Helen Lake Trail is a 16.7 kilometer heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Improvement District No. 9, Alberta, Canada that features a lake and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
16.7 km
ELEVATION GAIN
754 m
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

fishing

hiking

horseback riding

nature trips

rock climbing

skiing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

wildlife

bugs

muddy

rocky

scramble

snow

On the Icefields parkway, park in the Helen lake parking across from crowfoot glacier parking overview. Nice trail into the meadows, passing a lake where you can fish for small brook trout.

hiking
1 month ago

Awesome hike!

I would definitely do this again, but there’s a rushing waterfall you have to pass so I’d go next time even earlier in the morning (~8am) to avoid jumping across wet rocks. Also bring gaters depending on the weather! Helen lake is pretty, but make the extra trek up to Cirque peak and have lunch up there if you can. Although it’s usually snowy up there.

2 months ago

Awesome hike. A nice gradual incline with incredible views once you get through the forest. Did it in early October and it was quite snowy where snowshoes were needed for the last quarter of the hike.

3 months ago

Hiked to dolomite pass above Helen Lake.

Nice hike. 2 mile uphill to start, then easy fast long terrain to Lake Helen. Easy up to the pass and Cirque Peak above. Went up a little way but didn’t attempt to summit because of snow and the fact we really didn’t know the route

hiking
3 months ago

Easy to follow trail, not too steep. Great wildflowers and lots of marmots. Can be a lot if people on the trail. First half of the hike is in the forest (with a number of good view points across the valley), second half of the trail is wide open.

hiking
3 months ago

Really beautiful hike even with the smoke! This trail is moderately trafficked enough to have some trail to yourself but not too sparse that you'd have to worry about wildlife. We brought out two small dogs (15lbs each) and they had a blast. The hike up to Helen lake it picturesque (especially when it opens up into the "sound of music" fields) and the small ascent to dolomite ridge opens into an old ice field that is absolutely stunning. From here you can summit to Cirque peak but due to the smokiness it wasn't worth it for us and most of the other hikers on the trail. Overall it was a great half a day and would do it again. 2h up, 1h 45min down.
PS: if you hear a small child screaming, it's most likely a marmot, but double check.

hiking
4 months ago

Hiked on July 28, 2018

Tips
• Washrooms and gravel parking at the trail head.
• Parking may be limited so you might have to park across the highway at the Bow Lake lookout.
• Do not leave the trail as the surrounding area is extremely sensitive and potentially dangerous.
• Mosquitos are very active compared to other trails in the area so bring repellant.
• Bring bear spray and make sure it is easily accessible for the entirety of the hike.

The trail hosts stunning views for the latter 2/3 of the hike, whereas the first part of the hike runs through the woods. There are some steep sections as well as a few breathtaking lookout points on the way to the lake. Depending on the season, you’ll likely encounter some wildflowers and a stream crossing. Helen Lake can be quite cool compared to the rest of the hike so dress/pack accordingly. Overall, Helen Lake Trail offers beautiful views and is moderately difficult—suitable for experienced beginners.

hiking
4 months ago

Spectacular hike. Gradual ascent so not difficult at all. Trail was busy on Saturday. Weather was perfect.

hiking
4 months ago

Loved this hike! I enjoyed the wooded portion at the beginning as much as the amazing vistas once we emerged above the tree line. Spectacular!

hiking
4 months ago

I went with my 14 year old son and 10 year old daughter. It was a very nice hike with lots of changing scenery. My daughter loved the streams we passed and the flowers and mushrooms. We started the hike at 3:45pm and finished it at 7:45. It was really nice. Wish we could have gone on a little bit it was too late. We saw the grizzly bear just off the path and made sure I made lots of noise on our way back. We also saw some other wildlife and was very nice weather for the day (Saturday). The incline at the start was a good incline for my daughter but she did good. She liked the hike more than moose mountain the week before. But my son liked both hikes a lot and wouldn’t say one was better over the other. Make sure you bring bear spray as I have heard this area is frequent with grizzly bears (heard this after the hike from a fellow experienced hiker).

hiking
4 months ago

The trail head was very easy to find, there was signage and parking (overflow parking across the HWY). The trail starts off with a good incline, definitely enough to warm you up, but nothing too crazy. You then head out to a nice meadow, one of the most scenic trails I have been on. Took around an hour to reach Helen Lake. Take the time to do the Dolomite Trail, well worth the view!

hiking
4 months ago

Very nice hike that gets the heart rate going with a solid (not not unreasonable) incline for the first section before opening up in a beautiful valley leading to the lake. Of note are a few very small stream crossings that have good rock placements to help you out and lots of roots that require some attention at the start/end. Trail was quite busy when we visited (Saturday, 11am start) and the parking area was already full but we parked at the viewing spot for Bow Lake right near the entrance to the trailhead. Highly recommend tacking on at least part of the Dolomite Trail that takes you up to a fantastic viewing area above Lake Katherine!

hiking
4 months ago

One of the most beautiful scenic hikes! Alpine meadows, wild flowers, waterfalls, burnt forests. Good incline with a fair number of short but steep ascents so definitely not an “easy” hike for those of sedentary or average fitness level - if Johnston Canyon or Grassi Lakes Trail is your baseline for easy, Helen Lake would be moderate to tough. Several groups of hikers we passed to and from the lake warned us of grizzly sightings within 50 feet of the trail in the open meadow portion of the trail so we had to make a lot of noise for the last part of the trail. Bear spray is a must! Also it snowed lightly at the lake so bring warm wind proof layers.

4 months ago

Fabulous hike! Good incline for the first couple of kilometres but nothing too strenuous.

5 months ago

Beautiful hike. One of my top five, I loved every second. Gorgeous views all the way up. Meadows full of wildflowers and beautiful waterfalls. I was nervous about bears but there was enough people that it eased my mind- bear spray is a must.

hiking
5 months ago

Great Hike albeit fairly steep in some parts. Lots of wildlife on a trail and especially in the tundra where friendly hoary marmots come to greet you and lick your shoes to say hello ;) . Great panorama of the Bow valley and lake and crowfoot glacier along the way. There is also tons of wild flowers in the various meadows you pass during the hike during the June/July months.

5 months ago

Amazing hike! The snow has melted on the main trail but if you go on the upper lookout peak past the lake then beware that there still is some snow if you want the full experience. It is shallow and easy to traverse.

hiking
5 months ago

This is the most scenic hike I have ever been on out of the 30 or so ive done in the last decade. It is my second time hiking into helen lake and I could do it 100 more times and it would still be just as amazing. The hike itself is not too challenging. We hiked crypt lake 2 days before so we were still a bit sore from that. The beggining of the hike is the most challenging, but I believe this /to be manageable for most able bodied people. The trail continues to the right of helen lake to the southwest ridge of cirque peak. You need to do this portion of the hike! The views become tremendously more brilliant and you will have a view of a dolomite pass, watermelon peak and you can see the trail you walked in on and we managed to get a cell signal up top! All in all this hike is one of the best ive ever done and it is truly a treasure of the canadian rockies!!

hiking
5 months ago

Fantastic hike to Helen Lake and then to the ridge to the east. The snow has melted from the trail. The trail is wet with runoff but no problems hiking. The views are amazing, a very worthwhile hike. Lots of marmots to entertain the visitors. This is a busy trail.

5 months ago

e' un bel trail...pare davvero di essere sulle nostre Dolomiti...e' una gigantografia delle Dolomiti. Paesaggi e panorami molto belli e suggestivi. il Canada e' davvero immenso!

hiking
5 months ago

What an amazing trail with rewarding beautiful views after only a short period of hiking! The trail is muddy and snowy and slippery in a few sections still, and the last kilometre is all snow covered, at times knee deep. The lake remains frozen, but it was all still breathtaking!

6 months ago

Went yesterday and almost got to the lake. Last mile was waist deep snow—we followed someone’s snow steps until they stopped! Might be melted next week! Otherwise gorgeous lookouts on the way up and fairly easy ascents.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Great to take someone who aren't entirely sure of their fitness, with a good mix of steeper ascensions with a short flater spots so we can keep going for longer periods.

hiking
Monday, September 25, 2017

Gorgeous trail. I could hike this trail all the time and not get tired of it. It was a bit icy and snowy when we did it (late Sept) but still fine with good hiking boots. We were going to go beyond the lake to Cirque Peak but the weather shifted when we got to the lake and started to snow so we headed back down. Still entirely worthwhile to just go to the lake. Beautiful scenery the whole way. Normally I prefer loop trails but this was so pretty I don't mind the out and back route. Easy amount of effort for the views on this trail. It's a new favourite.

hiking
Sunday, September 24, 2017

One of the most beautiful hikes on the Ice-fields parkway. Easy hike to Helen Lake then a moderate hike to the above ridge. Incredible views. We went a step further today and did Cirque Peak, in 2 feet of snow. What an I incredible experience. Harder yes, but definitely worth it.

hiking
Saturday, September 16, 2017

Beautiful day, top of cirque the Hoary Marmot was chirping us non stop! Next time up the Dolomite ridge.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Very nice trail with some quite steep climbs.

hiking
Saturday, July 22, 2017

This is my favorite hike in the Rockies! It only takes about an hour before you reach the meadow and the spectacular views. There's some steep sections but nothing too difficult. Once you reach the lake you're going to want to climb the headwall. It only takes about half hour or so and the panoramic views are simply amazing! It took me about 4 hours return which made for a great day hike. I'd definitely recommend this hike.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Was tying for Dolomite Pass and Cirque peak but a thunder storm rolled in, so only made it to Helen Lake. Small section of Avalanche debris on the way up, otherwise trail is in great condition

hiking
Saturday, July 08, 2017

Great trail although there an avalanche went across one portion leaving some snow and fallen trees that partially block the trail. Cirque peak is well worth the additional effort from the lake but it is steep and very loose rock.

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