Lake O’Hara has become an exclusive backcountry area as Parks Canada limits the number of visitors each day in order to protect the fragile ecosystem.

We were lucky to get a reservation on the bus (through a lottery system), and were able to visit the stunning lakes in the area on August 2, 2022. It is also possible to hike the 11 km to Lake O’Hara

Lake O’Hara at 9 am, quiet and reflective

We arrived at the Lake O’Hara parking lot at 7:50 am, for our 8:30 bus. The park recommends passengers arrive at least 20 minutes before the bus leaves as extra seats are sold to others waiting on stand by.

The bus ride takes about 15-20 minutes through a narrow bumpy road. It dropped us off at the Le Relais/Day-Use Shelter.

A map of the area.

After getting off the bus and applying sunscreen, we walked to the closest section of shoreline to get our first glimpse of the lake. The water was still and glassy, and the clouds hanging over the tops of the adjacent mountains made the scene even more ethereal. We began our hike heading clockwise around the lake following the signs for Lake Oesa.

A look-out rock on Lake O’Hara

The views along the trail on the shoreline were incredible. We watched as the lake began to change colour in the sun and met a bold little squirrel. We decided to check out the lookout at Seven Veil Falls on the far side of the lake, adding about an extra kilometre to our first section. We rested at the falls for a moment, delayering and taking photos at the falls. Then we hiked back down and back tracked to the path that took us above the cliff in the photograph below and towards Lake Oesa.

Hiking to the Seven Veils Fallsph

We arrived at Lake Oesa at about 11 am. The elevation gain was not too significant (301 m), but it is mostly all at once, causing us to slow down our pace compared to the flat stroll around the lake.
Lake Oesa was beautifully blue, but the wind began to whip around us and we decided to keep moving after taking a few photos. We would take the Alpine route via Yukness Ledges to East Opabin.

Lake Oesa.

We gained a little more elevation from Lake Oesa to take the Yukness Ledges trail. This trail is marked by blue squares painted on the rocks. It is fairly exposed, but not one of the worst “ledges” I’ve hiked. Unless you have an extreme fear of heights this route should be do-able.

Traversing the Yukness Ledges.

Yukness ledges passes directly behind Lake O’Hara, giving spectacular views from above. Once we came back down the other side of Yukness, we joined up with the East Opabin trail and followed it to Opabin lake.

The lake is its own brilliant shade of blue-green. We decided on an elevated plateau over the lake to eat lunch at. We didn’t stay too long here though, as the wind picked up again and we decided to leave for a more sheltered area.

Opabin Lake.

The view walking back towards Lake O’Hara was breathtaking every step of the way. Before descending from Opabin Lake, we appreciated the view of Hungabee lake and the mountains surrounding the valley. Each lake is its own unique shade, adding to the beauty of the area.

Looking out over Hungabee Lake.

From Hungabee lake we continued on West Opabin trail to Opabin Prospect, one of the most famous views of the area. We realized we would be a few minutes short of the 2:30 bus back, so we spent extra time at the prospect, then came down West Opabin, which descends very quickly. After a short detour to Mary Lake, we made our way back to Le Relais and rested our tired feet while waiting for the return bus.

Lake O’Hara and Mary Lake from Opabin Prospect.

Published by immersivetraveller

I am a recent graduate with a BA in Honours English. I enjoy creative writing and language learning as well as travelling and exploring.

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