4 to 6 hours / 11.5 return
at the Chester Lake parking lot located on the east side
of gravel highway #40 Smith Dorrien Spray Lakes road 46km's south of Canmore
across from the Burstall Pass parking lot. Note, Gravel road access only.
Recommended for experienced hikers only.
Locate the trail head on the far left(ne) side of the Chester Lake parking lot.
If you decide to do the
Chester Lake loop the trailhead to Headwall Lakes is located on the
right(se) side of the parking lot. More details regarding the loop can be found
Follow the trail to Chester Lake. Hike past the lake and follow the trail as it
ascends the left side of the headwall. Continue on another
2km's or so then
ascend the steep scree slope to the col located below Fortress
Once you arrive at the col follow the scree trails to the summit of Fortress
Mountain. There is a short 3 meter cliff band located just below the summit that
is considered an
easy scramble with good footing on small ledges however the summit is exposed to
a 900 meter cliff dropping straight down it's north face. Resist the urge to
take a photo of Fortress Lake located below. The cliff edge looks loose and
fractured. Expect 6-8 hours to do the full 20km loop and
Fortress Mountain. See
Lakes for more information regarding the loop. If you just want to summit Fortress
Mountain, Chester Lake is a shorter route.
Local campgrounds include
Bow Valley Campground,
Lac Des Arc
Bow River Campground,
Three Sisters Campground
Mount Kidd. Trailheads to
Elbow Lake to
Rawson Lake are all located near here. You are in bear country