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The Galatea Lakes Hike In Kananaskis, Alberta

The Galatea Lakes Hike in Kananaskis, Alberta

The Galatea Lakes hike in Kananaskis Country is accessed via the trail to Lillian Lake. This area was hit hard in the 2013 floods but the trail has been rebuilt, with new bridges added and lots of signage. In fact it’s one of the best signed trails I’ve seen in Kananaskis Country.

All told it’s 5.5 kilometres one way to Lillian Lake and an additional 1.1 kilometres to reach Galatea Lakes. There is an elevation gain of 492 metres to Lillian Lake and a further 183 metre gain to Galatea Lakes.

The route from the parking lot to Lillian Lake

Start the hike with a descent to the suspension bridge. Cross the Kananaskis River, check out the detailed map and mileage signs and then turn left. Follow the well-used trail, crossing Galatea Creek numerous times on well-constructed bridges. There are lots of places where you can see the destruction from the 2013 flood.

The hike up to Lillian Lake is mostly a gradual one until about the last kilometre. Then it steepens until you reach Lillian Lake. The first time I did this hike – also in October – Lillian Lake was singing. Thin ice covered the lake and as it warmed up, it cracked, causing sounds to ricochet off the mountains.  It was nothing short of magical.

The truth of the matter when it comes to the hike to Lillian Lake, is that I find the trail a little more boring than most. You start lower than many trails so you are mainly hiking in the forest. While Galatea Creek is very pretty at times – and there are occasional views, especially from the rocky avalanche paths, the good stuff doesn’t happen until you reach Lillian Lake. 

If you take pleasure in the beauty of just being out in nature then you’ll enjoy the hike. But my bet is once you start hiking to Galatea Lakes from Lillian Lake your heart will start to sing with all the mountain beauty.

The hike to Galatea lakes starts by crossing the Kananaskis River

The hike to the Galatea lakes starts by crossing the Kananaskis River

In the summer this water hole os a welcome sight for cooling off

In the summer this water hole is a welcome sight for cooling off

Moss lines much of the trail to Lillian Lake

Moss lines much of the trail to Lillian Lake

Cross many bridges on the trail to the Galatea Lakes

Cross many bridges on the way up to the Galatea Lakes

The shaded parts of the trail are snowy and icy in late September

The shaded parts of the trail are snowy and icy in late September

First views of Lillian Lake

First views of Lillian Lake

The hike from Lillian Lake to Galatea Lakes

After you’ve stopped on one of the large lakeside benches to have a snack and take in the view it’s time to find the trail to Galatea Lakes. Look for it partly along the trail to the Lillian Lake Campground. It’s easy to find.

The initial hike up to Galatea Lakes is steep but in short order you can enjoy some really lovely views back to Lillian Lake. The snow actually made the hiking easy; otherwise you’re walking on rock and scree. (However poles come in handy.)

After you reach the high point, veer left and descend into the trees – a short distance. Pop out of them and enjoy superb views of the teal-coloured Lower Galatea Lake. If you continue through the rocks you’ll see a steep trail going down to the lakes.

I continued for a few hundred metres high above the north shore of Lower Galatea Lake. I didn’t continue past this point but could see the trail continuing as it descended the northwest side of Lower Galatea Lake.

From what I’ve read you need to climb up the ridge blocking the view of Upper Galatea Lake to a four way junction. Go straight here and then descend through meadows to Upper Galatea Lake. That part of the hike will be left for another time when I know I can make it back to the trailhead in the daylight.

The beauty of the Galatea Lakes makes the whole day’s hike worthwhile.

Another 1.1 km to reach Galatea Lakes

Another 1.1 km to reach Galatea Lakes

Looking back at Lillian Lake

Looking back at Lillian Lake

Almost at treeline on the Galatea Lakes hike

Almost at treeline on the Galatea Lakes hike – and Rosie is loving the snow

Spectacular backdrop for the Galatea Lakes

Spectacular backdrop for the Galatea Lakes

Hiking towards the second of the Galatea Lakes

Hiking towards the second of the Galatea Lakes

Finding the Galatea Lakes trailhead

The Galatea Lakes trailhead is one of the easiest ones to find in Kananaskis Country. 

From the Trans-Canada Highway drive south on Highway 4o for 32.6 kilometres. Look for signage shortly before the turnoff to the parking lot. It’s on the west side of the highway about 20 kilometres south of Barrier Lake. There is a washroom in the parking lot.

Map of the trail to Lillian and Galatea Lakes

Map of the trail to Lillian and Galatea Lakes

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Go prepared

This is a mountain hike so even if it’s a hot summer day you should still carry the 10 hiking essentials. Take an extra layer. Bring additional energy bars, more water than you think you need (or a means of filtering it) and always carry bear spray.

I did this hike in early October after a couple of early season snow storms. It’s completely doable but way safer and easier with a pair of ice crampons. If you don’t have any and would rather slip and slide your way down steep icy sections, that’s fine but a good pair makes the hike way more enjoyable.

Shop: I swear by my Hillsound trail crampons. They don’t fall off and the spikes give you confidence on icy sections. You can also buy bear spray online. Note that it has a shelf life of 2- 3 years. Then the propellant goes.

Further reading on hikes in Kananaskis Country

Other hikes you can do from this trailhead

There are loads of hikes that are accessed from this trail – though most require a long hike in. The hike to Guinn Pass is very worthwhile. If you want to camp at Rainbow Lakes this is also a good trail to do. And if you’re looking for an epic hike head over Guinn Pass and on up to Buller Pass.

For up to date trail conditions check out the Kananaskis Country trail report.

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The Galatea Lakes hike in Kanananaskis Country, Alberta

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 57,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

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

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Thanks for this amazing travel guide.. I was planning to visit this place next month.. Now this guide will definitely help me a lot..

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