Lake Oesa Trail – Best Canadian Rockies Day Hikes

#18 Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Lake Oesa Trail

Lake Oesa Trail
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  • Location: Yoho National Park
  • Trailhead: Lake O’Hara
  • Type: Out-n-Back
  • Rating: Moderate
  • Total Distance: 4 miles 
  • Trailhead Elevation: 6,625′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 905′
  • Recommended Time: 2 – 3 hours
  • Recommended Season: Late-June to Mid-September
  • Reservations for the Lake O’Hara bus are needed. (Otherwise add 7-miles (one-way) to hike up the road.)

The Creek and the Lakes

Victoria Lake & Glacier Peak
Glacier Peak towers above Victoria Lake on the Lake Oesa Trail.

The Lake Oesa Trail is another beautiful hike in the Lake O’Hara area of Yoho National Park. There are no less than four beautiful alpine lakes to discover on this relatively short and moderate hike. This trail follows the flow of a cascading creek as it passes through several lakes. The rugged mountain peaks that rise up on either side of the path and the natural seclusion created by the Lake O’Hara permit system make this one of the best day hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

The Lake Oesa Trail

Victoria Falls
Victoria Falls, while not as grand as the one in Africa, is still a very beautiful cascade.

The trail begins by traversing the north shore of Lake O’Hara and climbs moderately steeply to a rocky bench above the lake. The trail passes above Yukness Lake, following the flow of the creek upstream through a series of cascading falls to Victoria Lake. Continuing on, follow the creek through the alpine meadow and skirt the small but extremely saturated blue Lefroy Lake. Climb over another rocky bench to a slab perched above Lake Oesa. Finally, descend the slab to the shores of the beautiful Lake Oesa.

Lake Oesa

Lake Oesa is surrounded by verticle cliff faces on three sides with glaciers clinging to the rugged walls of Yukness Mountain, Glacier Peak & Mount Lefroy. A waterfall plunges from the western edge of the rich turquoise-colored lake as the creek starts its descent towards the other lakes. The scenery found at Lake Oesa is truly breathtaking.

Oesa Lake
Oesa Lake sits snuggled in the bowl under several mountains, including Glacier Peak.

Other Hiking Options

A journey on the Lake Oesa Trail makes for a great day hike. If you are up for more adventure, cut across the Yukness Ledges, part of the Lake O’Hara Alpine Circuit, and continue on to the Opabin Plateau Circuit on the other side. You could also climb up to Lake Oesa via the Wawaxy Gap (another part of the Alpine Circuit) and return via this more moderate Oesa Lake Trail. As with all the hikes in the Lake O’Hara area a seat on the shuttle bus should be arranged ahead of time.

Opabin Glacier
Opabin Lake and Glacier Peak are some of the many alpine scenes to be explored when in the Lake O’Hara area of Yoho National Park.

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