Blog And Tips -

Hiking and Fishing Rawson Lake (2021)



A few of us from Zinger Fishing hiked up to Rawson Lake last week to see what kind of action we could get on the old fly rod. We heard from friends that the cutthroat trout can get to a decent size and their colors are amazing due to the cold mountain water. We packed up the Ford Ranger and headed out to the Kananaskis area.


How long of a hike is it to Rawson Lake?

The hike from the parking lot at the Upper Kananaskis Lake to Rawson Lake is 3.9km. In total, you are looking at 7.8km and the elevation is 320m / 1,050 ft.

It took us around 2 hours to get to the lake and about an hour and a bit to get back to the truck.


Is it a hard hike to Rawson Lake?

There is a stretch that is decently slopped, but all in all, the hike is pretty simple. It is a very well travelled path, so you won’t be alone out there! There were plenty of children and different sized dogs that were able to make it.

The trail was muddy at the end of September, so be sure to wear adequate hiking boots. There are stumps, roots, and rocks that you will be walking over.


What is the temperature like at Rawson Lake?

Mountain lakes are always colder than the parking lots you start out at. It is very smart to dress warm and bring extra layers. The lake water is freezing cold, so don’t plan on going into it!


What kind of fish are in Rawson Lake?

Cutthroat trout and lots of them. They have a very cool red color on their stomachs. As for size, we caught a few upwards of 2 pounds, but I’m guessing there are some large trout in the lake.

The fish were jumping really well which is perfect for breaking out the dry fly patterns.

The lake is catch and release and you do need a valid Alberta fishing license.


What fly patterns work in Rawson Lake?

We caught fish on Adams and grey caddis dry flies, green chironomids, and tan colored scuds. There were a few small caddis like flies that we tried to match and it ended up working out! We caught the most on the Adams though, you can’t go wrong with a classic fly pattern!

These fly patterns and more can be found in the Zinger Fishing store.


Is it hard to cast from the shoreline?

The majority of the lake has tall and thick trees right up to the water which makes casting a fly rod brutal. If you are using a spinner rod, you can fish from pretty much anywhere on this lake.

The SW corner of the lake is best for casting a fly rod. Right where the main trail ends, the tall trees also end and the area opens right up.


Safety is key!

Remember, these wilderness mountain hikes can be dangerous due to the terrain, weather, and wildlife. Be sure to tell a friend or family member where you are going and when you will be checking back in with them.

  • Wear good boots
  • Wear and bring extra hiking clothing
  • Bring bear spray and other wildlife deterrents
  • Bring plenty of water and snacks


Is it worth the hike?

We had a great time and we definitely recommend this hike and the fishing at Rawson Lake. If you can go out during the week, it would be less busy than the weekends. The lake is beautiful, as with the mountains and trees. We will be sure to do this adventure again as it was a blast!


If you like reading about fly fishing, our Zinger Fishing blog has a wide variety of different articles. We cover places to fish, what patterns to use, techniques, gear, and everything else to help fellow anglers land more fish in their nets.