Take the left (uphill) trail when heading west around Lake O'Hara Circuit, opposite side of the lake from the Lake O'Hara Lodge. Decently straining upward hike, followed by a fair amount of heavy scree (boulders) and smaller rocks. Past Victoria Falls, trail levels out some towards Lake Oesa. Oesa is a beautiful place to stop for lunch, but was too windy on this trek. From SW corner of lake, midway up scree, Abbot Hut can be seen. Follow the trail towards Yukness ledges (Alpine markers visible).
The Yukness Ledges portion of the trail is not as challenging, and will allow about sixty vertical feet of elevation loss when starting out. Still large boulders but easier to navigate. Looking north(ish) to Wiwaxy usually affords views of Mountain Goats, etc, but were none this time around. Follow Ledges trail around Mt. Yukness to South face, and down to Opabin Plateau.
Left leg of Opabin Plateau leads to Lake Opabin - absolutely beautiful and a fair amount of small wildlife (picas, weasels, chipmunks, rosy finches, squirrels, etc). The final leg of the trek back towards Lake O'Hara goes over more heavy scree and through a very mossy grove. (beside and past Mary Lake)
There was a fair amount of wind and some pellet-like snow when we made it to Yukness, which just adds to the experience. The views are amazing, surrounding by multiple glaciers and the larches were bright yellow to the timberline. I understand there are often marmots on and around the trail, but we did not see any this year.
Elevation gain: roughly 260m (853 ft) total, most of this heading towards Lake Oesa. We did this in 6.25 hours, including roughly half an hour for lunch. More seasoned hikers could go through much quicker than us!
(Pictures to come when camera has been offloaded)
From Lake O'Hara Lodge:
Head left around the lake until trail splits. Circuit continues to the right, and trail to Lake Oesa heads left.
From Highway 1:
Take Lake O'Hara turnoff (shortly after Lake Louise heading west, shortly before heading east). Day buses are available for hikers coming in - I am not sure, but believe must be booked in advance. Or you can hike in from the parking lot (11 km to Lodge) and set off that way. Only Lake O'Hara Lodge bus and two school buses used for day hikers are allowed on the Lake O'Hara road. In the winter, cross-country skiing in is the only route to go.
Note: You will be in Yoho National Park, so a Park Pass is a must.
(a) Click Wiki Edit This Page to get placed in edit mode
(b) When finished, your update is available to view as draft (click wiki update pending in trail to see draft)
* note: editors are notified and must approve the change