Burns Lake

- 20 Kilometers
- Difficult
- Full Day

Hiking, Biking and Camping permitted


Burns Lake

Access: Sheep River Trail (Hwy 546)
Parking: Bluerock campground
Camping: Bluerock campground

- Bike 'n Hike, 3-4 hrs one way

I always like these trails where you can spend the night at a nice campground, and the following morning just saddle up and go (Talus Lake is a favorite for that reason too). Another nice thing about this trail is that you have other options, such as a sidetrip to nearby Lake Rae, or if you're a strong rider you can go out and back to either Elbow Lake or Tombstone Lakes as a long day trip ... or you can spend a week camping in and around the different backcountry lakes and campgrounds located within the Sheep and Elbow River Valleys, all accessed from this trail ... I could go on and on. This day however, I was on my own and quite determined to go to Burns Lake (my namesake) because I heard it was tough and I like a challenge.

Sheep Trail starts where the road (546) ends and follows along the Sheep River beneath Gibralter Mtn, past old Range Rider cabins as well as the remains of a corral where Pat Burns Coal Mining once operated. After approximately 10 km's you'll come to a junction with Rickert's Pass branching off to the left, which follows Mist Creek across Mist Mtn and down the other side to Hwy 40. But keep straight for about 3.5 km's and look for a trail that switches back just as you cross Burns creek, and pay attention because it's easy to miss. The trail along Burns Creek is a seismic road which I found to be frustrating and unrideable at times, eventually throwing the bike down and walking. There appeared to be a storm rolling in so I was determined to get to the Lake before that happened, finding myself a little unprepared having no rain gear and little more than two liters of water and a couple power bars. This can also be a very lonely trail, so you wouldn't want to run into trouble out here by yourself.

In fact, the only people I encountered on this day were a group of ranchers from the Turner Valley area. They travelled in by horse drawn wagon, set up a base camp in the bush just off Sheep Trail, and then rode the horses up to Burns Lake where they fished for two days. Sounds cool.
The Seismic road lasts for 5 km until you find yourself in awe of the 400 meter high Falls which are beside you as you climb the extremely steep Headwall. I wasn't able to do much fishing once I arrived at the lake, because before long I was being pelted with heavy rain and had to seek shelter so I could stay dry and prepare for the journey back. But as I waited for the rain to subside I sat for an hour or more just soaking up the haunting tranquility of this place, the complexity of the terrain, and the feeling that comes with being alone somewhere so remote and soul stirringly beautiful. I didn't want to leave and vowed to myself I would come back again ... although next time it would be a much longer stay.