Be surrounded by amazing views, wildflowers, and wildlife. There are great hikes for all abilities. Make sure to get a permit well in advance of your trip to Lake O'Hara. Duration: Overnight.

Hidden deep in the Canadian Rockies is Lake O'Hara, a diamond among the rough peaks. Ten minutes drive east of a small town called Field in British Columbia, or sixty minutes west of Banff, Alberta; is a small parking lot where the adventure begins. A $25 return, 30 minute bus ride from there takes you to Lake O'Hara itself, you can opt to hike the unadventurous 11km trail. The real adventure starts at the lake with numerous day hikes.

Lake O'Hara is the trailhead for several hikes with all abilities, the Alpine trail is Advanced. Alpine Trail = 7.4km divided into 3 sections for shorter hikes. 5 + ½ hours round trip. Very steep terrain, rock ledges, route finding. Spring, Summer, Autumn for hiking and Winter for Snowshoeing or XC Skiing.

I took the bus in and camped for two nights, the first day exploring the Alpine Circuit trail with some of the worlds most breathtaking views with the highlight being the 'Yukness Ledges'. The second day I adventured up to Lake McArthur, undoubtedly one of the Blue-est lakes in the world, before relaxing by the campfire on the last morning and catching the bus out.

Lake O'Hara is one of the worlds most protected playgrounds, the views here unbelievable, you'll be pinching yourself the whole hike. The number of day hikers is restricted by Parks Canada so you can go a few hours before seeing another person, you'll be surrounded by wildlife, wildflowers and grand views.

You HAVE to book your trip exactly three months in advance and you will be on the phone for up to two hours just to try to get into this beautiful place. You have the option of staying at the Elizabeth Parker or Abbott Pass Huts as well, these are owned by the Alpine Club of Canada and can be even more challenging to book.

Pack List

  • 2-3 Liters of water
  • STRONG bug spray
  • Bear Spray
  • Lunch & Snacks
  • Camera
  • Petzl Headlamp
  • $$ for Carrot Cake, or two, or three.
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Mat
  • Food
  • Warm clothes
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Activities Camping, Photography, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Features
Lake
Scenic

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Amazing area

Unless you have a campground reservation or lodge reservation you'll have to hike in the 11km to the lake itself before you can start exploring (which is what we had to do) but every km was worth it. The entire area is unlike anything else we experienced in Yoho and the hike up Opabin Pass to the overlook was my favorite part. We were fortunate enough to catch the bus back out ($10 CAD per person) but if they can't fit you on the bus you'll have to hike. But the area is worth every step! GO!!

Sublime

Honeymooned at the nearby Emerald Lake Lodge and got our day pass at the Field station to explore Lake O’Hara. Absolutely sublime.

about 2 years ago

Magical!

I would definitely recommend Lake O'Hara! The camp grounds and the lodge book up quickly for the season and unless you have a booking, you can't catch the bus from the parking lot. I definitely wouldn't let that deter you though! A friend and I hiked the 11kms up to the Lake and it was beautiful. Once you're there there are plenty more hikes to explore or just take the loop around the lake. From there you are able to catch the bus back down but remember to bring cash and keep an eye on the time because if you miss the last bus (as we did) you'll be stuck hiking another 11kms back.


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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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