The Northover Ridge route is one of the most spectacular backpacking trips in the Kananaskis area. There are even people of questionably sanity, like myself, that will complete the route in a single day. The hike is approximately 40km in length and has a net gain of 1760m in elevation.
There are two options for starting locations for this hike. You can either start at the North Interlakes parking area or Upper Kananaskis Lake parking area. I would recommend starting at the North Interlakes parking area as you will be able to get the longer flat section done in no time while your legs are fresh. You will thank yourself by the end of the day! I know I was sure happy to have completed that section in the morning.
Section 1: North Interlakes to Aster Lake Campground
The first section of the Northover Ridge route involves a long hike around two thirds of Kananaskis Lake. This is easy hiking as you are parallel to the shore the entire way. The views are great and the weather is generally quite calm first thing in the morning.
Starting from the Interlake parking area follow the trail along the lake heading south east towards the Upper Kananaskis Lake parking area, essentially looping Upper Kananaskis Lake in a clockwise fashion. Once you are past the Upper Kananaskis Lake area your next intersection will be for Rawson Lake on your left, continue again past this location as you make your way towards your turn off towards Hidden Lake. This will be on your left hand side.
Once you leave the main trail around Upper Kananaskis Lake the terrain gets a little more complicated to navigate, lucky for you though, Friends of Kananaskis was hard at work last summer (2015) restoring this section. You will hind yourself meandering through the forrest within eyeshot of hidden lake, after which you will begin to climb towards Aster Lake.
I was lucky to have a fresh coat of snow that made for spectacular views throughout this section. Keep in mind I completed this hike in August, which serves as a stern reminder that we can get all four seasons ever season in the Canadian Rockies. I was very happy to have micro-spikes and hiking poles!
After you cross the creek you will find yourself very close to the campground. There are bear proof lockers, tent pads, and an outhouse available at this stop.
Section Two: Aster Lake Campground to Three Isle Lake Campground
From the Aster Lake campground you will continue along the trail towards Aster Lake itself. The trail wraps around the south shore of the lake before spitting you up the gap between Warrior Mountain and Mount Northover.
This is where the climbing gets most serious. From this point you will start to work your way up the backside of Mount Northover before making your way onto the ridge itself.
After navigating the final section of the ridge you will drop down before the ridge starts ascending up to the peak of Mount Worthington (seen in the distance above). You will see a rock shelter when you start your descent. The first part of the descent is obvious but the trail can become less obvious when you reach the bottom. Keep you eyes peeled for cairns. I took a bit of a creative route at this point as I was too busy gawking at my surroundings. Worst case scenario, however, just keep waking till you hit Three Isle Lake.
Once you hit the lake the trail skirts the south shore as you head east towards the campground.
Section Three: Three Isle Lake Campground to Interlakes Parking Area
After leaving the campground you have a short climb before a long descent to the valley bottom. Once in the valley your hike will remain mainly level as you make you way back to the parking area. If you are completing this in a single day then this will likely be the long tedious part of the journey; you have left the spectacular alpine views and still have many km’s through the trees.