“The most serene, unspoiled, and beautiful spot on earth.” ~ San Francisco Chronicle
How true! While the fishing is a popular component in Hamber Provincial Park, the history is rife with exploration in the original route of the Thompson exploration to the west coast. Today, the heritage route partially runs through Hamber Park, and the landscape looks strikingly similar to how it did back in the early days of Canadian exploration.
Today, Fortress Lake Retreat offers guests a unique opportunity to paddle the lake in single or two man kayaks or by canoe. We also offer you opportunity to hike several trails in the valley, either up the Chaba River on a level terrain or up one of the valley passes to one of several stunning alpine destinations.
Fortress Lake Retreat is nestled along the sandy shoreline of a vivid blue-green mountain lake, 11 km long and just over 1 km wide. Nestled among 10,000+ foot peaks and glaciers of the Canadian Rockies, a sense of calm exists here.
Fortress Lake Hiking Synopsis
If you enjoy the outstanding variety offered by hikes spanning several elevations and ecosystems, Fortress Lake has such hikes available. The diversity of plants and animals present in these areas also varies in a similar fashion. Because of the thick forests in the lower valleys, most of your hiking will be on trails, and your total time in the alpine will be scenic but limited. Some scrambling is also available, usually up avalanche paths or dry streambeds to reach alpine destinations via the more direct route. At Fortress Lake you can also choose to wander up the impressively scenic floodplain of the heavily braided Chaba River. We offer boat shuttles to the trail heads along the lake with radios for safe contact.
Hikers begin jaunts to the alpine along Fortress Lake before spending many enjoyable hours traversing the shadows of old growth forest. Many shaded, mossy hollows provide homes for interesting plants and flowers that can be examined during this journey, and time passes quickly before finally reaching timberline and the marvelous amphitheatres and rambling alpine meadows of the higher peaks and ridges.
If desired, to assist you with navigation and interpretation, we can provide one activity guide to escort interested guests on a variety of hikes and walks during the week, as well as a selection of canoe or kayak outings, depending on group interest. The pace is relaxed, and designed to ensure that everyone is eager to get out again the next day. For those that prefer, our guide is also available to provide recommendations and help you start down the right trail on your own, before ensuring that you get safely home at the end of your day.
Chisel Peak Scramble – This requires a boat ride toward the west end of Fortress Lake, and hike takes you from the lakeshore up a gravel fan, 3/4 up the height of Chisel Peak. It’s an exposed slope of the mountain and offers some remarkable views of the lake and adjoining valleys. It can take 2 to 4 hours return, depending on pace. It is a steep hike!
Chisel Creek – This begins with a bit of an over grown route before opening up to a good trail on its way to the alpine. A small bridge takes you over the creek. There are some great views of the alpine scenery, wild flowers, and waterfalls. This route provides mountaineers access to Mt Clemenceau.
Vanishing Pond Trail – This hike does gain elevation, but not like Chisel Peak. It begins at the lake shore 1/2 mile from the retreat. The trail starts moderately steep before leveling out, then undulating through an old growth forest. Some wonderful hiking time is spent through the fir, spruce, and pine before a final ascent to the bowl in the alpine, home to Vanishing Pond and the pikas!
Chaba River Valley – A boat ride is required and there is no ‘set trail’ for this hike. Hikers enjoy hiking along the Chaba River, exploring and following wolf tracks along the way. Some remarkable views of the Chaba glacier, Mt Quincy, Fortress peak, and the Kingston Range.
Paddling Fortress Lake
We have a variety of 1 and 2 person kayaks and canoes at our facility. With over 25 km of lake perimeter to explore, with the creeks, Painter’s Island, out flowing Wood River, eagle’s nests, towering cliffs and glaciers to view, Fortress Lake offers paddlers an exceptional world to explore!
If you are interested in paddling, we will provide instruction and take you on a tour of the lake, and its magnificent shoreline. Sandy beaches are interspersed with the dense green of old growth forest, and the bright new growth on avalanche paths that sweep from glaciated heights to the waters edge. Places to picnic and stretch your legs abound, and the lakeshore is where much of our larger wildlife is observed.