Total distance: 50 km
Elevation gain: ~1700 mView mapDownload GPS track
This trip was a re-do of two earlier trips that had ended prematurely: A trip to Three Isle Lake
cut short by a bad knee and a trip to Turbine Canyon
aborted due to a broken stove. Day hikes to Haig glacier and North Kananaskis Pass boosted the scenic rewards.
The trail to Turbine Canyon is straightforward and involves only one painful section - the ascent of an avalanche slope at the halfway point that is sweltering on a hot day. Water is available on the slope at a couple different points. From Turbine Canyon campground there are three scenic and easy trips, all of which can be completed in one day. The first, to the actual Turbine Canyon, is a two-minute walk downstream from the campground. Trails are on both sides of Maude Brook, but the one on the south side goes further along the canyon edge. The second trip is to North Kananaskis Pass and Maude Lake, 2.2 km to the west of the campground. The trail is again obvious and easy.
The third trip is to Haig glacier, where Canadian ski teams train during the summer months. The trail to get there starts on the north side of Maude Brook immediately before it plunges into Turbine Canyon. Initially the trail ascends through forest, but within 2 km emerges onto the (former) terminal moraine of Haig glacier. Visible ahead are the three huts of the ski team, right of the huts is a valley whose upper reaches hold Kananaskis glacier (or Smith-Dorrein glacier, depending on the map/book), and to the left of the huts is Haig glacier. We followed cairns towards the huts, then ascended the cairned trail that starts behind the huts. The skiers use this trail to access the glacier and it is in good shape; the ascent that appears steep and sketchy is actually very easy, although it is not the end of the trail nor the highpoint as it would first appear. The highpoint lies just 15 minutes further and not too much higher, at which point the trail descends to the glacier. A worthwhile side trip is up onto the southeastern shoulder of Mt. Jellicoe, easily accessed from the trail just north of the ski huts. Choosing your route carefully avoids any scrambling.
There are two routes from Turbine Canyon to Three Isle Lake: Over North Kananaskis Pass and up South Kananaskis Pass, or back down to the Forks and up the Three Isle Lake headwall. We chose the latter as the former involves bushwacking and route finding and didn't appear to offer any scenic advantage. (Update: Upon arriving back home I discovered that significant trail work had been done over the weekend and the Kananaskis passes route is likely in much better shape. See the Aug. 26, 2012 post on the Kananaskis Public Safety Facebook page
From Forks campground to Three Isle Lake is just 3.5 km, but involves the ascent of a formidable headwall. The trail is very good, however, and similar to the ascent on the trail to Turbine Canyon the only real problem is the heat on a hot day. South Kananaskis Pass lies just 2 km past the campground, but we chose to relax by the lake instead as the surrounding mountains were barely visible through the haze.