Late Summer Picnic at the Beautiful Spray Lakes


Come on over, have a seat in one of our comfy chairs and share our picnic lunch with us as we enjoy a spectacular view of the Spray Lakes in Kananaskis Country.

After a Freak Early Blizzard, Summer Returns

Given the lovely sunshine and warm late summer temperatures we’ve been basking in this week, few would suspect that just last week we got hit with a huge blizzard which dropped some 20 cm of wet snow on Calgary! While it’s rare for us to see snow in the summer months or this early in September, it can certainly snow here in any month of the year. Happily, a quick return to summer-like temperatures made fast work of the unseasonable and unwelcome snowfall.

This past week my partner and I took advantage of the gorgeous weather and took off for a fun little day trip to the mountains of Kananaskis Country.

The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail

The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail, a scenic gravel road winding through Kananaskis Country, is one of our favourite mountain drives, even if it is a notoriously dusty road. It stretches from the town of Canmore, Alberta to Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, a distance of about 62 km. The road winds its way through the mountains, hugging the shores of the beautiful sparkling blue-green Spray Lakes and past many crystal clear mountain ponds and rivers. There are many great hiking trails to be found along the road. If you love the great outdoors, and particularly if you love wild backcountry hiking, mountain climbing, mountain biking, trail riding, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, this place is for you.


Here, you can see the The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail as it angles up the mountainside from behind the Town of Canmore, Alberta.


“Each man’s life represents a road toward himself.”

~ Herman Hesse


The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail winding up the mountainside, just south of Canmore.


A vista seen from the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail: looking down at the picturesque town of Canmore, nestled in the Bow River Valley of the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The beautiful blue mountain lake is the reservoir for the town’s water supply.

Grassi Lakes

The Grassi Lakes are two beautiful turquoise blue lakes located just south of Canmore, along the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail. If you look carefully at the upper left of the image below, you can see a family enjoying a picnic. The Grassi Lakes are reached by a scenic 4 km hike.



What makes these mountain waters turquoise?

Particles in water can scatter light. The Colorado River is often muddy red because of suspended reddish silt in the water. Some mountain lakes and streams containing finely ground rock, such as glacial flour, are turquoise. Light scattering by suspended matter is required in order that the blue light produced by water’s absorption can return to the surface and be observed. Such scattering can also shift the spectrum of the emerging photons toward the green, a color often seen when water laden with suspended particles is observed.

~ Wikipedia

Whitemans Pond


Spray Lakes

The Spray Lakes were once a string of separate lakes along the Spray River, which were united when the river was dammed, forming the Spray Lakes Reservoir. The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Lakes Trail winds along the perimeter of one side of this beautiful chain of lakes. The views are stunning.


“In the mountain, stillness surges up to explore its own height.
In the lake, movement stands still to contemplate its own depth.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore


Spectacular Vistas

After the September long weekend, most picnic areas in the backroad parts of the parks are closed for the winter. While we can’t drive into the picnic sites, we are still able to walk in to enjoy the beautiful vistas and have a little picnic. It just means parking along the road and walking in a ways to the picnic areas, which works out perfectly for us, as we get to be all alone at our favourite spots overlooking the spectacular vistas of the Spray Lakes.



Late afternoon light on the Spray Lakes creates beautiful receding tonal gradations.


Image Credits:

All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife; © 2012 and 2014 madlyinlovewithlife


12 thoughts on “Late Summer Picnic at the Beautiful Spray Lakes

  1. It is a beautiful place a picnic of end of summer.
    Marvellous photographs, I like the reflections.
    You live a beautiful region.
    Congratulations with the photographer.
    Good weekend. Herve

  2. Hello Jeannie,
    What a fantastic series. Of course I remember the post on your previous trip to the mountains in Kananaskis Country, and it’s wonderful to see more views of this stunning place. It also seems to be without too much weekend/summer crowds which makes it even better :) It must be a nice feeling to ‘lose’ yourself to the surroundings, and simply take in everything.

    Once again, I am awed by all the natural beauty the world has to offer. You live in a beautiful region, and I’m so glad you’re sharing some of it with us. Have a perfect weekend!

    • Hello Takami! Thank you! Although there are definitely more people around in summer and on weekends, there are never any crowds to speak of in Kananaskis Country. We are fortunate as we are often able to go the mountains mid-week, when there are even less people. On this particular trip, we only ran into one other person as we walked in one area just off the Spray Lakes road. Mostly, we just passed two or three empty vehicles parked on the road beside some of the more popular trailheads. And there were no other people at all at our favourite picnic area–we had the whole place to ourselves! Well, we did share it with the birds, butterflies, squirrels and chipmunks! I must admit, it’s pure bliss to be able to take in this kind of scenery all alone, just the two of us surrounded by all this beauty.

      This world truly is filled with so much beauty and one of the things I love most about the internet is that it gives us the technology to easily partake of the endless beauty found around the globe through the lens of countless wonderful photographers like yourself. Thank you again, Takami, for your comment. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and upcoming week! :)) ~ Jeannie

  3. It looks like a wonderful area that I unfortunately have not visited yet…It’s certainly on my list! Hope your having a great weekend Jeannie…. We are trying to get some harvesting done but the weather has other plans!! I fear we will be at it till the end of Oct..Hope that sun keeps shining for at least another month!! Take care my friend..

  4. Your photos are just incredibly sharp and beautiful, Jeannie. I am glad you referenced the turquoise color, because that was what I first noticed. The blue is so brilliant! I can imagine that walking the trails would be exhilarating in such spectacular natural beauty. I wasn’t familiar with Spray Lakes and I would love to visit one day. It looks to me like you’re drinking in as much of the pleasure of the area as you can before winter comes riding in! It is truly very special. I’m glad you introduced me to it. :-)

    • Thanks Debra! The Spray Lakes area is part of Kananaskis Country, a 4,000 square kilometer area of foothills and mountains adjacent to Banff National Park and it’s full of endless places to explore. Most tourists make a beeline for the towns of Banff and Lake Louise, which are also beautiful, but crowded in high season. If you want more of a quiet backcountry experience with less people and majestic views, then Kananaskis Country is well worth exploring. Wishing you a great week ahead! :))

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