The trail to Guinn’s Pass is spectacular, offering stunning views. This hike takes in Lillian Lake, Lower Galatea Lake and then up to Guinn’s Pass, offering views down to Ribbon Lake and over to Buller Pass. This trip is pretty special.
From the Stoney Nakoda Casino on the TransCanada, take Highway 40 south for roughly 32.6km. Turn right into the signed Galatea Parking lot.
|When to do|
June to September
Parking Lot, Lillian Lake
Out and back
The route to Guinn’s Pass was completely changed for 2018, so if you haven’t done this hike recently, read the new routing carefully. We think the new route is much better, as the trail is more gradual as well as the trail now passes the very pretty Lower Galatea Lake as part of the route.
Set out from Galatea Parking Lot on the clear path that goes initially downhill before crossing a bridge over the Kananaskis River.
The trail then goes up the Galatea Valley, following Galatea Creek, over which you will cross and re-cross several times.
Along the way, you get some fine river views, however most of this first section is through the forest.
2.9km from the car, the path will split. Take the right-hand branch and go up and away from Galatea Creek.
You reach the tip of Lillian Lake after 1.45-2 hours of hiking, taking roughly 6.3km while gaining 600m. If you aren’t a regular hiker, expect this to take a bit longer.
Lillian Lake is a pretty lake, and many hikers stop here. There are some nice benches along Lillian Lake, as well as the Lillian Lake Backcountry Campground, which has 17 campsites, a group fire pit and toilets. Lillian Lake is a great option for a first backpacking trip for fit hikers, and you can easily spend a weekend here with great day hikes over to Ribbon Lake or up to the Galatea Lakes.
From Lillian Lake, the path to Guinn’s Pass is a bit tricky to find. Go towards the campground and follow the signs to the washroom. You will soon see the signs pointing the direction to Galatea Lakes and or Guinn’s Pass.
The route to Lower Galatea Lake and Guinn’s Pass is the same, and you go through a narrow path through tall brush, which is at times steep. Once you come out of the trees you continue going up, now over rocks. If you look up you may see people higher up heading on the trail that goes to Guinn’s Pass, which is actually NE of you.
You soon come to a junction, which is where those wanting to explore Lower and Upper Galatea Lakes go to the left, while Guinn’s Pass goes up to the right. At this point, it would be a shame to not hike the 75m to have a look at Lower Galatea Lake, the larger of the two Galatea Lakes.
The view down to Lower Galatea Lake is wonderful. If you’re tempted to see Upper Galatea Lake, it’s another 1.0km farther along. If you have the energy, this is a wonderful lake and totally worth the effort.
Come back to the junction and take the trail on your left and begin the ascent to Guinn’s Pass. The path is 1.5km long, and gains 240m on the way to Guinn’s Pass. Once at Guinn’s Pass, the views are spectacular, looking across at a pretty high alpine meadow and peaks all around you. Many backpackers will continue over Guinn’s Pass down to Ribbon Lake and camp at the Ribbon Lake Backcountry Camping site, roughly 4.3km from Guinn’s Pass.
The only downside of the view from Guinn’s Pass is that you can’t see Ribbon Lake. To see Ribbon Lake, walk up Guinn’s Peak, a mountain to the right of Guinn’s Pass. You only have to hike for 250m, during which time you’ll gain 70m of elevation to get some incredible views. There is no trail up here, however the views are spectacular, and you can see the stunning greens of the valleys surrounding Ribbon Lake.
Return to your car the way you came.
The washrooms at Galatea Parking Lot are heavily used, and there aren’t enough for the crowds. Bring your own toilet paper, or maybe stop at another washroom before here if you need the washroom.
This is a classic backpacking trip for beginner backpackers. Hike into Lillian Lake, set up your tent and then explore the Galatea Lakes and Guinn’s Pass.
A more challenging backpack is the trip from Ribbon Falls Trailhead (near Nakiska) up to Ribbon Lake for one night. The second day you hike from Ribbon Lake to Guinn’s Pass and down to Lillian Lake. The final day hike out to Galatea Trailhead. You’ll need a car shuttle to do this one.
Start early so you can add on a trip to Lower and Upper Galatea Lakes. It’s about 2.0km return, which may be just too much for some people, but the route has stunning views.
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