Elk Lakes Backpacking to Petain Falls


Trip Details
Mountain Range: 
Mountain Subrange: 
Attained Summit?: 
Trip Date: 
Sunday, August 19, 2012 to Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Elevation Gain (m): 
Total Distance (km): 
Difficulty Notes: 

The hardest part of the hike is now between the lower and upper Elk Lakes thanks to 2013 flooding. The final bit of hiking to Petain Falls is also strenuous.

Trip Report

On the weekend of August 17-19 I took my two kids and one of Niko's friends into the ACC hut in Elk Lakes Provincial Parks. We did the approach via Fox Creek from the Elk Pass parking lot in Peter Lougheed Provincial Park in Alberta.


I did a long day trip with my cousin back in the early 2000's where we biked into the warden cabin from Elk Lakes parking lot via the hydroline trail and then hiked all the way to Petain falls before hiking back to our bikes and biking home again. I remember looking at the cabin and wishing we could stay there. When I found out that the cabin had converted into an ACC hut I knew that I was destined to go stay there one day.


The Elk Lakes ACC hut is perfect for parties looking for a fairly easy-to-access hut in a beautiful area. The hike in is relatively flat (for a mountain backpacking trip) and only took us 2.5 hours at a very slow pace. Lots of entries in the hut register about kids and families skiing in, in the winter and my kids instantly wanted to do that.


The only bummer in the summer is that people can drive into the park from the BC side (pretty rough road though) and so when we got there, there was a family with young kids / cooler / water bottles and whole 9 yards which took away from the 'wilderness' feeling a bit. But they were very friendly and took all our garbage out for us so I'm NOT complaining too loudly!! ;-)


[The kids at the Elk Pass trailhead in Alberta.]

[It's a stiff hike right off the bat, but after a few good hills the trail flattens out pretty good.]

[Bear poo EVERYWHERE on the trail!! And pretty fresh too. Berry season is upon us.]

[Entering Elk Lakes Provincial Parks in BC. They do a much more solid sign than the Alberta parks - not to mention all those boardwalks!]

[A glorious day]

[Lots of fun on the trail. Even the bugs weren't too bad.]

[Nearing the hut, Petain waterfall / basin / mountain is at the base of the mountains far in the distance at the right.]

[Mount Fox - a difficult scramble.]

[The hut is beautifully reno'd]

[Lots of room to sleep upstairs and one 2-person bunk downstairs.]

[Enjoying the lack of bugs in the cabin.]

[A view from the outside.]

[Swimming in Lower Elk Lake on a hot day. The water was too cold to completely submerge though - and the bottom was pretty hard on the feet without water shoes. Petain falls / basin on the far left, Mount Fox looming over the kids.]

[Enjoying the cold water.]

[Brother and sister.]

[The cabin stayed a lot cooler than I expected.]

[Playing outside the cabin. The firewood is shared with the campground that's at the lower Elk Lake. It's about 1km down a good trail and there are wheelbarrows to assist in transporting it.]

[Playing games at night.]

[A good book]

[Everyone's reading]

[Hiking home - excellent trail and very well maintained.]

[The kids enjoyed the hiking more than I thought they would (big packs!)]

[There are some elevation changes on the trail.]

[Brilliant Indian Paintbrush]


[Nice colors.]

[It's more fun to ski down...]

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