Lake of the Hanging Glacier
With intriguing names like Hellroaring Creek, Horsethief Creek, and Lake of the Hanging Glacier, this 16 km round-trip hike is a must for those who want to experience a classic Purcell wilderness hike. After traveling 42 km from the four-way junction on Westside Road, follow the Horsethief Creek road to its end where you will find the LOTHG parking lot. For more detailed road directions and trail information please consult Mountain Footsteps by Janice Strong or Hikes around Invermere by Aaron Cameron and Matt Gunn.
The trail starts to climb immediately to get around a road washout. Unfortunately you lose this small elevation gain just as quickly as you descend to the old road. You follow a very distinct trail for the next 3 to 4 hours to the lake while gaining 700 meters in elevation. Warning!!! There is a seasonal bridge over Hellroaring Creek (2.5 km from parking lot) and any attempt to cross the creek without the bridge in place could be a life threatening experience (seriously). It is not called Hellroaring for nothing. The Summit Trail Makers Society maintain the LOTHG trail and are responsible for installing the bridge in the spring and removing it in the fall. The installation date for the bridge varies according to water levels. Late June or early July is when the bridge often goes in and is taken out in the first two weeks of October; however this is not a guaranteed and you should check the STMS website where the status of the bridge will be posted.
At 3 km you cross Horsethief Creek where you enter a thick forest, and at 4 km you start a steady climb gaining 450 meters in 2.5 km before a respite.
From here there is a short 1.5 km trek to the lake. During this last 4 km of the hike you are seldom far from the constant sound of cascading water on its rapid descent to the valley bottom. At 7 km there is a camping area hidden off to the right of the trail. There are plans to put in a toilet both here and at the parking lot sometime this summer. One kilometer from the lake the forest starts to thin and you find yourself with some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. As you parallel the creek watch for meadows full of western pasque flowers (anemones) that turn into “hairy hippies” late in the summer. As you crest the last rise, remember to breathe as you take in the stunning vista. .
Finding the perfect lunch location should not be hard as you cross the large flat and rocky delta to reach the lake. If you arrive early enough in the season, you may see the lake covered in ice or if you arrive later there are often icebergs that calved off from the glacier. This is a truly wonderful place to spend the afternoon. Enjoy your time in the mountains.