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Hiking in BC: The Trail to Lake Oesa in Yoho National Park

Hiking in BC can be very rewarding – especially if you take the trail to Lake Oesa in Yoho National Park.

If you want a short and easy hike that rewards with incredible mountain scenery and a turquoise coloured lake then look no further than the hike to Lake Oesa from Lake O’Hara.

It’s a straight forward 6.6 kilometre (4.1 mile) round trip hike with only 240 metres of elevation gain – providing of course you start at Lake O’Hara and you haven’t had to walk in from the parking lot. But that’s another story.

"Starting out at Lake O'Hara with early morning mist"

Starting out at Lake O’Hara

"Looking across to the cabins on Lake O'Hara"

Looking across to the cabins on Lake O’Hara; the water really is this colour

"Reflection of Lake O'Hara"

Reflection in Lake O’Hara

"Small turquoise coloured lake on the way up to Lake Oesa"

Small turquoise coloured lake on the way up to Lake Oesa

"Another stunning mountain view"

"The trail past Lake Victoria"

The trail past Lake Victoria

"Passing by a small waterfall en route to Lake Oesa"

Passing by a small waterfall en route to Lake Oesa

"Looking down the valley from Lake Oesa towards Lake O'Hara"

Looking down the valley from Lake Oesa towards Lake O’Hara

"Looking up at the mountain peaks"

Don’t forget to look up at the mountain peaks

"Turquoise coloured Lake Oesa"

Turquoise coloured Lake Oesa

"Another view of Lake Oesa"

Looking towards Yukness Mountain

"Lake O'Hara at the end of the day"

Lake O’Hara at the end of the day

The trail to Lake Oesa is well signed and the trail itself is beautifully constructed. In places huge slabs of flat rock have been carefully laid to provide a fantastic surface for walking on.

At the end of your hike there’s a small concession where you can buy cold drinks, ice cream bars and other snack food items. Bring cash.

Here’s what you have to do if you want to hike to Lake Oesa or on any of the other outstanding trails around Lake O’Hara.

  • If you have the money – and that’s only part of the equation – then you can try and snag a room or cabin at Lake O’Hara Lodge. It’s best if you’re very flexible. Request a booking six months out or phone them for a last minute cancellation.
  • Book a bunk at the Elizabeth Parker Hut. You are encouraged to apply by lottery beginning at the end of October for the following summer. In mid-December bookings that haven’t been confirmed are available on a first come first served basis. Get on the phone the second they’re open!
  • Try to snag a campsite. You can book these 90 days out beginning at 8 AM by calling 1-250-343-6433. A friend and I tried for 30 minutes on two different occasions last spring and never got through. Try for mid-week or for some time in September when it might be a little less busy. You can stay a maximum of three nights. Only one tent per campsite is permitted and you can book no more than two sites.
  • Your other alternative for a day hike is to try to book a seat on the bus. The first one leaves at 8:30am. Otherwise it’s a 12 kilometre walk up the road so hiking Lake Oesa becomes a little less easy. You can pay to take the bus back to the trailhead without making a reservation.

Have you been hiking in BC? Have you considered the trail to Lake Oesa in Yoho NP?

Other hikes in Yoho National Park you might enjoy:

Leigh McAdam

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

More posts by Leigh

Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Steve says:

    You’ve outdone yourself with the pictures this time Leigh. Beautiful shots of an obviously gorgeous location. Even seems like an easy enough hike for those of us who get tired on the first flight of stairs.

  • Laurel says:

    Beautiful! The rewards seem to far outweigh the effort. I’m kicking myself for not exploring Yoho more when I lived in Calgary.

  • A Montrealer Abroad (@amontrealer) says:

    Sooo pretty! I can’t believe I’m such a bad little Canadian – I’ve never been to BC, despite how gorgeous it is :(

    • There are plenty of people from BC & Alberta that haven’t seen the east yet either. It may not be as glamorous but I do recommend a trip sooner rather than later to explore BC. And it’s so much more than just Victoria and Vancouver.

  • @Steve You could do this one and love it. Your whole family would enjoy the scenery and lunch by the lake.

  • Trinity says:

    We did this hike in August 2018. Lake Oesa is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. We did the loop around the Yukness ledge back down. The altitude is no joke. The gain in altitude was very tiring. Oh and those aren’t obese chipminks, they are golden mantled ground squirrels!

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