Snowshoe Frozen Toad and other new trails in Peter Lougheed Park

There’s still time to try out the new snowshoe/winter walking trails in lower Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. This well thought out network enables people on foot, with or without snowshoes, to create their own short and long loops starting from parking lots at Elk Pass, Boulton Bridge, Boulton Creek, Elkwood, William Watson Lodge, Canyon, the Discovery Centre and Pocaterra. With the exception of the last two (and James is working on that), all parking lots are interconnected which means that with two vehicles, even more options are available. The network also incorporates the new High Rockies winter trail for fat-tire bikers that connects the HRT at Hwy. 762 near Canyon Dam to the Elk Pass snowshoe/bike trail over Elk Pass into BC. All have red snowshoe markers or blue High Rockies signs.

Recently, we looked at Frozen Toad (8.1 km loop), Elkwood (3.4 km Loop) and the 2 km-long Tailwater that connects with Penstock Loop.

Frozen Toad True to its name, much of it follows flat boggy fens except for one hill at the mid point and one at the end or the beginning, depending on which way round you go. The hardest part is climbing over berms pushed up by snowplows on the Boulton Campground Road.  The greatest attractions are the all-around views from the west leg and from Marl Lake at the mid point, a small section shared with Elkwood Loop. Some diehards combine it with Torpor to make a 14.3 km figure of eight. Seats at Marl Lake.

Frozen Toad. The start to Elkwood Fen on the west leg.

Frozen Toad. Crossing the northwest corner of Marl Lake.

Frozen Toad. Crossing Packers ski trail in the draw.

Frozen Toad. The post with 6 red markers can be found at the junction of Frozen Toad and Torpor.

Start from Boulton Campground upper parking lot.

Elwood Loop The shortest way to Marl Lake is heavily trodden,  so you aren’t likely to need snowshoes, The loop’s  been around for  a few years, but now has a new start and finish that keeps you off the ski trails. The west leg uses campground roads which I found a little boring. The return trail, which uses in part the interpretive trail,  is a much pleasanter walk through pine forest and alongside meadows with views of Wintour. Seats at Marl Lake, on the interpretive trail and in the amphitheater.

Frozen Toad/Elkwood. Looking out over Marl Lake , a winter colour scheme of white, blue and black.

Elkwood. Leaving Marl Lake for the east leg of the loop.

Elkwood. Wintour from an east leg meadow..

Start from  Elkwood parking lot at the entrance onto Wheeler ski trail.

Tailwater  I really liked the start to this connector trail, the way it undulates across ridges with a flat stretch in the middle along  the original channel of the Kananaskis River,  hence the name Tailwater which  means  a waterway downstream from a dam. It’s a pity, then,  that the ending on penstock roads is so mundane, though I will admit that the  views are good. Use it to make a lollipop loop with Penstock  or transfer to Canyon which takes you to the Discovery Centre. Now all we want is a connector trail from the Discovery Centre  back to Pocaterra.

Tailwater. After crossing Kanananskis Lakes Trail and climbing up a ridge you get this rather unusual view of the climbing road and the descending trail headed for the first valley.

Tailwater starting the uphill climb to Lodgepole ski trail crossing.

The original channel of the Kananaskis River is hemmed in by steep banks.

Tailwater. Climbing out of the forest to the penstock roads at the red marker.


Start from the front of Pocaterra day lodge. Walk out onto the fen and turn right.

Torpor, another new trail, is described in an earlier blog post.

2 comments… add one
  • Linda Mar 31, 2019, 10:51 am

    Some friends and I tried Frozen Toad in late December of 2018. Perhaps due to the fact that the snow cover wasn’t deep yet, we found the new sections unpleasant. Lots of shrub twigs sticking out of the snow, tangling in our snowshoes, and some sections near the creek on the east leg weren’t frozen and had to be detoured. I would save doing this one again for later in the season, when the snow is really deep.

  • Jill johnston Mar 30, 2019, 10:34 pm

    I am so appreciative that these new trails have been developed. Over my last couple of trips to PLPP our group made a point to explore these new paths. We did get quite turned around at that multi direction sign post but we soon got ourselves sorted out.

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