The hike to Eaton Lake is tough, but super fun. It involves several waterfalls, a pretty forest and finishes up next to a pretty alpine lake surrounded by rocky peaks. This stunning area is down a (well maintained) logging road near Hope, BC (Canada) so if you are exploring this area, the adventure to this pretty lake should totally be on your radar!
We found this in the fantastic Destination Hikes: In and Around Southwestern British Columbia, the new book by Stephen Hui. Like his previous guide 105 Hikes, it’s full of great walks. I’ll review it when I have a moment.
Eaton Lake trail map
Eaton Lake – the basics
Distance: 8.5 km
Elevation Gain: 944m
High Point: 1364m
Time: 5.5 – 6 hours (with loads of breaks)
What to bring:
The 10 essentials, plus bug spray, bear spray and swimming things if you want to swim.
If you want to camp, you’ll want camping gear
Facilities: There loos and a campground at the trailhead as well as a space to camp at the lake.
Dogs: Yep, dog friendly if you can ford the creek with your dog.
How hard is it? Challenging because it is steep and has the creek crossing
Extra notes: If you plan to swim, remember to wash off your sunscreen and bug spray before you step into the water!
Eaton Lake – getting started
The trail to Eaton Lake is along Silver Skagit road near Hope, beyond Silver Lake Provincial Park. The trailhead is 16km down, on the left. There is a sign by the turnoff so you can’t miss it. From there, head through the campground and straight up the path next to the creek.
In the springtime Eaton Creek was a bit more than a creek! It looked more like a raging river. This is fantastic on hot days because the water cools down the air in the forest and creates a cool breeze.
First Creek Crossing
After around 15 minutes you’ll reach the first bridge over Eaton Creek. This is a pretty cool log bridge that feels sturdy, so you don’t need to worry about crossing the crashing waters.
Eaton Creek Falls
While you are standing on the log bridge (or maybe afterwards if you’re not keen on heights) look up! There is a fantastic waterfall right next to the trail.
If you fancy it; You can hike up a little closer to the waterfall.
The trail to Eaton Lake is pretty easy to follow. The path is obvious and not technical. It’s just quite steep! We have not done many hikes with over 900m elevation gain yet this year, so we all had to take it slowly while our muscles started to ache.
Still, there are plenty of things to distract you along the way. The steep sections do level out a few times to give you mini breaks. Or you can copy me, and stop for photos to catch your breath. I loved these queen’s cup lillies by the side of the trail.
The halfway point
This spot is slightly less than halfway but it *feels* about halfway. Can you spot the face on the tree? There are a couple of these fellas. There are benches along with a cooling creek next to the pathway so it’s a great spot to stop for a rest and look out for the faces in the trees.
There is another waterfall viewpoint very close to the trail; This one is incredible in the springtime! It’s hard to capture just how gushing this giant chute of water cascading down the mountain is in a photo; So I’ve included a video from insta. (click along to see them)
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As you can probably imagine, this is all a little loud. We couldn’t really talk along this section of the trail as our voices were drowned out by the waterfall.
The tough section
The next part of the trail to Eaton Lake is the steepest, most exhausting section. You hike up over 460m in about 1.5km. There are lots of switchbacks so it never gets technical, but this is a really good leg workout. Once you make it to the next creek crossing (with another really cool log bridge) you’ve finished the hard part.
Double Creek Crossing
The other big obstacle along this hike is the double creek crossing. The first crossing takes you over the fabulous log bridge below. However slightly further along the path, the next bridge is starting to fall apart. It didn’t look safe to cross at all. I read on alltrails that someone put flagging out to a safer spot to ford the creek, so we followed the flagging to that crossing-point and crossed together.
As you can see from all my photos, the water flow was very high due to snow melt. We were not sure if we could cross. Luckily we were with Lisa, the West Coast Hiker Girl, who has hiked several sections of the PCT, including some tough sounding creek crossings. Lisa told us to face up the river, in a line (with the strongest person at the front, taking the brunt of the flow.) However there was a rope on this trail, so we totally misunderstood her instructions, crossing in a horizontal line, while we held on to the rope.
This worked on the way to Eaton Lake, but on our return journey, the rope broke when we were in the center of the gushing glacial water! I was in the middle and wobbled so much that Marc needed to rebalance himself by falling to his knees in the water. (Argh!) In the end we managed to use Lisa’s instructions to cross safely, but I had a massive adrenaline rush from seeing Marc look like he was going to be swept away!
If you are considering this walk, and you’re not used to fording creeks, it might be better to wait until a little later in the year when the snow-melt has calmed down.
We made it to the beautiful Eaton Lake! The creek crossing actually refreshed our tired legs (glacial water is really good at fixing tired muscles!) so I was pretty bouncy again by the time we could see the views by Eaton Lake.
Eaton Lake Views
The lake water changes colour depending on the light and direction you look at it. It ranges from emerald green to a sort if slate grey. The mountains on the opposite side of the lake look pretty stunning from here!
The hike up might be a challenge, but it did feel worth it when we reached Eaton Lake to have this beautiful area to ourselves.
Lets talk about poop
The only horrible thing about this hike was the terrible stench that greeted us when we reached the lake. It seemed like someone (or several people!?) had not really considered leave no trace when they needed to do their business up here. There was a strong smell of urine (and worse) close to the trail as we first arrived at the lake. Urgh. It was pretty awful!
So, if you are camping at Eaton Lake and you need to poop, you’re going to want to dig a cathole as far from the lakeshore and creek as you can (the leave no trace website recommends 60m from water) Don’t just drop your pants and make a mess right by the trail or the lakeshore! It’s not hard to bring an extra plastic bag to pack out your toilet paper. No-one wants to see toilet paper flowers. My friend Vicky has a whole post about how to poop in the backcountry so if you’re unsure, take a read of this.
Luckily there was a breeze over the lake, so the stink dissipated while we looked at the views. Still, don’t be a s**t, please deal with your s**t.
I hope you like the look of this lovely hike! Lisa was keen to come back and camp here – I like the idea of that too; But I am not sure if I could carry a heavy backpack up the steep sections of the trail, or through the creek! It would be an incredible place to sleep though!
If you fancy something a little easier near Hope, I have several options on my main Canada page. Or click on the pins below to save this for later.