Exploring Lake O'Hara
Okay guys. I’m finally putting our recap and some directions for this hike. I got SO many messages and emails from y'all wanting more info on our hike here but I really want to stress a few things first...
Lake O’Hara’s alpine environment is extremely fragile and it’s important before going that you understand how to navigate the area to ensure that the fragility is preserved. Lake O’Hara is a gem and you’ll find many gorgeous lakes and hanging valleys that you really won't experience anywhere else in the area. The park goes beyond regulatory guidelines when it comes to protecting the area of Lake O’Hara and the entire area is not easy to access to ensure it is protected. When you’re hiking in the area it is SO IMPORTANT you stay ON THE TRAILS and do not wander off. The ground cover is delicate and one misstep could crush and kill unique flora and fauna. Okay lets get to some details:
HOW TO ACCESS THE LAKE O’HARA AREA
As I mentioned above it is difficult to access the area, and it was designed that way. Most people book a bus to the main lodge/Lake O'Hara and where all the trails come down to. However, you can only book the bus if you have a reservation at the lodge or a reservation at a campground and they sell out almost within the hour that they go on sale. The only other way to get to the area is to hike the 6.8 miles (11km) in, up a long access road that the bus runs up and down. You can park in the Lake O'Hara parking lot and the access road is blatantly obvious, you just start your hike from there! The hike isn't particularly difficult; it's mostly flat with a few uphills. If you opt to hike in, you can catch the bus back out for $10CAD but ONLY if there is room after all people with reservations at the lodge/campground are loaded on. We were able to catch the bus back down, but if you’re not, be prepared to hike the 6 miles back out. We talked with a few people who come to the lodge almost every year and they said there have been plenty of times when people are not able to catch a ridge back out.
- The link to reserve an overnight campground is HERE.
- The link to see the bus schedule is HERE.
- To book at the Elizabeth Parker Hut go HERE.
- To book at the Lake O’Hara Lodge go HERE.
After hiking into the lake Michael and I decided to do an extra hike past Mary Lake and up the West Opabin Trail. This hike was HARD. Michael and I are both in great shape and we were sucking wind, me more than him. The trail is a straight shot uphill and is very unforgiving. However, it is SO worth the views, as you can see above.
There are so many other trails you can access in the area but be sure to bring a helmet for a lot of the alpine hikes in the area. You can contact the park to figure out what hikes require helmets. I also recommend hiking around Lake O'Hara itself, there is a gorgeous waterfall on the far side of the lake that we could see from the overlook off of West Opabin trail called Seven Veils. My parents did the hike around the lake but we didn't.
To access the trail maps go HERE and click on the first link (PDF) that is listed.