Lake O`Hara, Canada

Lake O'Hara

Yoho National Park

The mountain peaks, valleys, and lakes that surround Lake OHara area among the most beautiful alpine regions in the world. If you haven’t visited yet you need to add it to your bucket list! The area consists of the 12 alpine lakes, 25 maintained trails, 5 glaciers, 30 campsites, 2 ACC huts and 1 day use shelter. Activities in the area include hiking, climbing, scrambling, camping, fishing, glacier swimming, canoeing, snowshoeing, skiing, and skating. Some of these facilities are open all year for skiing and snowshoeing but the majority of them are only open during the summer months.

For information on currency, transportation, vaccinations, and more visit our page on Traveling Canada.  

How to Get There

Parking Lot

The parking lot for Lake OHara is located 194 km (120 Miles) from the city of Calgary. If you do not have access to a vehicle you can take a bus from the Greyhound Terminal in Calgary to Lake Louise. Once you reach Lake Louise you can either taxi or contact the Lake OHara lodge and they may provide transportation to the parking lot. Upon arrival, there are shuttles that will take you up to the lodge or campground.

Bus Reservations

If you have already booked a campsite or a cabin/lodge, you have two weeks to book your bus seat before it opens up to day users. If you are going to Lake OHara for the day, try to book as far in advance as possible because the bus fills up quickly! You do not need to reserve a seat on the outbound bus and you can hop on whichever one you’d like. Arrive at the bus staging area 20 minutes prior to departure.

  • Opening Day for Reservations: April 20th
  • Bus (Round Trip) Price: $14.70 (Adult) $7.30 (Youth) Free (5 and under)
  • Inbound Bus: 8:30am, 10:30am
  • Outbound Bus: 9:30am, 11:30am, 2:30pm, 4:30pm, 6:30pm

Hike to Lake OHara

If you’re just visiting for the day and the bus is full you can always hike the 11 km access road up to Lake OHara. This hike will take you along a windy dirt road with minor elevation gain. Once you reach the lake you can spend some time exploring the area or even rent a canoe and paddle around Lake OHara. If you want to hike further I would recommend hiking up to Lake Oesa as it’s the shortest distance with the most rewarding views.


Best Time to Visit

Summer

  • Opening Day: Mid-June 
  • Closing Day: Beginning of October

Winter

  • Opening Day: Late January 
  • Closing Day: Mid-April

Annual High/Low Temperature for Lake OHara


Accommodation

Camping

  • Opening Day for Reservation: Reservations open April 3rd. You can reserve no more than three months in advance. Competition is high so make sure to call at 8 am three months prior to your intended camping date.
  • Lake OHara Campsites: 30 single tent sites with a 13’ x 13’ tent pad
  • Facilities: Access to potable water from two separate taps with large commercial sinks. Women’s and men’s outhouses (2 toilets each). Both garbage and recycling are also available.
  • Lockers: Each campsite comes with a bear-proof locker to store your food and toiletries. There is a larger shed for shared storage as well.

Lake OHara Lodge

The Lake OHara Lodge is stunning with a marvelous view of the lake. There are 8 lodge rooms with 2 community bathrooms. Tea time is from 3 pm to 5 pm and is free for guests of the lodge. It is quite expensive for campers or day trippers, but they can stop in for tea as well. The lodge operates its own bus service so you don’t have to worry about reservations.

Lake OHara
Lake Shore Cabins at Lake OHara
  • Inbound Bus: 9:45 am and 4:45 pm
  • Outbound Bus: 9:15 am and 4:00 pm
  • Guide Cabin (2 people): $975/night (Min. 2 nights)
  • Lakeshore Cabin (2 people): $970/night (Min. 2 nights)
  • Lodge Room (2 people): $685/night (Min. 2 nights)
  • Single Lodge Room (1 person): $515/night (Min. 2 nights)

These rates include accommodation for two, all meals, afternoon tea and snacks, road trip bus fare, all taxes and gratuities.


Specific Gear

The camping at Lake OHara is regulated and only certain types of equipment are allowed into the campground. These rules help control the amount of waste that campers can bring into the area. It also helps to regulate the type of campers that stay overnight. The equipment restrictions are listed below:

  • Soft Cooler: One collapsible 512 cubic inch cooler per site
  • Back Country Stove: A single burning back-country stove like a JetBoil or a Pocket Rocket. We have seen larger groups bring a double burning propane camping stove and they didn’t have any issues.
  • Backpacks: You are allowed one large backpack and one smaller day pack per person on the bus.

Safety

Bear sighting’s are common in the area so it’s important to carry bear spray, make loud noises, and travel in groups. Attacks are rare but if something does happen, get down to the lodge where they can call for help and first aid is available.

Dehydration & Exhaustion can ruin a trip fast! Drink plenty of water, carry hydration tablets with you, and take breaks when you’re tired.

Insects aren’t usually a problem but mosquitoes can get bad in the early summer so bring good bug spray or cream!


Trails

Lake OHara’s Alpine Circuit

Lake OHara`s Alpine Circuit is  one of the most rewarding hikes you will ever accomplish. Start on the Huber Ledges/Wiwaxy trail head which is located on the north end of Lake OHara. First you will be challenged with steep switchbacks all the way to the top of the ridge of Wiwaxy Peaks. Next you will follows a ridge along Mont Huber which takes you across to Lake Oesa. There are many waterfalls along this ridge to cool off under and take some beautiful photos.

After enjoying the view of Lake Oesa, you can either take the trail back to Lake OHara or continue on to Yukness Ledges trail.  This trail will take you around Yukness mountain offering beautiful views over Lake O`Hara. Eventually, the trail will fork and you will have the option of an out and back to see Opabin Lake if you go left. Keeping Mount Shafer on your left you will now begin All Souls Alpine Route. This is a difficult route that is often closed at the beginning and end of the season. This trail will lead you to Big Larch trail and finally take you back to the lodge.

  • Distance: 12.0 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 495 m
  • Time Required: 7-9 Hrs

Oesa Lake Trail

A great hike for a recovery day or a less experienced hiker. It’s shorter and less challenging but has beautiful views of the waterfalls and small lakes flowing from Oesa down to OHara. This trail head starts at the NE end of Lake OHara.

  • Distance: 6.6km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 240m
  • Time Required: 3 Hrs

Lake McArthur Trail

Lake McArthur
Lake McArthur

The perfect arrival day hike. It’s not quite as long as the other hikes but Lake McAurther itself is breathtaking. The trail has a steady elevation gain until you reach the McAurther cut off Trail.  You then climb up and over a steep ridge before you arrive at the lake.

  • Distance: 6.3 km round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 310m
  • Time Required: 3 Hrs

Cathedral, Linda, and Morning Glory Lakes Trail

This trail head begins in the campsite. The trail is fairly flat to Linda Lake which in my opinion was the most beautiful lake in the area. You can stop and swim in this turquoise water or continue on to the west end of the lake. Here the trail quickly steepens and continues until you can see Lake OHara to the East. There is a small trail down to Cathedral Lakes. If you are up for it there are two separate trails that continue on to Cathedral Basin or Duchesnay Basin.

  • Distance: 6.7 km one way
  • Elevation Gain: 370 m
  • Time Required: 5 Hrs

Lake OHara Shoreline Trail

A beautiful hike to do in the morning or evening. It’s a casual walk around Lake OHara that offers wonderful views of the lake and the surrounding mountain peaks. There are benches along the trail to take a break and enjoy the view.

  • Distance: 2.8km circuit
  • Elevation Gain: None
  • Time Required: 1 hr

Trail Map


Fishing

License Required: Get an annual $35.00 CAD Parks Canada Fishing License (Jasper, Banff, Yoho, Kootney) or a 3-day license. It can’t be purchased online so you will have to pick it up at a Visitor Information Center inside the park, the Lake Louise Visitor Center is the most convenient. Make sure to grab a set of fishing regulations as the rules of the park and keep limits vary from year to year.

Brook Trout from Lake McArthur, Lake O`Hara
Brook Trout from Lake McArthur

Lake OHara: Well known for its West Slope Cutthroat fishing. Fish have been caught at 50 cm and larger! The North Bay is closed at the beginning of the season. Fish the areas around the creek inlets.

Lake McArthur: Brook Trout up to 30 cm

Lake Oesa: Brook Trout up to 30 cm

Linda Lake: I fished this lake for a couple hours with no success other than seeing a small brook trout.

Cathedral, Vera, Schiffer, Opabin, Mary and Morning Glory Lakes: No fish in these lakes so it’s safe to leave the rod at the campsite.

Tips & Gear: Ice off doesn’t happen until the beginning of July on the higher alpine lakes. Ice off on Lake OHara happens around the beginning of June. If the fish are rising on Lake OHara fly fishing can be very good! If the fish aren’t rising use a nymph pattern. Using a small spinner (Panther Martin, Five of Diamonds, etc.) can also be very productive.


Elizabeth Park Hut (ACC)

This hut is maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada(ACC) and located just 500 m west of Lake OHara in a small meadow. There are actually two small buildings: the Elizabeth Parker Hut and the nearby Wiwaxy Cabin. The main building sleeps 16 people and the Wiwaxy cabin sleeps 8 people in the summer. In the winter, the cabins combine to sleep 20 people. Mattress pads are provided for you to use under your own sleeping bag.

Both huts are heated by wood-burning stoves and propane is supplied for cooking and lighting. Outhouses are 25 m from the huts and any garbage or food scraps should be disposed of properly. Snow melt and the creek that runs nearby are the only water sources. Booked by lottery only during the summer months, the hut is open to Alpine Club Members and the general public during the winter. To book at the Elizabeth Parker Hut call 403-678-3200 ext. 0


Abbot Pass Hut

Abbot Pass Hut, Lake OHara
Abbot Pass Hut

Maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada, this hut is located between Mount Victoria and Mount Lefroy near the continental divide. At an altitude of 2925 m, the hut is only operational during the summer because it’s too dangerous in the winter.  After reaching Lake Oesa you will find a sign marking the end of the Parks Canada trail. The trail turns into a scramble that can be hard to follow at some points due to rock slides. The Abbot Pass Hut sleeps 24 people and has a wood stove for heating and a propane system for cooking and lighting. An outhouse is located a short distance away. These resources are flown in and out annually by helicopter, so be sure not to waist them. 


Winter at Lake OHara

Elizabeth Parker Hut, Lake OHara
Winter Time at Elizabeth Parker Hut, Lake O’Hara

During the winter months at Lake OHara,  the 11 km access trail is groomed weekly for cross-country skiers. On weekends the lodge offers soup, salad, dessert, and coffee or tea between 12 pm and 2 pm, cash only. Skiing is the only way to get into Lake OHara in the winter and takes approximately 3-4 hours.

  • Activities: Skating, cross-country skiing,  and snowshoeing
  • Lodge Room Twin Bed (2 people): $387.50/night (Min. 2 nights)
  • Elizabeth Parker Hut: $40/person/night

This rate includes all meals, Après ski gluhwein & goodies, Sauna, and guided ski touring.


Le Relais Day Use Shelter

This small shelter is the information and snack shack for the area. You can purchase maps and a few other small items but remember they are CASH ONLY. The employees are always helpful and know a lot about the area so feel free to ask plenty of questions. When you need to take your mind off of how sore your legs are from the hiking, try their delicious carrot cake!

We hope you enjoy your time at Lake OHara. Please feel free to contact us with any questions or to let us know about your hiking trip!
Travel Guide: The Complete Hiking and Camping Guide to Lake O`Hara. Click through for information about Lake OHara Hiking Trails, Lake Ohara Camping, Winter at Lake OHara and more!