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The Lake Oesa Hike In Yoho National Park, BC

The Lake Oesa Hike in Yoho National Park, BC

The hike to Lake Oesa from Lake O’Hara in Yoho National Park is short, easy  and family-friendly. It rewards with incredible mountain scenery and a turquoise-coloured lake in a spectacular mountain setting.

It’s a straight forward 6.6 kilometre (4.1 mile) round trip hike to Lake Oesa 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.

The hike to Lake Oesa starts along Lake O'Hara
The hike to Lake Oesa starts along Lake O’Hara
Looking across to the cabins on Lake O'Hara; the water really is this colour
Looking across to the cabins on Lake O’Hara; the water really is this colour
Small turquoise coloured lake on the way up to Lake Oesa
Small turquoise coloured lake on the way up to Lake Oesa
The climb up to Lake Oesa is never onerous
The climb up to Lake Oesa is never onerous
Passing by a small waterfall early on the hike
Passing by a small waterfall on 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
Turquoise-coloured Lake Oesa
Turquoise-coloured Lake Oesa
Aggressive ground squirrels will try and steal your food
Aggressive ground squirrels will try and steal your food
All of the lake captured in one shot
All of Lake Oesa in one shot

The hike to Lake Oesa

The trail to Lake Oesa is very 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. Despite it being one of those most beautiful hikes in the Rockies, you won’t find throngs of tourists. 

When you finish the hike pick up cold drinks, ice cream bars and other snack food items at a small concession where by the bus stop. Bring cash.

The crux of the hike is getting to the trailhead. Here’s what you have to do if you want to hike to the lake 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 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!

Planning your hike to Lake Oesa

Doing any hike at all in the Lake O’Hara region takes some planning. If you’re planning to camp the following is important as the rules changed in 2020 .

On January 24, 2020 beginning at 8:00 a.m. MST all Lake O’Hara camping reservations are now offered on the Parks Canada Reservation Service. It’s a first come, first served basis. Camping is possible from June 19 – October 3, 2020.

To access the reservation service click on this page.

The Parks Canada website says you can also call one of these two numbers. They recommend creating an account beforehand to save time. Reservations are expected to be booked completely on opening day – January 24th!!

  • 1-877-RESERVE (1-877-737-3783).
  • International: 1-519-826-5391

How to get a seat on the bus to Lake O’Hara (no overnight)

As of 2020 the rules for booking buses have also changed in Yoho National Park.

Fill out an application online between February 1 -29, 2020. It’s a $10 non-refundable fee per application but on each application you can choose 6 different days and up to 6 bus seats. Applications are drawn at random and you’ll have two weeks to confirm. 

Click on this website for all the bus details.

Other hikes in Yoho National Park you might enjoy

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The hike to Lake Oesa in Yoho National park, BC

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 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 8 Comments
  1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

  3. 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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