Paget Lookout in Yoho National Park offers great views – it’s an ideal hike for a nice sunny day. I took the trail head from beside the Great Divide Lodge, off the side of the Trans-Canada Highway, by Wapta Lake. The trail climbs steadily through the forested lower slopes of Paget Peak, offering glimpsing views south towards the Lake O’Hara area and back east over to Lake Louise – on parts of the hike the lines of ski runs at the Lake Louise Ski Area are clearly visible.
The views from the path get better and better once past the turning for Sherbrooke Lake, and you keep climbing up towards the lookout. The vegetation changes to more Whitebark pines the higher you get and the trail widens as you finally get a glimpse of the fire lookout.
I stopped and went and looked around inside the fire lookout. It’s incredible to think that this little wooden building, built in 1944, has stood up here through all this time. From the Parks Canada signboard inside it tells me that this lookout was manned May through to September each year, with their personnel expected to be on the lookout for forest fires 24 hours a day as well as making weather recordings. The views are enough to make you envious of this career choice, to be able to spend your days guarding the views over the Yoho Valley. But in reality how tough would it have been? Though the lookout isn’t too remote today, it would have been more so in the past.
I ate my lunch in the little wooden fire lookout and then it was back onto the trail. I’d read about Paget Peak in the book ‘Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies’ by Alan Kane, and on the drive to the trail head couldn’t make up my mind if I’d do the summit or not. having reached the lookout and eaten my lunch, I knew I wanted to attempt it.
Carrying along the trail various cairns and pieces of luminescent marker tape marked the way. Turning around to admire the view, I could see Wapta Lake and the valley which leads to Lake O’Hara.
The trail leaves the defined forest and carries on over loose scree – thinking back poles would have been useful, especially for the descent from the summit!
Looking westwards from the top of Paget Peak you can see Sherbrooke Lake with it’s turquoise waters created by the glacial rock flour suspended in the water scattering the sunlight.Looking North towards Lake Louise (you can just make out the ski area in the distance) The view from the summit looking South Northwards
After spending some time at the top of Paget Peak and taking a few photographs, I slowly made my way back down. I really should have thought about the hike a bit more before I left and carried some hiking poles with me, it would have made the descent so much easier. Nevertheless I made it back down to the fire lookout with relative ease.
I made my way back down the trail to the parking lot at quite a pace, the weather had been good so there wasn’t any real need to hurry.
The sunny Kicking Horse Valley in Yoho National Park
Overall this was a really enjoyable hike, the one regret I had was just not bringing my hiking poles with me for the summit. I strongly recommend reading the book ‘Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies’ by Alan Kane for anyone thinking of doing the summit from Paget Lookout as well as carrying a detailed topographic map for route finding.
© RockiesOutdoors 2014