Lillian and Galatea Lakes
The hike to Galatea Lakes is spectacular. The first bit to Lillian Lake is through forest, the route above Lillian Lake is outstanding, especially the circuit around Lower Galatea Lake. This hike takes in Lillian Lake, Lower Galatea Lake and Upper Galatea Lake.
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
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 pretty 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 anywhere from 1.5-2 hours. The hike is 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. This is a very good objective for your first backpacking trip (if you’re an intermediate hiker), 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 Galatea Lakes is a bit tricky. Go towards the campground and follow the signs to the washroom. You will soon see the signs pointing the direction to Galatea Lakes or Guinn’s Pass.
The route to Lower Galatea Lake and Guinn’s Pass is the same, and you follow 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.
You soon come to a junction, where those wanting to explore Lower and Upper Galatea Lakes go to the left. Guinn’s Pass (3.0km return, 240m of elevation gain) goes up to the right.
Go left here and you very quickly come over a ridge and look down on Lower Galatea Lake. Follow the path here as it goes around the right-hand side of Lower Galatea Lake before going around the back of Lower Galatea Lake. The views along this part of the hike are spectacular.
Once at the far-end of Lower Galatea Lake you hike up a short section and go right to see Upper Galatea Lake. You can hike a short distance on the right-hand side of Upper Galatea Lake.
From Upper Galatea Lake, the easiest option is to return the way you came back to Lower Galatea Lake and then down to Lillian Lake.
There is also a path that continues around Lower Galatea Lake, which is shown on our map. To go around Lower Galatea Lake, take the clear path that goes around the right-hand side of the lake. When you reach the end of Lower Galatea Lake, look on your left for a path that goes through the trees. This path will take you to the junction that goes up to Guinn’s Pass. It’s very easy to miss this path, which we did, and is shown on our map.
If you miss the turn, then the route down is a very steep and loose trail. The route looks like it goes down all the way to Lillian Lake, however we went left partway down the descent and bushwhacked 200m through the forest back to the main trail. We’d recommend against our route, though it is possible. If you make it all the back to Lillian Lake let us know!
Either way, once you’re back on the main path, follow the trail as it heads down to Lillian Lake and then back to your car.
The washrooms at Galatea Parking Lot are heavily used, and there aren’t enough for the crowds that come. 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.
You could add on a trip to Guinn’s Pass as well. The roundtrip distance for this trip and Guinn’s Pass is 21.1km with 1100m of elevation gain.
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