• Activities:

    Photography, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Advanced

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    6.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2690.3 Feet

Forest
Lake
Scenic

Leave the crowds behind, get exposed, and get a view of Lake O'Hara that thousands of people have never seen. 

Beginning at Lake O'Hara, head counter-clockwise around the lake - you'll get distracted by the reflections in the water if the water is calm enough, that's ok. You'll want to take the Opabin East route, but Opabin West will work too. Just remember to get on the east side at some point in time!

The trail up to the east side of the Opabin Plateau is mostly switchbacks to make the elevation gain a bit more palatable, but once you reach the plateau it obviously levels out and you're rewarded with the first great views of the day.

Keep heading along the trail - don't take the Yukness Ledges route! You need to go all the way to Opabin Lake and then keep following the trail up to the outcrop above the lake where the trail diverges. Take a hard left - don't worry, the trail is surprisingly well defined. Following it on the way up is the easy part!

One tip for the way up, make cairns whenever you think you might miss the trail on the way down. At the point where you scramble up a gulley, mark the point where you entered it with a cairn. Make a cairn once you get out of it as well so you know how to enter it on the way down. Once you gain the ridge, make a cairn. I got really messed up by following cairns that had been made in the dumbest places for I don't know what reason - take care of your route!

As I mentioned, you'll scramble up a gulley, and hike the rest of the way up to the ridge. Have you seen it yet? That's Lake Oesa. The saying goes, "We love O'Hara, but we bow to Oesa" and it's easy to see why. While some people love the turquoise colour of some famous lakes in the Rockies, that brilliant navy blue of Oesa is unbelievable.

I chose to do the north summit of Yukness because I was doing it solo and with a large pack on, so the true summit involved too much downclimbing and exposed scrambling for me to complete it. However, the north summit is nothing to scoff at.

The trail to the north summit is basically a ledge route all the way. Sometimes the trail gets a bit faint, keep looking for it! The only times I get in trouble are when I think not sticking to the trail is necessary. There's a reason why this trail is here - decades of people picking their way along these ledges have decided on this one being the most straightforward. Once again, if the trail was a bit faint in one spot, mark it with a cairn once you find it.

Once you start contouring your way to the summit, the view opens up and you'll have to sit down just to be able to take it all in. A pretty much 300 degree view starting from Opabin Plateau around to O'Hara and topping it off at Oesa. This one was a bit nerve wracking for me, but was definitely an adventure worth undertaking.

Protip: instead of taking the East Opabin trail back down, take Opabin West. Speaking to some people who have been going to Lake O'Hara for decades, they tell me that the West Prospect is one of the best views of the lake, and I completely agree. 

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Hiking poles
  • Climbing helmet
  • Appropriate layers
  • Snacks and water
  • Camera
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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James Hueser Explorer

Some call me the Jerry Macguire of the outdoors. The places special to me should be special to everyone. It is not my intention to hoard the best views around me. It's my responsibility to invite everyone to join, and give them every opportunity to do so.

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