Twin Lakes - Yamnuska Natural Area - Hiking Alberta

 

Twin Lakes are a pristine oasis in Yamnuska Natural Area of Bow Valley west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

There is a short hike from parking across Hwy 1A near the entrance to Francis Cooke Regional Landfill to good, rolling road beneath power lines heading north-east. 

Examination of the map on Page 125 of Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide, 4th Edition, Volume 3, indicates a hike of about one and a half kilometers (a mile) north-east beneath the power lines should discover a trail junction heading north-west for a short distance into the Yamnuska Natural Area to arrive at tiny Twin Lakes.

Fortuitously, there is an easily accessible knob left (north) of the power line road when the required distance seems about right.  An off-trail hike to the top of the knob is motivated and executed to obtain an excellent photo of Yamnuska's distinctive face in the distance.  

From the top of the knob, Twin Lakes are obvious below.  It is a lucky break because the short continuing hike along the road reveals no trail into the lakes.  There were two tiny, partially hidden cairns at either side of a single Juniper bush but there is no discernible trail in the clearing between two partially forested knobs.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

The off-trail hike continues north towards the known location of the tiny lakes and  directly towards the south face of massive Goat Mountain in the distance on the other side of the Yamnuska Natural Area.  The scree switchbacks along the drainage towards the notch in Goat Mountain are visible in the distance and bring back good memories of the unsuccessful mission to locate Douglas Fir Springs.

Tending right, a scant trail becomes evident and leads past blocking dead fall to the shoreline of the tiny, beautiful and pristine Twin Lakes.  A slight breeze ripples the surface and moderates the heat of a warm afternoon.  The rustle of shining, Spring foliage creates a calming audible companion to the spectacular beauty of the natural, spring-fed lakes.  A narrow spit of land separates the lakes.  They are not identical twins.  The east lake is smaller.  I call them 'The Twins'.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

Close proximity makes the lakes a challenge to photograph with a lower end camera.  The tiny stretch of soft mud which separates the two lakes is only a few centimeters (inches) above the surface of the water.  There is copious evidence of wildlife activity including adult bears with cubs, elk, deer and coyote.  The shoreline indicates the depth of water can vary by several feet so there will be times when the twin lakes are one.  On the separating bar of land there is a small forested rise which affords better opportunity for photographs.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

On the hike around the larger lake there is an opportunity to photograph the smaller lake on the other side of the mud bar separator.  A single loon graces the large lakes surface on the off-trail away from shoreline to find the route south-west past Sink Lake and back to the landfill site.  The effort is unsuccessful as game trails dwindle to off-trail and potential opportunities fail to locate documented trail which is likely no longer there.  Arial observation would be ideal.  A good sized knob would be helpful but there is a never a handy knob nearby when you really need one.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, CanadaTwin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

After several failed attempts from both sides of the larger lake, defeat is conceded and return to the power line road begins the return hike to parking.

 

Twin Lakes, Yamnuska Natural Area, Bow Valley, Alberta, Canada

 

The trail map in the Kananaskis Country Trail Guide is extremely valuable for locating spectacular features within Yamnuska Natural Area.  This experience indicates some trails are no longer obvious in some locations. 

The Yamnuska Natural Area is a goldmine of isolated natural wonders very worthy of a visit.  The entire area is not that large and is surrounded by major highways and prominent natural features, so getting lost would be difficult if not impossible.  For some of the available adventures, a comfort level in the off-trail and light bushwhacking arena would be an advantage.  Or, take an experienced backcountry friend or guide with you.

Photographs for this short, easy hike into Twin Lakes at the Yamnuska Natural Area in the Bow Valley Corridor west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada were captured on the afternoon of June 8, 2015.

 

 

 

 

 

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