The Jewell Bay Backcountry Campground Hike
Bow Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis, Alberta
The hike to the Jewell Bay starts by going south on Highway #40 into Kananaskis. Within 10 minutes or so you'll a sign for the Barrier Dam Day Use Area on your right, pull in and find a parking spot to begin the hike. The hike takes you along the shoreline of Barrier Lake for most of the way, giving you great views of the Kananaskis mountains. The trail remains mostly flat the entire way, with the elevation gain under 100 meters. It's also worth noting that Jewell Bay is home to a backcountry campground. The campground is open year round except from April 15 - June 15 for spring elk movement.
The trail starts by hiking on a service road for a station at the dam, so you're hiking on a flat gravel road for the first half kilometer or so. This area is wide open too, with no trees or shade, so it could make for a hot day if done in the summer.
You'll come to a trail junction after hiking a total of 1.1 kilometers, and to get to Jewell Bay go left. Right would take you up to the Barrier Lake Fire Lookout, but that's another hike for another time. This part of the trail will take you through a forest with both pine trees and deciduous, which let you know that you're really only just barely inside the mountains.
As the trail gets closer to the lake again, there'll come a time where it starts to head back up towards the forest. You can opt to take a trail marked by a sign that follows the lake shore. I like to do this because the views by the lake are excellent.
Once you re-link back up with the main trail, Jewell Bay isn't much further. You'll go up a slight incline, and then you'll see a bridge. This bridge means the entrance to the backcountry campground at Jewell Bay is only 100 meters or so. The entrance to the campground takes you down to the lake, and Jewell Bay. To obtain a permit from Alberta Parks to camp at Jewell Bay, click HERE.
While in the campground you can opt to have a picnic, snack, or relax. Remember to pack out all garbage and leave no trace.
Once you're ready, head back the way you came. When you arrive back at the Barrier Dam, you've completed the hike! This hike is great to do with your family, and I'd say it's also good for kids as well.
Watch a video of the hike below!