Thursday, June 20, 2024

June 20 – Emerald Lake, Hamilton Falls and Natural Bridge

The weather today was a clear blue sky in the morning, then a some clouds in the afternoon. It actually rained for about 15 minutes once we were done for the day and back in the RV. Also this is the first warm day we have had here and at least part of the time we could be in just shirt sleeves.

I had heard that Emerald Lake, back in Yoho National Park, would be busy but WOW! We thought that we were being early by getting there right around 9 am. As we turned off the highway to the access road a sign proclaimed “Limited Parking”. We thought that that was hard to believe but when we got to the lot there was only one spot left. I would guess that the lot held about 30 cards and maybe 10 RVs. When we left the line of cars parked nose in along the side of the road had to extend for at least 1 kilometer up until a sign that said no parking so there really was no more room. The result was a constant line of cars circling waiting for someone to leave.


The trail around the lake is just under 6 km and mostly flat. We did it in a clockwise direction starting from the north west corner.

The first half of the loop on the north side was great. A wide flat trail with great views of the lake and mountains.


As a bonus there was no wind so we got some great reflections of the mountains.




As usual we always check out the wildflowers.



There is a lodge here with a huge number of cabins spread along the western shore..






A photosphere from one of the viewpoints.

At the far end of the lake there was a wide flood plain where the waters from the glaciers enter the lake.




Jennie put her polarized sunglasses in front of the camera to get this sparkly effect on the water.



A couple of photosphere1 and photosphere2 from the end of the lake.

Moving on to the trail on the south side of the lake. It had just about everything we hate in a trail. It was dark and cool in the forest with no views. It was muddy and heavily rooted. There were boards over some of the very wet areas and some just embedded in the ground but they we all wet and slippery.



We really wished that there had been a better description of the trail because we would we had just turned around and backtracked along the north shore.

There was only one decent viewpoint.


When we finally got back to the start, the people crush was really on. I think that most visitors just come to this area, take pictures and leave because the trail itself was not that busy.



You can rent the canoes for $90 an hour and there was a long line waiting.

There are a few picnic tables but they were all in use so we found a nice log to sit on for lunch.


A photosphere from the lakeshore in front of us.

Once again, since it was so early, we made the silly suggestion that maybe we should do something else before we go home. A sign board on the side that there was a short 1.4 km return trail with a “gentle” climb to Hamilton waterfall.

Well it turned out to be a rocky and rooted 80m or 260 vertical foot climb. Everyone we met agreed that gentle was not the term they would have used.


And then it was not very well marked where the actual falls were. We asked someone coming out of the climb, if it was worth it and they said “well it’s no Niagara Falls”. It was not encouraging.

The trail seems to come to an end at a wide opening overlooking this set of rapids. We are at the base of a huge vertical cliff. I think that the previous hikers thought that this was the falls.


Definitely not impressive. I didn’t know it at the time but it turns out that the real falls are just out of sight around the corner to the left in the picture above.

Then I saw a sign just before the opening pointing up the hill just saying “Trail”. Now the trail does continue much father to Hamilton Lake so it was no indication that this was the way to see the real falls.

We were about ready to leave when I figured that this couldn’t be all there was so climbed up the trail and sure enough there was a short side trail that led to a view of the actual falls.

When I looked at the trail I knew Jennie could not do it so she never even saw the falls. It was narrow and barely cut into the side of a VERY steep hill.

From the end of that trail you got this view. It was a long way down.


The falls emerge from a slit in this massive cliff that is towering over me. I decided that this view was not good enough so I climbed down wall, that was as close to vertical as I would ever want to climb, to the creek.

These are the best pictures I could get, which are terrible. I even screwed up the photosphere because I got my fingers in it (trying to block out the overhead sun).



I really wish I could have done better because it was an impressive location.

Jennie got a shot of me doing the photosphere.


And you can just barely see Jennie in the middle of the shot below.


Then I carefully climbed back up to the trail and back down to Jennie ( bottom left)


So sort of a bust of a trail but you never know.

Back at the car we got ready and left quickly as the vultures circled the parking lot.

Near the start of the access road to Emerald Lake is the Natural Bridge.The river has undercut a rock wall and created an arch.


I had to wait for those people to stop climbing right over the actual gap.

The higher view.


Up stream


Down stream


This place was also swarming with people but because it is right next to the road people don’t stay long so we did find a parking spot.

Then home.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing hike with such beautiful weather! Those mirror pics of Emerald Lake are stellar and the photos of the falls and terrain at Hamilton Falls are fameworthy - they look like paintings!!!!