Lake O'Hara was definitely one of the highlights of our trip - if not the top highlight. In order to keep the area surrounding the lake as pristine as possible, and to protect its fragile environment, Yoho National Park limits the number of people who can visit the area to only a few dozen each day. As such, the park forces visitors to purchase tickets to ride a bus to the lake, which is essentially the only reasonable way to get into the area. As you might expect, tickets are in extremely high demand. Reservations for the entire season go on sale in April. At the stroke of 8:00 am all four of us in our party tried to purchase tickets. This year the entire season literally sold out within 5 minutes! Fortunately Kathy was able to get in and reserve a spot for us on the last day of our trip. After all the smoky days we endured throughout our trip, unbelievably, and thankfully, our day at the lake happened to be a spectacular bluebird day.
Once at the lake you’ll have several options in terms of where to hike. In addition to the epic scenery the area offers, Lake O’Hara is also famous for its alpine circuit, a loop hike that traverses precipitous ledges with frightening exposure to steep drop-offs. If you have a fear of heights you’ll likely want to avoid the Huber Ledges Alpine Route and the All Souls Alpine Route.
Our group avoided both of those routes. Instead, we chose a route that took us along the eastern shores of Lake O’Hara and up to Lake Oesa, across the Yukness Ledges, down to Lake Opabin, around Lake Hungabee, back down to the west shore of Lake O’Hara, and then an out and back hike up to Schaffer Lake. Yukness Mountain is the dark colored mountain on the right in the photo below. The Yukness Ledges route traverses this peak roughly half-way up the mountain:
Lake O'Hara is named after Lieutenant-Colonel Robert O’Hara, who heard about the lake after being discovered by James Joseph McArthur in 1887 while surveying for the Canadian government. O’Hara, from Galway, Ireland, was likely the first tourist to visit the lake.
Visitors can also rent log cabin bungalows at Lake O'Hara - for an arm and a leg:
Waterfall just below Victoria Lake:
Larch beginning to turn golden yellow at Victoria Lake:
Here are a few scenes from the Yukness Ledges, which overlooks Lake O'Hara. This includes two photos of the typical terrain hikers traverse to get across the face of Yukness Mountain:
Looking out across Lake Hungabee:
Trail: Lake O’Hara
RT Distance: ~8 Miles (12.9km)
Elevation Gain: ~1700 feet (518m)
TH Location: Lake O’Hara - Yoho NP
Map: Yoho and Banff North Trails Illustrated Map
Canadian Rockies Trail Guide Known affectionately as the Bible by outdoor enthusiasts, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide was the first guidebook with accurate distances and detailed descriptions to the trails of the Canadian Rockies. The book includes 227 hikes for all fitness levels. Not only is Canadian Rockies Trail Guide known locally as the Bible, it is also the only hiking guide to the region recommended by Fodor's, Frommer's and Lonely Planet. With over 250,000 copies in print, the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide is one of the best-selling non-fiction books in Canadian publishing history