Finally got to try out three new official snowshoe trails in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park.: Elkwood Loop, Marsh Loop and the connector to William Watson Lodge. While each is quite short , 3.3 km, 1.9 km and 860 m respectively, they can be joined together to make a 6.9 km loop from Elkwood parking lot. Good enough for a half day outing for novice snowshoers. The trails were well-stamped out with red snowshoe markers in all the right places except in the William Watson Lodge parking lot.
Start from Wheeler trail across from the parking lot biffy. First we went clockwise around Elkwood Loop and were pleasantly surprised by the narrow trail through the trees, that uses campground access trails and part of the Marl Lake interpretive trail. The trail then heads out on its own and approaches Marl Lake from the east. As you would expect, the section along the lake edge is the highlight, offering mountain views in all directions. Then forsaking the interpretive trail, the route climbs up the trail’s one hill onto D loop. And this is where the route becomes boring in its use of flat campground access roads back to the start. Such a pity.
The connecting trail to William Watson Lodge crosses the park road south of the William Watson Lodge access road and is a nice narrow trail that in part runs along a bank top. After crossing the powerline right of way you end up in the William Watson Lodge parking lot. Now what.? The snowshoe map shows it joining with Marsh Loop before you get to the parking lot. We spent time searching in vain for ongoing red markers, as had a lot of other snowshoers. We eventually discovered that Marsh Loop starts from the other side of the lodge. So what you do is plod to the other end of the parking lot, then follow the trail past the front of the lodge to—what do you know?—a red marker! So the map needs a little adjustment.
Marsh Loop descends a dell onto Bill Bensen trail where it loops. We went clockwise, enjoying the open valley that led to Lower Kanananskis Lake where the wind was blowing bitterly cold. You return along Bill Bensen trail. Unless you are staying at a cabin, keep going straight until you get back to the dell trail you started out on. The first few metres are calf stretchers! Are there steps here in summer?