Whether you limit your road trips to a couple of hours or can't imagine life without at least a couple of weeks on the road each year, every road trip is a chance to keep the destination in mind while being flexible enough to explore and enjoy the things you discover along the way.
An out and back hike starting from the parking lot at Emerald Lake, the relatively steep trail to Hamilton Lake in Yoho National Park traverses a patch of Western Interior Cedar-Hemlock Rainforest, follows a stretch of Hamilton Creek to the base of a lovely, multi-stepped waterfall, then climbs through more typical forest, crossing a couple of avalanche slopes where wildflowers bloom in abundance, before finally reaching the brilliantly-turquoise Hamilton Lake. We opted to carry on past the lake, up a long talus slope to the base of Top Hat Peak. Looking down on Hamilton Lake brought back fond memories of hiking the nearby Lake O'Hara region of Yoho National Park.
Despite the mist, rain, sleet and snow pellets, it was definitely worth hiking at Lake O'Hara during golden larch season and we hope to do it again (in better weather) some time over the next few years. On the advice of Parks Canada staff, we covered about 9 km, hiking up the Lake Oesa trail, across the Yukness Ledges and then - after a bit of time exploring the Opabin Plateau - down East Opabin trail.
The shortest and steepest of Parks Canada's three guided hikes in the Burgess Shale fossil beds, Mount Stephen is a trilobite lover's dream! And the views are terrific, too.
Hiking the spectacularly scenic Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit is one of the premier day-hiking experiences in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Three things make it a stand-out: 1) altogether, the various segments of the Alpine Circuit lead to, pass by or incorporate scenic viewpoints overlooking almost a dozen turquoise mountain lakes; 2) it offers hikers the flexibility to complete the Alpine Circuit in small sections, linking as few or as many sections in one day as their heart, lungs and legs desire; and 3) it showcases the vision and generosity of spirit of Tommy Link and Lawrence Grassi, who devoted many years and considerable effort to create a network of engineered trails that significantly improve the hiking experience in the area while at the same time doing much to preserve the fragile alpine environment.