- Difficulty: Hard
- Warnings: The trail access may be inaccessible during winter. Check social media feeds below for current trail status updates.
- Wheelchair accessible: No
- High-clearance 4×4 advised to access trailhead? Yes
- Best seasons: Summer
- Distance (return meadows): 7.2 km/4.5 mi Distance (return lake): 8.4 km/5.2 mi
- Approx. time to meadows (return): 6-7 hrs return (plus accessing the trailhead will take approx. 45 mins from Valemount)
- Approx. time to lake (return): 7-8 hrs return (plus accessing the trailhead will take approx. 45 mins from Valemount)
- Elevation gain to meadows: 2530 ft/771 m Elevation gain to lake: 2625 ft/800 m
- Steepest grade: Steep to meadows; very steep to lake (30-40% grade)
- Viewpoints: Several: Kinbasket Lake, meadow flowers (in late June/early July), rock mesa, alpine lakes and waterfalls.
- Geocache points: Unknown
- Closest bathroom/outhouse: Horse Creek campground at the bottom of the access road.
- Cell service? Not comprehensive, but in spots.
- Gear to bring: Bring 2 L water per person, mosquito spray, bug shirts/pants or long sleeves/pants.
The Lily Meadows Hike – also known as Bulldog Ridge Trail – is a scene out of Sound of Music during late June to early July. For centuries, bulb-digging grizzlies have cultivated yellow glacier lilies. Here and there you’ll see freshly turned earth – evidence of a bear’s busy paw. Apparently the bulbs are slightly sweet in taste. Even if you miss the lily explosion, you won’t be disappointed. Beyond the meadows, the mountain peak sits atop the meadow like a flat-top haircut – a rocky mesa. Skirting to the left and over a rockslide, you’ll discover a a turquoise lake as you get closer to the Horse Creek headwaters and its glaciers. The groundcover of heather feels amazing on weary bare feet. Some hikers swim in the frigid water. High above, you may see a hawk or osprey circling slowly. Beyond the lake are more views, but many hikers turn around here. Rather than back tracking, you can follow the lake west where the water flows down a cliff. The waterfall isn’t huge, and nimble hikers can stand next to where it drops and get an unparalleled view of the Kinbasket Lake valley. The descent gets tricky from here; it is very steep and you have to pick your way down another rockslide just beyond the waterfall. Route finding is also a problem, as the trail here is not ribboned and it’s easy to lose your way if you veer from the creek. The descent follows Horse Creek closely until it meets up with the old better-tread trail. A GPS device is very useful here.
Best Parts: There's something for everyone – mountain top views, alpine flowers, meadows, huge bluffs, waterfalls, alpine lakes and more!
Worst Parts: There are some very steep, rocky sections that are slippery when wet and it’s hard to grip unless you’re wearing good hiking shoes. The bottom trail becomes very soggy during wet weather. Hiking poles, good shoes and caution are recommended for these sections, as they become extremely slippery. Be sure to make lots of noise so you don’t surprise any bears and they have time to leave to avoid an encounter. The mosquitoes and flies are bad during the summertime.
Trailhead coordinates: 52.666797°, -118.974782° Insert into Google Maps or GPS
Access road GPS track
Meadows & Lake GPS
How to access/where to park: You'll need a high clearance vehicle for the access road. From Valemount, travel south on Whiskey Fill Rd to Canoe Forest Service Rd. Turn left onto that road and travel approx. 20 km (there are km markers along the way). Head towards the marina and campgrounds (stay to the right at any forks). You'll pass the marina and hit two forks in the road – keep left at both of these. Follow the logging road approx. 8 km until you hit a bridge over a small creek. Park just before or just after the bridge, parking to the side so other traffic can still pass. WARNING: there is often active logging on this road. Proceed with caution. Click here for Google Map directions to the base of the LOGGING road (no google directions to trailhead which is further up this logging road)