Frank Lake

Frank Lake is one of the best birding venues in the Calgary area.  

The lake, situated about 50 km southeast of Calgary, is a shallow slough typical of the grasslands of southern Alberta. Directions are given from the southern edge of Calgary where Hwy 2 intersects with Hwy 22X (the Marquis of Lorne Trail). 

To reach the lake, drive south on Highway 2 (Macleod or Deerfoot Trail south) until you reach Highway 23. At the junction with Hwy 23 (41.3 km), take the exit east towards Vulcan. At 47.3 km, the highway makes a 90° turn to the north. As you approach this corner slow down and watch for a sign and large gate on the right-hand side of the road. Following this gravel path will take you to an observation blind on the north edge of the lake.

See the map below for other viewing areas around the lake, and be aware some of the areas may be flooded in a wet spring.


From Greg Wagner:

Several people have asked me to put together a map showing various areas of Frank Lake.  The map below shows a variety of roads, parking areas and features around the lake.

The Dark Blue Line around the lake is a circuit that will take you around it using highway 23 and gravel roads. Good for travel outside the open water season, and it will take you around the lake to various basins and parking areas. Lots of wetlands around the lake which are always worth looking at.

Light Green Line – route into the west side of Basin 1, including the sewage outfall and observation blind.

Yellow line – trail into the northeast part of Basin 1. Should only be used in dry weather. Some prairie habitat at this spot.

Parking Area east part of Basin 1. Actually unsure if you can drive to this spot, but there is a large Frank Lake sign at the location.

Teal Line – is the trail around the south end of Basin 2. Fairly rough road which may be tough on small cars. Watch for the wet area south of Basin 4 when approaching from east. Do not drive on when wet, even if it is slightly wet. There is a stream crossing along the road at the Ducks Unlimited weir at the south end of the lake. The surface of this crossing is hardened and can be crossed even when water is present.

Red Line – trail into the northeast Bay of Basin 2.

Green Line – trail into the middle part of the trail around Basin 2. Use only during dry conditions. Not really recommended for travel.

Click on map for larger version


13 thoughts on “Frank Lake

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  2. Pingback: A Visit to Frank Lake | AIWC

    • There are no campgrounds right on the lake. The nearest camping is in the town of High River. As far as I know you wouldn’t be able to kayak on the lake. It is a protected breeding area for birds.

    • The lake is protected insofar as the wildlife is protected by legislation such as the Migratory Birds Convention Act and Wildlife Act and Regulation. The area is patrolled by Fish and Wildlife officers. It is not a provincial or any other kind of park and so no park legislation applies. Boating isn’t prohibited but is very difficult and is discouraged, which is why you never see anyone boating on the lake. Vegetation is so thick it’s difficult to move. Like trying to paddle through spaghetti. Dipping your paddle can be almost impossible. And, of course, you should not go anywhere where you can disturb nesting birds. About half the lake is covered by emergent vegetation (where most of the nests are) so you can’t paddle there. And the rest of the lake area is very difficult because of the reasons I mentioned above. The closest campground is in High River.

  3. I would like to observe swan migration this fall but not sure best places to go within 100 kms of Calgary. Please feel free to suggest. Much appreciated.


    • Both Tundra and Trumpeter Swans might be seen on any open body of water in the area from late September (Tundras) or early October (Trumpeters) through mid to late November. In the city, the best place to see them is Glenmore Reservoir. Chestermere Lake can also be good. Frank Lake stays open longer and can have big numbers of swans in November.

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