Above Bow Glacier Falls

Trails lead from Num-ti-Jah Lodge Road on Bow Lake in Banff National Park around the lake and up to Bow Glacier Falls.   Follow the trail around the lake for 1.6 km, then continue to follow the stream toward the falls.   An indistinct trail goes up to the base of the falls.   On the same route, a trail bears south heading to Bow Hut.

Upper Bow LakeOn one occasion we climbed up the steep moraines to the tarn at the base of the glacier above the falls.

Doug at Upper Bow LakerOn other occasions, we have followed the trail to Bow Hut, heading south past cliffs for a headwall climb to the ridge where Bow Hut sits.

Upper Bow Lake 2The trail to Bow Hut follows a stream drainage into the upper cirque, then turns right to climb the steep headwall.   This can be an exciting downhill route on skis in winter.   From Bow Hut, skiers and climbers can ascend onto Bow Glacier up to the Wapta Icefields.

Upper BowFor a summer route we have hiked up the steep moraines to the tarn (sometimes called Iceberg Lake) above Bow Glacier Falls then over to Bow Hut (and the reverse route another time, which is the easier way to do it).   It is also possible to traverse over towards Portal Peak although the upper route to the peak is a climb.   The whole area from Portal Peak to Bow Hut will require route-finding skills and a lot of care, but it is a fun area to explore.

Trapp Lake

Trapp Lake is a long narrow lake right on Highway 5A.   It is surrounded by hills and rangelands, though there is some Crown land too.   It is not known as a fishing lake, nor does it see much recreational use.   There is a good hand launch spot for paddlers a short distance off the highway (at N50 27.931 W120 16.246).

Trapp Lake imageWe can go around the lake in either direction, but it will depend on the wind.   On this day early in the morning the lake was calm and the reflections off the hills were displayed in the lake’s surface.

IMG_6253rIt was almost a shame to paddle since the movement of the boat sent ripples into the reflections.

IMG_6254brThe grasslands stretch up the hillsides in both directions.

IMG_6256crThe water quality of the lake is not the best and there can be an algae bloom on the lake mid-summer, but in fall it is a quiet, cool, muddy lake down in the bottom of the valley.

IMG_6258rPaddling down one shore to the end and back up the other in a long loop is a 10.4 km paddle.   The highway traffic is the drawback, but on a weekday morning the number of vehicles was comparatively low and I just tuned out the noise.   In its own unique way, Trapp Lake is another beautiful spot in our area.

Willis Creek Narrows

Many slot canyons and narrows in Utah are hard to get to and some involved scrambling, but Willis Creek Narrows is an easy drive and an easy hike.   I came to it from Kodachrome Basin.   Between Kodachrome and Cannonville watch for a turn-off to the Skutumpah Road.   This is a  good dirt road (except after a rainfall) and the drive to the signed trailhead is 6.3 miles.   The trail winds its way down into the creekbed and then follows the canyon downstream and then back for a 5 mile hike.

Willis Creek NarrowsThere is a series of narrows separated by some open spaces.   The creek runs down the sand-gravel course through sandstone walls.

Utah 2015 373brSome sections are more like a slot canyon.

Utah 2015 376rThe turn-around point is up to the hiker.   The canyon goes on for many miles, but the narrows section ends at the Sheep Creek junction.

This easy hike is suitable for families and is a pleasant spot for everyone to visit.

More Information:

Eakin Creek Road

The Nehalliston Plateau has many lakes, hikes, and backroads to explore.   The Eakin Creek Road connects Highway 24 with the upper plateau lakes including the Emar Lakes, Eakin Creek Floodplain Protected Area, the Hudson’s Bay Trail of 1843, and Eakin Creek Canyon Provincial Park.

The road can be driven from either end.   For this article, the route starts at the top end.   The turnoff is signed as Phinetta Lake or Opax Mountain Lodge.   The road forks at the lodge then goes east toward Phinetta Lake Rec Site.   The turnoff to Birch Lake is also a short ways down the road.

This is a fairly good forest service road, but the usual precautions should be attended to – bring a saw, axe or chainsaw for fallen trees, make sure your spare tires are in good shape, check your gas gauge, and use a two-way radio to announce your location for haul trucks.  The route traverses over to the head of Eakin Creek Canyon.   Another route is the Eakin Creek Creek Connector Road which turns down the hill after Janice Lake on a narrower, rougher road going past the route into Willowgrouse Lake and the trailhead for the 1843 Hudson Bay Trail and connects with the Eakin Creek Valley at a signed intersection (N51 27.087 W120 21.391).

We wanted to scout the route into Willowgrouse Lake and the trailhead for the HBC Trail so we took the Eakin Creek Connector Road which was the old Highway 24 before the new route up the Big Hill was built.   We have previously paddled Janice (Long Island) Lake and scouted some of the Emar Lakes Circuit.

The Eakin Creek Canyon is a deep one and the sides of the treed slopes rise steeply on both sides.   The road drops to the side of Eakin Creek and we enter the Eakin Creek Floodplain Protected Area.   On this last trip in September, the creek was running well, but did not reach the floodplain.   On a previous trip, the creek overflowed the banks and numerous ponds and wetlands were right by the side of the road.   The canyon is very narrow there with steep talus slopes on the north side and steep wooded slopes on the south side,   The trees are cedar and hemlock and there was devils club and seepage zone vegetation surrounding the creek.   It is a pleasant place to stop on a warm day, but there are no hiking trails there.   Past the park, we saw the lower trailhead for the Secwepemc Nation Heritage Hudson’s Bay Trail.


The talus slopes on the north side


The Heritage Trail is about 10km long and will be explored in the next year.   It will likely be a bit of a battle with navigation and windfall, but we were pleased to see some flagging tape on the lower end.

The road joins Highway 24 (at N51 28.221 W120 15.327) at the bottom of the Big Hill.   Going down the hill, Eakin Creek Canyon is a pull-off on the right.   I hiked to the waterfall and arch going up the right side of the creek

Phinetta Lake

Phinetta Lake

Artifact at the Arch and Falls

Artifact at the Arch and Falls

Natural arch

Natural arch

Eakin Falls

Eakin Falls

The Eakin Creek Road is about 24km long and worth a half day of exploration.

Lions Head Hills

The hills above Lions Head are a surprisingly pleasing area to hike.   There are many rock-faced hills one above the other with open forest and grassy slopes between.   There were a few mostly-dry ponds in sheltered pockets.   We started our hike on a side road that follows the transmission lines north up the hill, working our way up to get above private lands below.

Lions Head LoopAn old double track, then a cairned and flagged trail led us to the top of the Lion’s Mane where we had fine views to the east.

IMG_6743rWe were prepared to bushwack our way up through the hills, but we found trails all the way up to the top of the hills at 2800 feet.   The trails are there, but hikers must stay alert and make some route-finding decisions.

IMG_6749rRugged hills continue up so we found routes through the lower passes and gentler ridges

IMG_6746rAfter 4 km of climbing, we picked an open hilltop for lunch in the sun.   Martin Mountain dominated the skyline to the south with a mantle of November snow in front of the sun.   The hills to the north continued on towards McGregor Hill above Pinantan.

IMG_6751rThe Lions Head Hills are Crown Land, but there are some private lands close to Shuswap Road and just off McNulty Road to the north.   That leaves about 20 square kilometers of hiking in between (with some ingenuity a 12- 15 km loop can be done).   We saw little evidence of cattle grazing in the area, but if cattle are encountered, respect grazing rights by steering around them, closing gates (we didn’t see any), and observing any posted signage.

There are potential routes all along this long ridge from Lafarge to the grasslands by the transmission lines, an area 10km in an east-west line and an average of 2km in a north south direction.   North of McNulty Road there are also large sections of Crown land all the way to the Pinantan Road and beyond too, but anyone wanting to explore should check land status maps and watch for fences and signage, especially next to McNulty Road.

The hills have been subject to a lot of beetle kill and some small areas of lightning-caused  fires so fallen trees are the norm.   We found it quite reasonable for hikers but it would be problematic for mountain bikers and motorized vehicles.

We will explore this area again in the spring so watch for a new article at that time.