• Activities:

    Chillin, Camping, Fishing, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Spring, Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11.2 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    7545.9 Feet

Lake
Scenic
Waterfall

Camping at 2300m next to two gorgeous, glacier fed, alpine lakes. What a spectacular reward for a long days hike.

Trailhead

Owen Creek located by the East Banff National Park Boundary on the David Thompson Highway (#11). There is no sign for Owen Creek so keep you eyes open for a pullout approximately 2kms east of the Banff National Park toll gate. You will find the trail to the right of the creek when facing upstream.

Other descriptions indicate that this hike is 13kms, however our Garmin Phoenix 2 watch showed that we had hiked 18km from car to campsite. 

Route

Owen Creek itself is a beautiful day hike flowing through bright blue pools and waterfalls. Keep right as you follow the creek higher into the alpine. The trail runs in and out of the woods and can be hard to pick up, keep an eye out for rock cairns. Eventually the trail dips into the creek again and you continue to follow this until it runs dry. After approximately 10km from the trail head, a vast alpine landscape opens up. Boulder hop your way towards the meadows (work your way forward to the ridge line in front). You can choose to go up a ridge spine or stay down in the col, both will lead you to the meadows. In the col there is less of a steep descent. Here the boulders are reduced to rubble and you begin your descent to Upper Michelle Lake.

Camp + Activities

We chose to follow the left bank of the Upper lake. This led to a clearing and waterfall that flowed down into Lower Michelle Lake.

Choose your campsite wisely as this location is extremely windy - we camped next to the top of the waterfall. This offered stunning views and easy access to both lakes. We also built rock walls to shelter our tents from the wind. 

Should you wish to make a campfire, do be aware of the wind and practice Leave No Trace principles throughout your journey. You will need to bring firewood with you as there is very little vegetation by the lakes. 

This is a popular destination for heli-fishing as anglers try their hand at catching the Golden Trout. Michelle Lakes is also home to herds of Big Horn Sheep! 

Pack List

  • Suitable hiking clothes for weather with spare for the return trip
  • Wind breaker + waterproof layer 
  • Warm layers for the evenings
  • Tent + poles (3 season at the least) with guide lines for extra support against the wind 
  • Sleep gear: sleeping mat, sleeping bag + other personal comforts
  • Enough food for the duration of your trip 
  • Cooking equipment (I suggest you bring your own stove and not rely on having a campfire) 
  • Water + water purification systems
  • Fishing rod 
  • Camera
  • First aid kit 
  • Bear spray 
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

Overall rating: 

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The camping trip to the lakes, was an unforgettable experience and I would recommend it to anyone wanting a backcountry experience. Well written.

4 months ago
4 months ago

Tiffany Fernyhough

Outdoor Educator from Hong Kong + New Zealand | Currently in Alberta, Canada

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

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