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Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

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Eastern Connecticut
posts: 255
reviews: 56
Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

I am sooooo elated because we (2 couples) have been fortunate to snag seats on the 8:30 a.m. bus for one day during the 1st week of Aug!!!! Now I need help figuring out which trails to hike. I've seen the map from Parks Canada but would appreciate some personal advice.

I've seen references to the "alpine circuit" but am not sure exactly what trail(s) that is or if it is within our abilities. Of the rest of the trails on the map I'm thinking we will have time for 2 out of these 3: Lake Oesa, Obabin Plateau circuit, or Lake McArthur.

Right now, the trail reports show significant snow in much of the area...sure hope that changes in the next 3-4 weeks...

If you've been there, what would be your recommendation and why? Thanks!

11 replies to this topic
Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Glacier National Park
posts: 1,434
reviews: 13
1. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

We are headed up to Lake O'Hara to camp for three nights so will have a bit longer to explore the area. I too am concerned about the amount of snow and hope alot changesin 19 days. The alpine circuit includes Wiwixy Gap,Huber Ledges, Lake Oesa, Yukness Ledges, Opabin Prospect and All Souls Route. These trails are all linked together for a 6 to 7 mile hike. Since we are going to be there up to 4 days we will do a little bit each day along with Lake McArthur. I had knee surgery in March and hope the rehab worked. I will be hiking with a large unloading brace, July 31 - August 3. What day will you be there?

Winston Salem...
posts: 1,223
reviews: 14
2. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

Congratulations on getting one of those coveted bus seats! I don't actually think you can pick a wrong place to hike. When we were there a couple years ago, the weather was so perfect that we only stopped at the lodge long enough to drop off our suitcases and immediately hiked to Lake Oesa. Absolutely incredible, jaw-dropping beauty. The next day it rained and then snowed, so we stuck to the trail that goes around Lake O'Hara. The third day, there was ice on Lake Schaffer, but by the time we got to Lake MacArthur, we were shedding layers and enjoying the sun! Another stunning gem and totally different from Lake Oesa. I guess if I had to pick just one, I'd say go to Lake Oesa. I haven't been to the Opabin Plateau, so can't help you with that. Enjoy your trip!

Eastern Connecticut
posts: 255
reviews: 56
3. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

You guys are/were lucky to spend multiple days there.

gnp, we'll be there a few days after you. I've looked up some of the trails that comprise the Alpine Circuit and the ledges and steep drop offs make me a little apprehensive. The scenery does look stunning though!

cdud Lake Oesa seems to be a favorite here on TA and the guidebooks so that will definitely be one of our destinations. We are hoping for good weather so we can see as much of the area in the one day we have.

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Glacier National Park
posts: 1,434
reviews: 13
4. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

I will try to pm you and let you know about our experience. During my knee surgery recovery I was on a continuous motion devise for 6 to 8 hours a day, so I had LOTS of time to plan this trip. We are Glacier lovers but have branched out these past couple years. last Year we backpacked and hiked in Olympic and North Cascades. Counting the days till we leave fo Canada (driving from Minnesta). Of course we will end up at Glacier after Canadian Rockies.

Eastern Connecticut
posts: 255
reviews: 56
5. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

Wow that was some rehab! Hope all is well now.

Touring the Northwest is on my bucket list..hope to get there in the next few years.

We seem to be doing a similar trip except in reverse as we will be in Glacier before the Canadian Rockies!

Calgary, Canada
posts: 137
reviews: 16
6. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

Got bus tickets reserved in a few days. Which trail offers the best view for causal hikers? Have the leaves turned red yet?

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Glacier National Park
posts: 1,434
reviews: 13
7. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

I would hike to Lake Oesa. Great views. Moderate Hike. if you only do one hike, this is it.

Calgary, Canada
posts: 137
reviews: 16
8. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

Thanks GNP4me. How long is the hike at Lake Oesa, including a lunch break?

Eastern Connecticut
posts: 255
reviews: 56
9. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

We have returned from our trip so I thought I would post about our Lake O'Hara experience. We arrived at the Le Relais shelter about 9 am. but didn't start hiking until around 10. It was overcast and thunderstorms threatened. In the morning we hiked to Lake McArthur taking the high trail in and returning via the low trail. At Lake McArthur we were about to eat our lunch when it started to rain. It was still quite pretty. On a sunny day I expect it is spectacular. On the way back a thunderstorm came through so that was a bit scary as we scrambled to get off the exposed rock only to end up in a forest. By the time we got back to Lake O'Hara the weather had improved. We had brief showers from time to time and even some patches of sun. We decided to spend the remaining time hiking to Lake Oesa. It was a magnificent hike. The stonework by Lawrence Grassi was amazing and the colored lichen on the rocks was beautiful. You get nice views of Lake O'Hara then pass 3 small ponds and a few waterfalls on your way to Lake Oesa. It was late afternoon and we were the only ones there!

Mahtomedi, Minnesota
Destination Expert
for Glacier National Park
posts: 1,434
reviews: 13
10. Re: Lake O'Hara trails - help me choose

Bubble, the hike would take about 3.5 to 4.5 hours. More if you stay a while at the lake.

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