The trip distance is return to Helen Lake. Dolomite pass is an additional 3km (18 total) away.
The trail starts out meandering through a shady, rooted forest, then cuts up the side of an open slope where you gain most of your 455m.
As the trail rounds the hillside, you are popped into a low, wide meadow with lovely views. From here the hike is awesome. You leave the last of the trees behind as you tuck gently up the valley, then cross a lively stream to some tarns, and soon, Helen lake (6km). The ground here can be mucky, and people have widened the trail to over 2 meters! in some spots to avoid the slop - don't be another wayward footprint.
Just beyond the lake, a short and sweet 100m ascent takes you to the roof of the valley. Brilliant! Perfect spot for a snack - 360' views and not a stain of civilization in sight.
The route to Dolomite pass is easy to figure out - you descend into the valley beyond, toward Kathleen lake in the near distance. The terrain is a colourful moonscape. 3km along and you will see the rocky pinnacles of Dolomite Pass.
Easy access, short trip to alpine, and stunning views the entire way. Camping is allowed beyond the pass above Helen Lake - the bowls and peaks of this area are a scramblers dream - basic routefinding skills are all you need!
In winter please check the local avalanche conditions and bulletins.
Take Icefields parkway 33km north of the Lake Louise junction. Watch for signs for the crowfoot glacier viewpoint, trailhead parking is across the highway (on your right if heading north). I recommended Waterfowl Lakes campground for the night, and get an early start in the morning - trail can get busy (but on this one, I really didn't mind sharing).
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Posted By: Moosebiker
- Wed Aug 08 13:37:43 EDT 2012
QuestionI heard that hikers must be in a minimum group size of six people. Is that correct and if so, is there a place where I can post an invite to hike with us in early September?ANSWERS are in this forum: Minimum of 6 hikers
Posted By: vpathak
- Wed Jun 13 20:41:19 EDT 2012
We are thinking of doing the Helen lake hike on coming weekend (16-June-2012).
Parks Canada website just says poor conditions and that the trail is snowbound. Wondering how accurate is that. Has anyone done this hike in June before? Is it really bad enough?
VarunANSWERS are in this forum: Helen lake hike in mid-June
Posted By: Yohohiker
- Fri Mar 25 10:23:01 EDT 2011
UpsideBeautiful views, especially alongside the Dolomites.
DownsideCrowds. The trails are sometimes narrow channels worn down by boots, so sometimes you have to hike "single file."
CommentTime you hike to avoid the mid-day crowds. It is an easy hike up to the lake and any elevation gain you make after that pays off in scenery. The marmots are real beggars, so steel yourself!
Posted By: MChaisson
- Mon Jul 13 16:57:44 EDT 2009
UpsideWeather was exceptional. Trail was in very good condition. Typical amazing views 360 degrees. Watched a grizzly on the ridge south of the lake 200m or so from us eating a freshly caught hoary marmot.
DownsideVery busy....we went on July 11th this year and we were first ones on the trail but by the time we came back from Dolomite pass there were enough dozens more at the lake. Trail is 4 and 5 abreast in places!!
CommentOther than the crowds this hike is well worth the effort and one of the nicer hikes i've been on to date.
Posted By: vpigeon
- Thu Sep 13 00:07:36 EDT 2007
UpsideAnother premier hike in the Canadian Rockies.
DownsideParking lot is somewhat secluded and possibly a target for thieves. Preferable to park at the Crowfoot Glacier viewpoint parking area, just on the west side of the highway.
CommentA beautiful, and quite easy hike of 6-7 k each way, 450-500 m up, budget approx 4 hours.