13km to Lillian/14.5km to Galatea (round trip)
Elevation gain: 700m to Lillian/800m to Galatea
Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring
*** Well….lets just say… my opinion of this hike is based on carrying 40-50lbs on my back (all our gear) and it was 27 degrees out!!!
This was such a good trip and a wonderful trail! Thanks to Alberta Parks
and the recent renovations from the 2013 flood, this trail cannot be missed. It is well maintained with many beautiful bridges allowing you to cross without getting your boots wet.
One good thing about this trail is it is mostly in the trees with only a couple of sections where your standing in the beating sun. I do realize that if we didn’t have heavy packs and it wasn’t so hot this probably wouldn’t have been a highlight of the day, however, considering these factors it certainly was this time 😬. Luckily, most of the lake trails do not have a lot of sun exposure and remain in the tree line.
The trail has a gradual incline for the first 5 kms or so with the last km gaining the final elevation in a section of steep hills. However, just when you think they’re almost over.. .. surprise!!!! they are not 🙄 That being said, this is a great trail for beginners and kids as it’s strictly cardio no skills required.
Once you get to Lillian lake, if your camping, you will follow the trail to the back of the lake and take a left towards the bathroom signs. There you will find 16 camping pads. The ones with the lake view are now on wooden flats with railings and these will be taken fast. We were the last to arrive around 4 pm and got the last sight down wind of the washrooms…..👍🏼…Luckily… it was a very nice porta potty! Please note! This site requires a backcountry permit purchased from Alberta Parks online or any of there information offices. It costs $12 and it’ll make sure that you did not take a spot from someone who has pre-paid. A couple arrived after us and there was no pad available for them.
Middle of the image, just above the tent the super nice solar composting porta potty! I figured it needed a feature because its certainly an upgrade from the green space machines that used to be here!
If you want to carry on past Lillian Lake, it is another km and a half up to Galatea. Again, the trail is well marked where to continue and although it is straight up, this section isn’t difficult either. This beautiful rich blue lake is a great place to go for a dip! The rocky shore line makes it so you don’t sink waist deep into some questionable sandy buggy ground, so in my opinion, on a hot day… do the final km!! If your feeling like super (wo)man you can continue to the back side of the lake and head to the little Galatea Lake just over the ridge line as well. We did not do this as we brought our rods and chose to fish instead. However, there apparently is no fish in the final lake!
If your wanting to make this more than a one day trip, you can continue on to Ribbon Lake campground. Our plan was to head into Lillian lake for the first night and then head up to Galatea lakes and continue another 3-4km into Ribbon Lake campground. This trail was recently re opened and is supposed to be super nice! If you don’t know much about Ribbon Lake, the other access is from Ribbon Creek which is about the same distance to a water fall and then there is a chain link section to come up and around the mountain into the lake. This may deter a lot of people unless you’re looking to truly get away from the crowds, then this might be a good loop for you! We did pass a couple people who were coming down from doing that trek and they said it was relentless but well worth it!!
Overall , this was a great weekend. Lots of families camping, people having a fire at the group camp circle and we eventually even caught some fish! This is a popular campsite, so if your looking for peace and quiet this isn’t the one for you. It is great for a family or first time backpackers as you wont feel so isolated.
Written by Leah Szucki