The South Lawson Peak in Kananaskis Country is full of amazing (read: jaw-dropping) views of the area. Lower Kananaskis Lake is easily seen from the mountainside, and views of King Creek Ridge towering above Highway 40 await. Winter, summer, or shoulder seasons—South Lawson is a great option!

South Lawson Peak in Kananaskis
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Looking at Lower Kananaskis Lake from the mountainside. (Photo: Carol McNaughton)

South Lawson Peak (or “Little Lawson”) has been on my radar for a while. Throughout the winter and shoulder season, I’ve seen several posts in the Hike Alberta Facebook group about this one. So when Carol and Hossein invited me out, I quickly suggested South Lawson which turned out to be a good choice. There are many worthwhile hikes in Kananaskis Country—this is definitely one of ’em!

About South Lawson Peak

South Lawson Peak views in Kananaskis Country
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Beautiful overcast day with a dusting of snow on the trees.

Location: Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country
Distance: 8 kilometres out and back
Difficulty: Difficult
Elevation: 770 metres gain
Time: 5 – 6 hours
Dog-friendly: Yes, but pets must be kept on leash.
Features: South Lawson Peak provides incredible views of the Kananaskis Lakes and the surrounding mountain landscape. This one is great for the views!

Know Before You Go

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Carol and Hossein on the return trip.

Hiking in Kananaskis Country in the shoulder season often means winter conditions. We hiked South Lawson in April but it felt like mid-December. That’s why it’s best to bring trail crampons, trekking poles, and even gaiters along with you. Shoulder season doesn’t really end until after May long weekend, so keep that in mind when you’re planning (and sometimes we see snow in June!).

South Lawson Peak is a really enjoyable (and tough!) summit, and you’ll have more fun if you’re prepared. We met one woman on the trail who was recovering from knee surgery. Not sure about you, but I wouldn’t recommend this strenuous hike as a first post-op option…. On a similar note, if you’re new to hiking or haven’t hiked to a summit, there are better options to ease you into the Rockies (like Tunnel Mountain in Banff, for instance).

Read more: 5 Easy Hikes for Rocky Mountain Rookies (Plus a Bonus!)

Finding the Trailhead

South Lawson Peak trailhead in Kananaskis
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South Lawson Peak is clearly visible at the beginning of the trail.

The trailhead for South Lawson is pretty easy to locate. If you’re driving from Calgary, it’ll likely take you around 2 hours. Drive down Highway 40 into Kananaskis Country until you reach Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Turn right off of Kananaskis Lakes Trail onto Hwy 742 (Smith Dorrien Trail). Then drive for about 2.5 kilometres to reach the parking area on the left. The trailhead for South Lawson Peak is just across the road.

Hiking the South End of Lawson

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The trail begins with a steep climb through the forest.

The stunning K-Country views make South Lawson an ideal day-trip. So this is one of those hikes that you want to do on a clear day. The sky was overcast when we arrived, but thankfully it cleared up. This would be a lovely hike on a clear summer day.

The trail starts off on flat terrain, but that doesn’t last long. From the parking area, cross the street to find the trailhead with a clear view of South Lawson Peak above. Continue along the trail until you reach the end of the flume, and then head into the woods to the right.

Did you miss leg day? Well, you’re in luck! This is where the trails becomes quite steep and the real workout begins. The trail continues up and up, but the promise of stunning views (and a snack or two) will keep you going. South Lawson trail gains about 770 metres in approximately 4 kilometres.

Read more: The King Creek Ridge Hike in Alberta—Great Winter Summit

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Catching a glimpse of the mountains through the trees.
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It doesn’t take long for breathtaking mountain views to appear.
South Lawson Peak winter hike in Alberta
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Trail crampons and poles are helpful in the shoulder season.
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Winter brings a different kind of beauty to Kananaskis.
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Closer look at Lower Kananaskis Lake.
Crossing the col on South Lawson Peak
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Crossing the col on South Lawson. Good spot for a photo!
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King Creek Ridge from the col.

Hiking to the False Summit

South Lawson Peak is a steep hike
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South Lawson is a steep hike—what a workout!

With lots of snow on South Lawson, we made it to the false summit. The trail becomes narrow past this point and a fall could be fatal. We decided to turn back. There was a bit more snow than I initially expected, but it gifted us with unique winter scenery. All in all, this was a great choice for an April hike. I’d definitely recommend South Lawson for any season when the conditions are right.

Read more: The Best Winter Hiking Gear To Keep You Happy Outdoors

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Views to the west from the mountaintop.
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Coming up to the false summit.
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Winter conditions on the false summit.
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We’re cold but happy!
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Always fun hiking with friends. (Photo: Hossein Talebi)

Other Kananaskis Country hikes you might enjoy:

Have you hiked South Lawson Peak in Kananaskis? Do you have other favourite Kananaskis hikes? Let me know in the comments below.

The South Lawson Peak Hike in Kananaskis is Amazing via @outandacross
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