Backpack to Michelle Lakes

11.2 miles 7545.9 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Tiffany Fernyhough

Camping at 2300m next to two gorgeous, glacier fed, alpine lakes. What a spectacular reward for a long days hike.


Owen Creek located by the East Banff National Park Boundary on the David Thompson Highway (#11). There is no sign for Owen Creek so keep you eyes open for a pullout approximately 2kms east of the Banff National Park toll gate. You will find the trail to the right of the creek when facing upstream.

Other descriptions indicate that this hike is 13kms, however our Garmin Phoenix 2 watch showed that we had hiked 18km from car to campsite. 


Owen Creek itself is a beautiful day hike flowing through bright blue pools and waterfalls. Keep right as you follow the creek higher into the alpine. The trail runs in and out of the woods and can be hard to pick up, keep an eye out for rock cairns. Eventually the trail dips into the creek again and you continue to follow this until it runs dry. After approximately 10km from the trail head, a vast alpine landscape opens up. Boulder hop your way towards the meadows (work your way forward to the ridge line in front). You can choose to go up a ridge spine or stay down in the col, both will lead you to the meadows. In the col there is less of a steep descent. Here the boulders are reduced to rubble and you begin your descent to Upper Michelle Lake.

Camp + Activities

We chose to follow the left bank of the Upper lake. This led to a clearing and waterfall that flowed down into Lower Michelle Lake.

Choose your campsite wisely as this location is extremely windy - we camped next to the top of the waterfall. This offered stunning views and easy access to both lakes. We also built rock walls to shelter our tents from the wind. 

Should you wish to make a campfire, do be aware of the wind and practice Leave No Trace principles throughout your journey. You will need to bring firewood with you as there is very little vegetation by the lakes. 

This is a popular destination for heli-fishing as anglers try their hand at catching the Golden Trout. Michelle Lakes is also home to herds of Big Horn Sheep! 

Read More




Leave a Review

Overall rating: 

Great Backcountry Adventure

The camping trip to the lakes, was an unforgettable experience and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a backcountry experience. Well written.

Nearby Adventures

  • Hike Mount Cline

    Starting 105 miles (169kms) from Rocky Mountain House, the trailhead for this hike begins across the highway from Thompson Creek Campground. There is a grassy area to park and the path extends obviously on the east side of the creek.The initial 2....

    18 miles 7591 ft gain

  • Ice Climbing at Balfour Wall

    Drive up the Icefields Parkway (Highway 93N) for 60 km. From there you will see a small rest stop like parking lot. From there the trail is quite obvious.The trail is short, but very steep. It shouldn't take more than 45 minutes to arrive at the c...

  • Mount Coleman Scramble

    This is an amazing hike takes you through the beautiful Sunset Meadows to a towering scramble of Mount Coleman. The 10,000ft peak offers up a challenging scrambling section for a rewarding view of Banff National Park.The trailhead is at the Sunset...

  • Ice climb Two O'Clock Falls

    Park at the "Siffleur Falls Trail Staging Area" parking lot on the east side of the highway. From there you will need to carefully cross the highway to the West side. The waterfall is visible from the highway. There is a gated road that you will ...