Allstones Lake – Adventure in Bighorn Backcountry

Allstones Lake is one of my family’s favorite day hikes in David Thompson Country. Even though it’s just over 13 kilometres round trip if you include the peak, it’s a challenging hike and you should plan to make a full day of it. The journey to this pristine lake is a steep uphill climb with beautiful views along the way. While it can be busy with hikers during the daytime, if you stay overnight, you might get the lake almost to yourself.

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Allstones Lake Trailhead

An image of the Allstones Lake Trailhead in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada.
The trailhead for Allstones Lake is well-signed. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.
An image of the Allstones Lake trail marker in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada.
A trail marker for the Allstones Lake Trail. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.

The Allstones Lake trail is well marked on the David Thompson Highway – about an 80-minute drive southwest of Rocky Mountain House. You can park at Abraham Lake – across from the trailhead. The trail is in an area of Alberta known as Bighorn Backcountry. It’s a beautiful mountainous region of public lands east of Banff National Park and Jasper National Park.

Related: Read our post about the Siffleur Falls and Meadow Hike, another beautiful hike along the David Thompson Highway in Bighorn Backcountry.

Abraham Lake

With a surface area of almost 54 square kilometres, Abraham Lake is Alberta’s largest man-made reservoir. The massive lake was created by the Bighorn Dam. The lake gets its beautiful blue color from glacial rock flour. As you make the climb up to Allstones Lake, there are several points where you can look back and take in the view of this beautiful blue lake and span the horizon from windy point to Mount Michener and all the surrounding mountains in-between.

Related: Abraham Lake is famous for its winter ice bubbles. Read our post, Abraham Lake – Ice Bubble Heaven.

An image of a man with his arms up looking at the view along the Allstones Lake Trail in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada.
The views of Abraham Lake and the surrounding mountains are fantastic along the Allstones Lake trail. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Things to Know about the Allstones Lake Trail

The first three-quarters of this hike is very steep. The trail winds through forest and there are places that open up to spectacular views of Abraham Lake and the surrounding mountains. Make sure to stop along the way to take in the fantastic views. Once you reach the top of the ridge, the trail forks. The left trail leads towards the closest end of the lake. Take the left trail and walk down the gentle slope to Alltones Lake. Once you arrive, you can soak your feet in the cool water or hike around the lake shore. If you take the right trail, it will fork again and you can take it to the peak above Allstones Lake or to the far end of the lake. From the peak you will have views of Abraham Lake in one direction and views of Allstones Lake in the other direction.

An image of the Allstones Lake trail - a steep section - in Alberta, Canada.
The Allstones Lake trail is very steep most of the way. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.
An image of a small bridge crossing on the Allstones Lake trail in Bighorn Backcountry in Alberta, Canada.
Depending on the time of year, there may or may not be water under this little bridge. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.
An image of wildflowers on the Allstones Lake Trail in Bighorn Backcountry in Alberta, Canada.
Watch for wildflowers before you get above the treeline. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.
An image of a person sitting on a rocky viewpoint above Abraham Lake in Alberta, Canada.
From the peak, you get a beautiful view of Abraham Lake in one direction. Photo by Brady Olsen.
An image of mountains in Bighorn Backcountry in Alberta, Canada.
If you look the other direction from the peak, you can see Allstones Lake and the surrounding mountains. Bighorn Backcountry is stunningly beautiful. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.

Camping at Allstones Lake

There are several backcountry campsites near the shore of the lake and a primitive bathroom. Allstones Lake is stocked with Brook Trout. and you can try your luck -if you have a fishing license. There can be a lot of day hikers into Allstones Lake, but few people stay overnight. The lake is extremely quiet in the evening and early morning.

More Great Hiking Trails in David Thompson Country: Read our post, Crescent Falls Hike – Family Fun in Summer and Winter.

An image of a campsite on the shore of Allstones Lake in Alberta, Canada.
This is a look at one of the campsites on the shore of Allstones Lake. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.
An image of a woman holding a brown trout at Allstones Lake in Alberta, Canada.
If you camp overnight, you’ll have time to do some fishing in Allstones Lake. Photo by Brady Olsen.
An image of a man walking around the shoreline of Allstones Lake in Alberta, Canada.
It’s a pretty walk around the shoreline of Allstones Lake. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.

Hiking Tips for Allstones Lake

Most of the Allstones Lake trail is a very steep climb and hiking poles can be helpful. Take plenty of water. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. On one of our hikes in July, we encountered snow – though it was sunny at the trailhead. There are a few sections with loose shale and a little scrambling may be required. Good hiking boots can make a huge difference.

An image of a man laying in a hammock.
A hammock is a luxury item we like to take on camping trips. Photo by Carleigh Olsen.

Allstones Creek – Another Hike for Another Day

The Allstones Creek hike is an easy day hike that allows you to walk up a creek bed to a beautiful waterfall. It’s particularly enjoyable on a hot day when you can swim in the creek and the falls. Note: It’s too much to attempt to hike Allstones Creek and Allstones Lake in a single day.

An image of two men near a waterfall on the Allstones Creek hike in Bighorn Backcountry, Alberta, Canada.
Allstones Creek is a nice easy day hike that is particularly fun on a hot summer day. Photo by Greg Olsen.

Where to Stay

If you want to stay overnight, there is a small wilderness campground at Allstones Lake with a primitive outhouse. Bring your own toilet paper and hand santizer. If you wish to stay in the area for additional nights, Two O’Clock Creek Campground in nearby Kootenay Plains Plains Provincial Recreation Area is a good option. Other non-camping options include Aurum Lodge, David Thompson Resort or HI Nordegg Hostel.

An image of Alan and Madeleine Ernst outside Aurum Lodge - Abraham Lake, Alberta
Aurum Lodge is a lovely B&B lodge near Abraham Lake and Alan and Madeleine Ernst are wonderful hosts. Photo by GREG OLSEN

Summit Three Peaks in a Single Day: Read our post, Heart Mountain Hike – Big Adventure Near Canmore.

2 thoughts on “Allstones Lake – Adventure in Bighorn Backcountry

  1. CoraLee Reply

    Hello, thank you for this helpful article! Wondering about some more details wrt the creek trail – I am having trouble finding more information about it. Considering a hike up to the lake, staying overnight and then doing a day hike the following day to the creek. Is it well marked? Do we just follow the creek?

    1. wanderwoman Reply

      Thanks for your comment. Glad you liked the Allstones Lake article. You can’t access the Allstones Creek trailhead from Allstones Lake. You access it from the Highway. The creek is just to the left of the Allstones Lake trailhead. It flows under the highway out to Abraham Lake. Hike along the creek bed to get to the falls. It’s a short 20-minute hike to the falls – depending on how high the creek is. There is no formal trail – it’s just the creek bed. If the water is high, you might get your feet wet. You could do this hike after the Allstones Lake hike. Stow your gear in the car, get your water shoes on and take a walk along the creek bed to the falls. Swimming in the falls feels really good after the hike. Let us know how everything goes. We love Allstones Lake and we hope you have a great trip.

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