Trails to Hidden Lake and Fossil Falls

To Hidden Lake
From the west shore section of Upper K Lake Trail, most people take the old trail along the overflow channel which starts at the hiking sign. The sign is intended to keep people on the upper lake trail, but it also serves as a marker for those headed to Aster Lake. To make it absolutely clear, the words “Aster Lake” and “Hidden Lake” and arrows are scratched on the sign. This is still the best way in, in my opinion: the trail is short, flat and has minimal deadfall.

There is another trail to Hidden Lake that starts from the upper lake trail farther south near the resurgences of Foch Creek at 289084. The idea is to shortcut across to the lake at 285079. In its present state I don‘t like it much. The trail is obvious, but someone needs to go over it with a chainsaw! In addition you have to climb up over a ridge. One interesting thing is the junction with a secondary trail just before you reach Hidden Lake. Looks like the idea is to make a forest trail around the lake for when it is impossible to walk along the shoreline. Has anyone actually tried to follow it?

Fossil Falls

Fossil Falls

To Fossil Falls
Usually the falls are seen from afar on the climb to Aster Lake. For waterfall lovers, getting in close is a must. It is, after all, the premier falls in K Country. Go on a hot summer day when the decibel count is at its greatest from melting glaciers, and take bug spray. It can be reached on a day trip, but takes longer than you might think as there is no trail after you leave the Aster Lake trail and the close-up view must be earned. Be prepared to be out for 8 hours plus from Upper Lake parking lot.

After walking around Hidden Lake to the south end, climb the forested headwall. From the cairn and rock seat at the top, leave Aster Lake trail and walk straight ahead through a gap to the left of a treed knoll. Descend a little, then traverse the scree slope, noting the odd small cairn. Stay above the patch of tall trees and continue traversing scree to a thick belt of vegetation (small spruce and willow) on either side of a side creek. Push through to a small meadow below a crag. At its far side near the top is some flagging. This signals the worst part of the route—a much longer push through head-high bushes on a slant. There’s lots of flowers mixed up in the branches and consequently lots of horse flies and biting flies waiting to catch the sweaty hiker at a disadvantage. It’s a relief to reach easy ground below the falls and cool off in the mist! And, yes, the falls are noisy and magnificent.

So this is the route that we know. Has anyone descended to the creek from the cairn and tried following it up? Some day I’d like to descend to the creek and head down-valley to look at the very impressive middle falls that can be seen and heard from Hidden Lake.

Tony thrashing through the bush before the falls.

Tony thrashing through the bush before the falls.

As near to the base of the falls as we can get without a wetting from the spray.

As near to the base of the falls as we can get without a wetting from the spray.

Hidden Lake Map

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2 comments… add one
  • Dick Aug 6, 2012, 5:15 pm

    Went up to Aster Lake yesterday Aug 6/12. The bushwhacking trail about (40-50 m east of the flooded Hidden Lk. outflow to the first wall) felt like 3-4 km of uneven parallel bars and beams and pommel horse. Only thing missing was the spring board. Much less traumatic to walk the Wabamun limestone pavement on the east shore when the water receeds. Also on the Aster goat track there is a reasonable 30-50 m wide snowpack at the sidehill-headwall transition which really deserves crampons, especially since you almost certainly will be airborne over the cataract if you slip, or at least a bloody twisted mess in the 3-5 m of exposed rock forming the cataract lip. Just IMHO.

  • Justin Apr 28, 2011, 8:08 am

    Me and my familey have taken both trails around the lake. The first time through the trees and the second time along the shore. The first time we went up the water was to high and we didnt even know there was a shore line trail. The second time we decided to try the shore line as we had stumbled this time onto the proper trail (got to watch a Moose swim across the lake). The shore line was allot easyer and the only way we would go now but we made the trail in the trees fun and it was also nice to see the old forrest. I would recomend for anyone who plans on doing this hike a few times to do the tree line trail at least once but be prepared to climb over and unde manny trees (my familey made a game that you couldnt touch the ground and we made up allot of ground running along tree to tree).

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