Hamilton Falls: Emerald Lake Part 2

Emerald Lake is nestled in Yoho National Park, near the town of Field, BC, just over the Alberta-BC border. It’s a spectacular place with towering mountains and lots of glaciers. That means there are lots of lakes and creeks and rivers that provide beautiful natural landscapes and fun features to explore. Our afternoon trek took us on short but fun romp on snowshoes through the subalpine forest, where we got right to the base of the falls, and then hiked up a switchbacked trail to a fantastic lookout above its cliff band with outstanding views of Mt. Burgess.

Screen Shot 2017-03-03 at 3.37.10 PM.pngEarlier in the day, we had snowshoed around Emerald Lake and explored the great billowing pillows of snow on the alluvial fan. (Click here if you missed that earlier blog post.) Over coffee at the lodge, we picked our next trail. The Kicking Horse Ski Club had provided a great map (hand drawn and ever so quaint… but accurate!).

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(And yes, Peaceful Pond is actually called “Peaceful Pond!” We found that out snowshoeing around it.)
We had already done the majority of available snowshoeing in the immediate vicinity, but we chose to add on a hike up to Hamilton Falls for lunch.

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One of the out buildings of Emerald Lake Lodge. The lodge is only accessible on foot and you get to it across this bridge. It is hidden in the trees and tucked into the hills of this little peninsula.

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You KNOW the area receives a lot of snow, when the trailhead sign is down at your feet!

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The trail takes you up through the forest, alongside a buried Hamilton Creek.

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Here, Hamilton Falls twist through a crack in the cliff band (look carefully and you’ll see the blue-green ice). We stayed back as there were signs of a recent avalanche there. (I would love to have gone in & scrambled around!)

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To get up to the viewpoint, you have to climb through a series of switchbacks. Bill was getting the “Seamus Assist” here.

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As sloggy as the switchbacks were, it was worth it. THIS was the scene that greeted us as we rounded the corner onto the viewpoint.

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We found a good spot, protected in the trees, but still above the cliff for our lunch spot.

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And THIS was our view! Mount Burgess itself, with its peak and fossil beds and famous Walcott Quarry enshrouded in thick, atmospheric cloud lay across the valley from us.

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It was sitting here, looking at the map and that magnificent mountain, that we hatched our plan of coming back this summer and doing one of the guided hike tours to see and learn about the fossil beds up there.
As I wrote in that earlier post, we returned home & booked it. So we WILL be returning to the Emerald Lake area in July. The area is rich in 500 million year old fossil deposits, and you can only access them with a guide, as they are a highly protected treasure.It’s one of those life bucket-list things for me, as I’ve always wanted to see the fossils there, and learn how to find them and read them. What’s is truly unique about this fossil find is that you can see the soft body shapes & details of its fossils (usually with fossils, only the bones are preserved).  I can’t wait to get there, learn, explore… and sweat (the hike up is supposed to be quite intense).

On our way out, we had fun with the descent (these are some of the switchbacks we came down)!

Below, Bill takes a shortcut… tricky to do with gigantic, spiky feet! (We needed to have a little fun before heading home on the yucky winter driving condition roads… it was a long, snowy drive home.)


To visit part one of this post, go to Adventuring On Snow Pillows: Emerald Lake Part 1. For more hikes in the spectacular Yoho National Park, go HERE. And for more hiking adventures, in Canada and around the globe, go HERE. To see what the Hamilton Falls look like in the summer, go HERE.


For more info on the Burgess Shale, go to the Royal Ontario Museum site (they’ve been sending teams out here to study the fossils for years). Should you want to visit the site yourself, go HERE to find out more info & book a guided hiking tour.

5 Comments on “Hamilton Falls: Emerald Lake Part 2

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