Spray Lakes West to Sparrowhawk

Initially, the trail runs along the east side of Spray Lakes Reservoir to Driftwood day-use with some good views down the reservoir. It then crosses Highway 742 and traverses the mossy spruce forest uphill of the highway.

Spray Lakes West to Driftwood day-use area – 3.5 km

Walk 620 m across Three Sisters Dam. Turn right on Highway 742, then immediately right onto an access road leading to some picnic tables with views of Spray Lakes Reservoir.

The trail continues from the far end of the access road and traverses a narrow strip of land between the highway and Spray Lakes Reservoir with occasional views of the water. Watch out for speeding trucks spitting gravel onto the trail. On moving inland into the trees keep right at a split; left is the high water bypass. A stony area precedes your arrival at Driftwood day-use area at the boat launch access road.

Note: There is potential for avalanches from slopes above the road. Avoid this section when forecast avalanche Danger Level is High.

Driftwood day-use area to West Wind trail – 2.5 km

Cross the two legs of the boat launch road to an interpretive sign. Keep right and follow the trail out to the bank top above the reservoir. Pass numerous picnic tables, the main trail eventually turning left and up a hill to gain Highway 742 next to the access road. Cross the highway and climb into the forest.

Typical trail between Driftwood and Sparrowhawk

The trail winds uphill then settles into a very pleasant undulating traverse, en route crossing a stone avalanche and a bridge over a creek. It ends with a series of S-bends constructed for bikers. On reaching West Wind Pass trail turn right. (Left uphill leads to West Wind Pass.)

West Wind trail to Spencer Creek – 4.1 km

The route follows West Wind Pass trail downhill for 50 m, then only 50 m from the highway turns left and crosses the dry bed of an unnamed creek on a causeway. On the far side keep left. (Trail to right is another way down to the highway south of the culvert.)

Forbes Creek Grotto

Start winding and climbing. On gaining the top of a steep bank look down on Spurling Creek spring, the source of the shortest named creek in the Canadian Rockies. Continue uphill and along to a bridged crossing of a creek with a slabby bed.

The trail winds in and out of two more creeks; the second is bridged and signals the start of a long easy uphill. Cross an open rocky area and a few metres later a wide stony creek bed off the west face of Mount Lougheed. Then follows a long and tedious straight through mossy spruce forest below Little Lougheed. Shortly after crossing a spring creek, the trail descends to the bank top of a steep-sided draw where you meet a game trail. Down below is the birthplace of the photogenic creek met with on the Spencer Creek trail. Here the trail turns right and, intertwining with the game trail, winds down the bank top, at the last sweeping right and back left to cross the spring creek on a bridge. A few metres on is a 4-way junction with Spencer Creek to left and right. Go straight.

Spencer Creek to Forbes Creek – 1.1 km

Cross Spencer Creek on a bridge. The trail wanders uphill then more steeply descends to Forbes Creek. Cross on a bridge. From the far side it is possible to walk upstream to a rock step with grotto and seasonal waterfall.

Forbes Creek Grotto – 160 m

From the south bank of Forbes Creek follow flagging along the creek, crossing to the north bank about halfway along. Arrive in the creekbed below a vertical 50 ft high step. Scramble, paddle and rock-hop into the grotto where a seasonal waterfall courses down its moss-covered walls.

Forbes Creek to Sparrowhawk Tarns trail – 1.1 km

Leaving the bridge, the trail turns sharp right and starts climbing and undulating below Read’s Ridge all the way to the 4-way intersection with Sparrowhawk Tarns trail. Go straight. (Turn right to descend to Sparrowhawk day-use area in 750 m, turn left for Sparrowhawk Tarns