Hike to Cobalt Lake

10 miles 2400 ft gain  - Out-and-Back Trail

Added by Mike Fennell

Earn your view of the Bugaboos, one of the finest landscapes of unique mountain spires and glaciers, by hiking a long and steep trail to this majestic alpine lake.  

You most likely won't find another person hiking this trail the same day as you, and for good reason; the trailhead is at the end of a 55 km gravel road that begins at British Columbia Highway 95, near the remote town of Spillimacheen. There is helicopter transportation if you are staying at the Canadian Mountain Holidays Lodge, located just a few hundred yards from the Cobalt Lake Trailhead. The Bugaboos are also a renowned rock climbing area because of it's neat spires, so you may find lots of cars at the parking lot at the very end of the gravel road that have gone up the Conrad Hut trail to reach the spires. The Cobalt Lake trail head is 1.6 km before the parking lot and you'll only be able to park on the side of the road. There is an obvious trail on the uphill side of the road that says "Cobalt Lake Trail" with a registration book, map, and sign that says it's 6.8 km. 

The first 4.5 km of the trail are steep switchbacks within the forest that will quickly gain over 1,800 feet of elevation. The trail is very well maintained and easy to follow. At 4.5 km the trail will begin to flatten out in the sub alpine and you'll come across a junction sign that says Walker lake is 0.5 km to the left, and Cobalt Lake is 2.5 km to the right. Walker lake is a small little lake in the woods that provides no real good views but is a nice place to take a break. 

There is a sign at the trailhead that says there is no maintained trail after Walker Lake, however I followed a very clear one all the way up to the ridge. The ridge will come about 1.5 km past the trail junction to Walker Lake, but it will be an additional 600 feet of elevation gain. This is where you get your first view of the Bugaboos from the alpine level. It's truly an unbelievable sight and all your stress from the steep hike up will vanish within a breath. 

From this ridge, you can see Cobalt lake just to the North. This is where the dirt trail vanishes but there are rock cairns to guide you along if you're uncertain about navigating the open alpine ridge. Make your way along this ridge for about 1 km to gain the best views of Cobalt Lake, and where the 6.8 km point from the trailhead ends. 

You can certainly make your way down to the Lake but will just require some minor trailblazing. The easiest route is probably on the rib between the two gullies from the ridge to walk south along Cobalt creek. When you reach the bottom, angle right to skirt the bottom of the rocky bluff, and then drop down again to the marshy area below the exit waterfall from the lake. Climb up to the south (left) of the waterfall to get to the lake.

Be sure to bring warm layers because it will be drastically colder on the ridge than it was during the hard trek up. 

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🥈 Contributor

about 4 years ago

Amazing hike with tons of opportunities for climbing

This route into Cobalt lake is one of the best ways to access the Bugaboos without running into dozens of people going to the Conrad Kain Hut. The lake is gorgeous and if you continue up past Cobalt there is a climbers trail that leads to the Hut and Bugaboo and Eastpost Spire. I did this in early August and had beautiful weather the first day but thunder and hailstorms the second so keep in mind the volatility of mountain weather in this fairly remote location

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