Scrambling Mount Richardson is a joy and takes you to the highest peak in the world-famous Skoki region. Go in late September and you’ll see striking yellow larches dotting the approach and mountain ridges, makes this a particularly colorful scramble. This is a long day from the Lake Louise trailhead and could be done from the Hidden Lake Backcountry Campground.
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Route Description for Mount Richardson
You can hike Mount Richardson any time of the year, but it is especially spectacular when the larches are out in September. Going in September means the days will be shorter and the crowds will be higher, so it’s best to start as early as possible. The first part of the scramble is a hike up the fire road. Expect to be passed by trucks or vans heading up to ferry Skoki passengers to the top of the fire road or to work on the ski hill. The hike up the fire-road is a tedious part of this trip.
After 45 minutes of hiking you will reach the end of the fire road. Continue on the trail as it crosses ski runs and goes above Temple Lodge (which is roughly 100 m below the route on the left). This part of the hike is the same as the hike to Skoki Lodge, so you’ll pass a large sign as you enter the trees, alerting you that you are on the Skoki Lodge trail.
Once in the forest, you will be on the trail to Boulder Pass. The trail is generally quite flat so it’s possible to make good progress with an arrival at the turnoff to Hidden Lake coming less than an hour later. The entire part of the route is in the shade, so it can be chilly in autumn or welcomingly cooler in the high summer.
Take the turnoff to the left through the Hidden Lake campground and onwards to Hidden Lake. This is a great place to have a quick snack.
From Hidden Lake ascend a steep grassy slope to the crest of the south ridge of Mount Richardson. If you’re lucky this is a good place to spot mountain goats while you grunt up the ascent.
Once atop the ridge, head right and make your way along a clear trail towards the summit. In autumn it is possible to see bears here and in the surrounding valley meadows, so it’s best to walk in groups and have bear spray to hand.
Continue following the trail around some cliffs and pinnacles before arriving at a broad plateau about 350 m below the summit. In autumn, expect some snow on the route in this section which may make it slightly more difficult to follow the trail from this point forward. Luckily the broad slope offers a great number of ascent lines and you should have little trouble making your way to the top.
The summit of Mount Richardson is a broad saddle with both high-points being of equal height. The western side offers a much better panorama with a spectacular view down to Merlin Lake and Richardson Glacier. The Wall of Jericho and Pika Peak are similarly stunning, and as Mount Richardson is the highest in the Skoki area, so is the entire mountain vista! This is a truly incredible viewpoint and often ranks highly in peoples favorite Canadian Rockies lookout.
From the top of Mount Richardson, your descent will retrace your steps along the ridge, where you will follow your trail for a couple of hundred meters down the east side of the south ridge. While you can follow the trail you came up back past Hidden Lake and the campground, an alternative is to explore a meadow to the south (right) of the lake. Leave the main trail and head down to the meadow, before cutting back down to the main trail near the Hidden Lake turnoff to get back to the regular route. This is a very scenic detour and with the exception of a few short sections of thick brush, the trail was straightforward.
Once down on the main path to Skoki, turn right for the uneventful walk back along the trail and fire road to your car.
Insider Hints for Mount Richardson
- There is a campsite at Hidden Lake (SK5) with 10 tent pads. This would make for a short and fun backpacking trip and guarantee an early start to the day.
- Lake Louise has one of the highest concentrations of exceptional hiking trails anywhere on earth, so we often like to take holidays of 5-7 days and explore the area. Here are our hints for planning your next trip!
- Just on the other side of the Highway, around Lake Louise itself are a number of excellent hikes to either tag on to the end of your day or stay the night and check out in the morning!
Getting to the Mount Richardson Trailhead
Head to the Lake Louise Ski Resort on Whitehorn Drive. Before the ski hill, take the turn on the right towards Fish Creek parking lot. There is a sign there pointing towards Skoki Lodge. Begin the hike from the parking lot, following signs for Skoki Lodge and Hidden Lake.
Mount Richardson Elevation Graph
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