Hiking to Jade Lakes was one of the best hikes we did last summer. You can start with the trail through the Meadows-in-the-Sky to Miller and Eva Lakes. But if you have some extra energy, you can continue on to the beautiful, secluded Upper Jade Lake. This trail starts at over 1800m, so your car does the main slog up the mountain; Leaving you to enjoy the alpine meadows, lake and incredible mountain views. This post will describe the route if you’d like to visit all the lakes as a day hike. We visited Balsam Lake, Heather Lake, Miller Lake, Jade Lakes and finished with Eva Lake.
The tough part about this hike is that you descend around 400m from the high point above Jade Lakes. That means you need to re-climb up that 400m on the return journey. This can be a bit exhausting if you are not used to gaining over a kilometer in elevation gain in one day.
Jade Lakes trail map
Jade Lakes – the basics
Distance: 25 km+ (my phone thinks it was 29km)
Elevation gain: 1280 m
Highest Point: 2180m (for Jade pass) or 2260m (if you scramble up the extra peak)
Time: 9 -10 hours
What to bring:
The 10 Essentials
Swimming things if you fancy a dip
There are loos at the trailhead as well at Eva Lake, Miller Lake and Jade Lake.
Dogs: No. You cannot bring dogs to the alpine meadows in Revelstoke National Park
How hard is it? Challenging. Not because of the path, that is easy to follow and not technical. It is just quite long with a lot of elevation gain for a day hike. It is also tough to have so much elevation gain on the return journey when your legs are tired. The only technical section was the scramble up to the peaks just off Jade Pass (which is not part of the main trail.)
Jade Lakes – Getting Started
I have a whole post about the first half of this hike, so click through for more details. Basically you need to park at the top of the Meadows-in-the-Sky parkway in Revelstoke National Park. From there you follow a well trampled route to the summit, then past Heather Lake and Miller Lake (my photos below.) If you fancy an easy walk to see the flower-filled alpine meadows as well as a jewel-like glacial lake, then you can stop here.
Miller Lake from above
You’ll probably want to stop for a while to admire the beautiful Miller Lake. From this point the trail becomes a bit rockier, steeper and more fun! Follow the trail through the piles of rocks above the lake. You’ll be treated to gorgeous views of Mount Begbie off on the other side of Revelstoke as well as fabulous birds-eye views of Miller Lake.
How steep is the trail?
The trail gets steeper as you get closer to Jade Pass, but like the other well-built trails we have found in Canadian National Parks, it never gets crazily steep. The switchbacks are added in just the right spots so your heart might be working hard, but it’s easy to follow.
About half way up the section between Miller Lake and Jade Pass, there is a stream that seems to spring from the rocks. This area is carpeted with flowers, and you can peek through the trees down to the Miller Lake.
Jade pass is the best viewpoint of the day! You’ll have your first glimpse of the objective for the day – Jade Lakes. You also get incredible views deep into Revelstoke National Park. We had a break and a snack here as it is such a pretty spot!
This is the view from Jade Pass back where we just came from. That tree covered mountain with the green grassy patches is the Meadows-in-the-Sky – we started on the far side of that.
If you have a little extra energy, there is a small peak just off the main path, with even better views of the surrounding mountains. It’s only an extra 40m to scramble up here, and you may have it all to yourself. The rocky mountain that towers over Jade Lake is called Inverness SW4. It looks fabulous from here!
Jade Pass to Jade Lake
This is where you need to decide how much puff you have left. If you area already feeling tired, it might be best to make do with the views of Jade Lake from above. However if you are still full of beans, you can follow the trail down towards Jade Lake. We did this trail in August, and there were still plenty of snow patches that we had to clamber over. If you do this hike earlier in the summer you will definitely need microspikes for the top section near Jade Pass.
The trail is pretty rocky close to Jade Pass, but as you wiggle your way down into the valley you gradually hike into patches of alpine flowers, then trees.
Wildflowers on the Jade Lake Trail
I loved how the sides of the mountain were so covered in Dr Seuss poof-flowers (anemones) and red paintbrushes.
The path is easy to follow apart from a couple of places where you need to clamber over patches of snow. The path wiggles to avoid steep sections of terrain, but this is great because it means you keep facing new directions to see more fantastic mountain views.
Jade Lake Campground
If you have a backcountry camping permit, then you can pitch your tent in view of this beautiful turquoise waters. I would love to return to camp here as it was such a stunning area. This time, we stopped here for lunch before hiking back the way we came (plus an extra detour to Eva Lake.)
We were the only people at the lake at noon on a Saturday in August. Isn’t that mad? If this location was anywhere near Vancouver, or in one of the other nearby National Parks I would have expected it to be heaving.
Lunch at Jade Lake
We had a fantastic lunch to go with this beautiful scenery. I have mentioned this spot before, but whenever we drive through or visit Revelstoke, we stop at La Baguette for some food. They have the most delicious freshly made bagels, sandwiches and treats. Although stopping off to buy sandwiches got us off to a late start, we were really happy to munch them!
Possibly the best loo with a view so far!?
I might have to update my loo with a view (Canadian Rockies edition) because the toilet at the Jade Lakes campground has to have one of the best loo-views in the world. You could just see the lower Jade Lake along with a backdrop of mountains. The loo did not have a door, so you are forced to contemplate the beauty of the Canadian Rockies while you do your business.
The return journey is what might make this trail a challenge for some hikers. There are lots of large undulations and elevation gain for the return journey. If you are used to hiking to a high viewpoint, then zooming downhill on the way back, then this trail might come as a shock. Still, as the trail is never very steep, most hikers that are used to long day hikes will be fine.
If you look at the topographic map at the top of the page, there are two small peaks just above Jade Pass. We visited one on the way to the lakes, then scrambled up the other on the way back. The views from the taller peak (to the North) were spectacular! I have to share some photos. This is the view South East, towards Jade Pass and Inverness SW4 (the mountain that towers above the Upper Jade Lake)
This photo is looking down Southwest above the trail you need to hike back on. Jade Pass is to the left, the tree-covered mountain in the distance is the Meadows-in-the-Sky, where you need to get back to. The Mount Begbie is looking epic, off in the distance.
This is the view of Mount Williamson (Northeast). Apparently you can climb up this one from Eva Lake (which we visited on the way back.) It looks like a tough scramble from here.
Here is the scenery looking East, further into Mount Revelstoke National Park.
There is a flat bench like section up here. We hiked out to the end for extra views. Aaaand this is the view looking West (well, maybe Northwest.)
You might not fancy an extra peak tacked on to an already long day hike. But if you can manage this extra mini scramble, it was the highlight of our day.
We also took a mini detour (it’s 1.2km extra each way) to Eva Lake on our return. You can see more about that section of the trail on my previous post to Miller and Eva Lakes. Even if you are a little tired, it’s pleasant to walk the whole way around the lake.
It only took an hour to walk back from Eva Lake through golden hour when Revelstoke Mountain National Park was lit up beautifully. We were pretty tired by the time we’d finished the hike, but felt incredibly lucky to have such perfect weather for our adventure. It is such a beautiful area, with so few hikers (after the popular trail to Miller Lake.)
Panoramas from above Jade Pass
I’ll finish with a few panoramas from the scramble above Jade Pass. I was taking these as an excuse to catch my breath, so I have a few different viewpoints. Click to see larger versions.
If you fancy doing this as a day hike, it is a long (but amazing) day. However, if you have more time (and don’t mind carrying a heavier backpack) camping at Jade Lakes would be a fantastic option too. What do you think? Would you give this area a visit as you drive through to the other National Parks in the Canadian Rockies?
If you like the look of Jade Lakes as much as we did, please click on the pins below to save this for later.