the Old Man's Beard.Shawn with the Old Man's Beard.