Hike the Mountain Lakes Trail (Heiko's Trail)

Heiko's Trail Parking

Only ~120 people hike the full (24km) length each year. Crossing 3 mountain passes with constant 360 views, expect waterfalls, ladders, caves and alpine meadows filled with wildflowers along your adventure.

Finished in 2003 by Fernie legend Heiko Socher, Mountain Lakes Trail (aka Heiko’s Trail) is about as good as it gets. This hike is not for the inexperienced hiker. You are way out in the backcountry with little to no other human contact. This is grizzly bear and cougar country so make sure to bring bear spray and travel in a group. There is no cell service. The hike is typically accessible in late June into October but the best time to check it out is mid august when the wildflowers are in full bloom and the weather is stable. 

This hike is a point to point, so plan accordingly. Most people start at Hartley Lake Road and end at Island Lake Lodge. Start by dropping a car at Island Lake Lodge (49.6284, -115.0739), located in Mt. Fernie Provincial Park. Drive through the campground and follow the signs up the gravel road (7km past the campground). Then head back through town and up Hartley Lake Road (via Dicken Road, off Highway 3). The first parking lot is about 15km up this road. If you have a vehicle with high ground clearance you can take the much less traveled and rutted out road up to the second parking lot, about 1500m further. This is where the sign signifying the trail head. 

The hike begins with a steep 2km section that gains a headwall which passes a beautiful forested waterfall, Bisaro cave and Bisaro canyon. Make sure to stop to explore and take lots of pictures! Continue into the first alpine meadow that climbs between Mt. Bisaro and Three Sisters mountain. This will bring you to the top of a ridge where there is the optional scrabble up three sisters mountain (500m elevation gain over 2km) for amazing views of the town of Fernie and Elk valley. Highly recommended. Follow the trail signs and descend into Fairy Meadows. Be ready for fields of wildflowers! There are many places to camp in these meadows but remember that wildlife also like to wander in these areas. 

Eventually you will begin climbing up to Windy Pass on Mt. Fernie. Near the top you will find another alpine meadow which is great for camping with spectacular views. Once you reach the pass you descend the western face of Mt. Fernie to Tamarak trail overlooking Cedar Valley. The last 4km descends towards to Island Lake Lodge where you can enjoy a cold beer and amazing burger on their patio. Well earned! 

It is important to pack for sudden weather changes as this frequently occurs in the alpine. Leave no trace camping is also in effect. The trail can be completed in one long day (8-10 hours) but is much more enjoyable to be split into two, shorter days. It should be of note that there is fresh water along the first half of the trail but very little in the last 10km so plan for this.  

Pack List

  • Backpack 
  • Good hiking boots 
  • Trekking poles
  • Warm layers - the alpine cools off at night
  • Bear spray 
  • First aid kit
  • Camera 
  • Tripod 
  • Tent
  • Sleeping pad 
  • Sleeping bag
  • Water/water purification system - there is no fresh water source in the second half of the trail 
  • Sunscreen 
  • Toilet paper 
  • Headlamp
  • Fire starter
  • Good friends  
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RT Distance 14.9 Miles
Elevation Gain 6889.8 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Advanced
Season Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Forest
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Awesome

I hiked to the Three Sisters peaks twice, which turns off from this trail. Took my group 8-9 hours both times. The second time I hiked it June 30, 2017 and the trail was still under 16 feet of snow, but we had a gps so made it to the top. Insane hike. My absolute favourite hike to do ever


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

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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