Barrier Lake Lookout/Praire View Trail - Hike

Your effort on this trail will rewarded with stunning views that span a great distance across some mountain peaks and a little bit of prairie.

Difficulty: strenuous
Round trip:  11.5 km
Hiking Time: 3.5 - 4.5 hrs
Elevation Gain: 550 m
FitBit: approx 17,000 steps and 181 flights of stairs

Marked: Yes
Facilities: Yes
How to get there: From Calgary drive west on Hwy 1. Take exit 118 to Kananaskis Country/Hwy 40. Drive approximately 8.7 km on Hwy 40 and turn right into the Barrier Lake Day Use Area (not the visitor center). The lake will be on your left as you drive in and your trail is at the west end of the parking lot.
Click map for directions from Calgary
Follow the trail highlighted in purple.
As you begin your trek west across the dam you immediately have mountain and lake views worth your drive out. The trail you are on is called Prairie View according to the green metal map provided by the park. It's a fire road that you will be traveling on so it's nice and wide all the way. You soon enter into the cover of the trees and begin a steady and gradual ascent. There are no views through the foliage and no significant reprieve from the incline, however at a steady pace and taking breaks as needed it's more than doable.

No route explanations are necessary on this trail, whenever you appear to come to a significant junction there will be a map to direct you. However, do note that as you travel higher there are long switchbacks where some hikers have chosen to make their own path by going straight up instead. So where there appears to be a fork you have a choice between a gradual incline or a 'shortcut' that will bring you to the same destination. For myself I always choose the wider, more trodden path :)

Around the time you begin to wonder how much farther, you are closer than you know and without warning you arrive at the first amazing lookout. Out of the trees the wind can be harsh, but this is a good place to stop for a bite (the ground here will be more comfortable than the rocks higher up). Once you are ready to go again don't turn around, keep forging ahead as it's only approximately another 10 - 20 minutes to the next summit.

The trail does steepen briefly and right near the top there is a rock band that requires sure footing and extra caution if it's wet, but it is worth it! When you see the big 'movie screen' as some call it, you'll know you've made it so give yourself a pat on the back and enjoy the view you worked so hard to see!

-At what appears to be the summit and the end of the trail there are signs that point your way downward, but I do not have details for that. There is also an option to continue upwards to a fire lookout, but I have no details for that yet either. Next time!
-The trees will keep you out of the wind and sun for the majority of the hike, but when you are walking by the lake and at the summit the wind can be strong and chilly so ensure to dress in layers.
-This is a busy place on weekends and the parking lot fills up fast. If you like solitude while hiking, this is not the trail for you, else you better wake up with the sun.
-This is also a popular trail for mountain bikers so keep watch as they travel fast.  

Happy Hiking!