Subalpine meadows filled with vibrant wildflowers and backdropped by snow capped mountains. Boulderfields squeaking with impossibly cute marmots and pikas. And finally, a turquoise-coloured lake with mirror-like reflections.
The Eva Lake Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia, offers all this and more. This surprisingly approachable 12km return hike is ideal for a day hike or first time backpacking experience. You’ll love the beauty and tranquility of this stunning alpine area!
Published November 2020. Eva Lake is located on the traditional territory of Syilx, Sinixt, Ktunaxa, and Secwepemc First Nations. Please be sure to follow No Trace principles to keep wildlife safe and nature beautiful.
Eva Lake Trail: Hike Experience
The Eva Lake Trail offers a fantastic opportunity to explore a captivating alpine environment with far less of the usual effort required. The trailhead, you see, is located on the upper summit area of Mount Revelstoke, at the impressively high elevation of 1778m.
Mount Revelstoke is, in fact, the only peak in Canada’s system of national parks that can be summited almost straight from a vehicle. The Meadows in the Sky Parkway winds 26km from Highway 1 to the Balsam Lake parking area, just below the top of Mount Revelstoke.
Though the return hiking distance is a respectable 14km from the parking area, the Eva Lake Trail is moderately easy overall. The climbs and descents are steady and intercepted with long, flat sections. There are also plenty of scenic vistas and wildflowers to provide a distraction along the way.
The trail is named after Eva Hobbs, an early member of the Revelstoke Mountaineering Club (formed in 1909). Mount Revelstoke National Park itself is a product of successful lobbying by local residents who wanted to protect their beautiful backyard.
Eva Lake Trail
Location: Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia
Distance: 6km one way from trailhead / 7km one way from parking area
Elevation change: 179m from trailhead / 270m from parking area
Hike type: Out and back
Time: 4-6 hours return
Difficulty: Easy moderate
Fees: Yes – $10.02/per person/per night plus National Park daily admission fee
Wildflower filled meadows
From the Balsam Lake parking area at the end of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway, you can either wait for a shuttle to the upper summit area or hike a short trail to the top (1km one way). In 2020, the shuttles weren’t running so the decision was made for us!
Numerous trails spiderweb away from the summit area. The route to Eva Lake skirts Heather Lake before starting a steady decline into the subalpine meadows.
Around early August, these meadows burst into colour with incredible displays of wildflowers. The peak was over by the time of our late August visit, but the meadows remained intensely beautiful.
Evergreen trees line the edge of the wildflower meadows, offering intermittent views through to surrounding mountains and the Columbia River far below.
Marmots, pikas and boulders
After 3km or so, the meadows give way to boulderfields. The vibrancy of the flowers may be gone, but the views start to open up. The changing scenery is accompanied by occasional squeaks from tiny marmots and pikas hiding in the rocks. If you’re quiet and move carefully, you may even be able to spot one.
The trail skirts along the side of a slope, traversing directly through the boulders at times. There is one section with a steeper drop-off, but it doesn’t last long.
A small group of switchbacks lead upwards to the Miller Lake junction at kilometre 5.4. The junction for Jade Lakes follows shortly.
Pristine Eva Lake
An emerald coloured tarn can be spotted in the trees next to the trail, just after the Jade Lakes turnoff. The talus slopes reappear shortly, with the trail again following the edge of the slope with sporadic rock sections.
Quite suddenly, the peaceful shores of Eva Lake herald the end of the main trail. A cabin peeks out through the trees to the left.
The appearance of the lake varies depending on the light, weather and time of day. Strike it lucky and you’ll see mirror reflections of the surrounding mountains and trees, tinged with a blue-green hue.
The best views, I think, are found by continuing around the lake to the left. From this perspective, the lake is backdropped by rugged peaks.
Miller Lake and Jade Pass
For such relatively low effort, the reward is high. This is especially true if you add the detour to Miller Lake (an extra 400m each way from the Eva Lake Trail) on the way back to the parking lot.
Fast hikers should also the trip to Jade Pass (3km return). It makes for a long day – and harder workout – but the elevated 360 degree views are truly spectacular.
Eva Lake Hiking Guide
Inspired to visit Eva Lake yourself? Read on to discover everything you need to know about this beautiful hiking trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park.
This hiking guide includes affiliate links. If you make a purchase via one of these links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you.
When to hike to Eva Lake
While Mount Revelstoke National Park is technically open all year round, the Meadows in the Sky Parkway (from which the Eva Lake Trail is accessed) is only open during the warmer months. This is due to snow melt, which also means that the opening and closing dates vary from year to year.
- Lower sections of the road can open as early as May, but the upper summit area (2000 elevation!) may not be accessible until mid to late July
- Vehicle access to the Meadows in the Sky Parkway is closed after the last day of October, if snow conditions do not close it sooner. It really does depend on the year
- The Eva Lake campground opens when snow has receded enough to enough to allow adequate access to the facilities
The best time to hike the Eva Lake Trail, in my opinion, is early to mid August. At this time, the wildflowers are usually at their peak and there are stunning displays to be seen.
By September, the wildflowers are fading and the temperatures (especially overnight) become a lot cooler.
For reference, temperatures during our late August visit ranged from 15c to 6c during the day and then hovered around freezing (0c) at night.
How to access the Eva Lake trailhead
The Eva Lake trailhead is located at the upper summit area in Mount Revelstoke National Park.
- To reach the upper summit area, you must first drive the length of the 26km Meadows in the Sky Parkway. This takes around 35-40 minutes without stopping, though I promise you’ll want to pull over at least once to check out the awesome views!
- The Meadows in the Sky Parkway finishes at Balsam Lake, where there are two parking lots. If you’re driving a larger vehicle or RV, park in the first one. The second parking lot is pretty compact
- From Balsam Lake, hike the Upper Summit trail or road to the Eva Lake trailhead (1km, 91m elevation gain). In non-Covid years, a Summit Shuttle bus runs at peak times during the summer
The Meadows in the Sky Parkway opens at sunrise and closes at sunset. This varies throughout the summer since the days in July are a lot longer than in September. There is a gate that prevents entry/exit when the road is closed.
Navigating the trail
The Eva Lake Trail trailhead is signposted from the Upper Summit area. The same trail is used to reach Miller Lake and Jade Lakes too.
The route is well established, with a clear path through the meadows. The rockier sections are less defined, but since this is a very popular trail, it is easy to work out where to go.
At 5.4km, the trail splits. The path to the right leads to Miller Lake. Be careful not to miss this junction on the way back from Eva Lake – we did and ended up half way to Miller Lake before realising!
50m later, there is another junction for the Jade Lakes Trail. Continue straight for Eva Lake, a only 800m further on.
If you’d like to keep track of your progress on the trail, download Maps.me before your trip. The Eva Lake Trail is marked as the Miller Lake Trail.
What to do at Eva Lake
- After hiking 2-3 hours to reach Eva Lake, you deserve a break! Choose a rock by the shore and take in the tranquility of the lake and surrounding peaks
- There is an easy 1km shoreline hiking trail around Eva Lake. As well as offering different perspectives of the lake, there are peek through views of other mountains in Mount Revelstoke National Park. There’s even an island to rock hop over to
- The warden cabin next to Eva Lake is the second oldest structure in the national park. Built to allow park wardens to protect Mount Revelstoke from hunters and forest fires, the one room cabin is open for visitors to explore
- Miller Lake is, in my mind, well worth the 400m (800m return) detour when hiking to or from Eva Lake. While not quite as beautiful as Eva Lake, it’s still a lovely place to stop for a sit down and snack
There is an outhouse near the warden cabin – bring your own toilet paper and hand sanitizer.
When hanging out at Eva Lake, please be super careful to pack out everything you brought in with you. Any food and smelly items left behind may attract wildlife to the backcountry campsite when campers are sleeping!
Other hiking trails
There are a half a dozen other (shorter) hiking trails in the Mount Revelstoke Summit Area. My top recommendation is the Fire Lookout (500m return), which features great views and a historic two story fire warden cabin dating from 1927.
The First Footsteps trail is a scenic 750m loop, punctuated with interpretive signage and artwork presenting the traditions of the Secwepemc, Ktunaxa and Syilx/Okanagan First Nations. Look out for pikas in the rocks!
For more of a challenge, consider a side trip to the summit of Jade Pass. It’s a 1.5km one way hike from the Jade Lakes Trail junction on the Eva Lake Trail.
The route is uphill pretty much all the way (265m elevation gain), with switchbacks through meadows and scree. It is more difficult than the Eva Lake Trail.
The views arrive quickly, first offering a look at Miller Lake from above and then far-reaching panoramas of tree lined valleys and snow capped mountains.
At the summit of the pass itself, Upper Jade Lake can be spotted, encircled by impressive peaks.
Beyond the pass, the trail leads down to the Jade Lakes backcountry campground (1km one way), losing 258m elevation. We were satisfied with the views from the pass and returned to Eva Lake from here.
Eva Lake camping
Eva Lake has a backcountry campground, located on the south west shore of the lake. It’s very close to the end of the Eva Lake Trail, hidden in the trees behind the warden cabin.
- There are four campsites suitable for small/medium size tents, with two being situated side-by-side
- A very short walk away is an outhouse (also used by day visitors to Eva Lake) and six bearproof food storage lockers
If you’ve never tried backpacking, Eva Lake is an excellent first overnight trip. The short distance and relative low difficulty of the hike would be very manageable for beginners. The day-use cabin is ideal for shelter in bad weather conditions. And, of course, the beautiful destination is a great reward.
How to book a campsite
The campsites at Eva Lake backcountry campground are allocated on a first-come, first-serve permit system. Each camper must have a valid camping permit to stay overnight at Eva Lake. Camping permits are only issued on the day of camping or the day prior, at the Snowforest Campground Welcome Centre (open 8am to 7pm).
This permit system means that it is not possible to reserve a campsite at Eva Lake more than a day in advance. This is great for anyone who doesn’t have the flexibility to make reservations or prefers spontaneous backcountry adventure!
The campsites at Eva Lake are not numbered or allocated prior to arrival.
Camping permits for Eva Lake cost $10.02 per night, per person (2020). In addition to this fee, campers need to pay the daily admission to Mount Revelstoke National Park or have a valid Discovery Pass.
Overnight parking for Eva Lake is located at the regular Balsam Lake parking lots. The Meadows in the Sky Parkway closes after dark, with a barrier at the bottom of the road.
Upon registration for the camping permit, you will be asked for your vehicle’s license plate. Vehicles parked overnight at Balsam Lake are checked by park wardens.
Other Mount Revelstoke National Park campgrounds
It is also possible to backcountry camp at the Jade Lakes campground. The one-way distance to this campground is longer (9.4km one way) with substantial elevation change (428m). The camping fee, facilities and permit allocation system are the same as Eva Lake.
The nearest frontcountry campground is the brand new Snowforest Campground, located at the base of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway.
Opening in July 2020, this vehicle accessible campground has 62 campsites and an impressive flush toilet/shower building. Some sites are walk-in tent sites, while others are RV friendly with electrical services. Most campsites can be reserved in advance. Prices start at $28/night. Campfire permits are an additional $8.80/night.
- The Eva Lake Trail is located in the backcountry, with limited cellphone signal. Tell someone where you plan to go and when you plan to return. Bring the 10 essentials to help alleviate any emergencies
- Dress in layers and bring extra warm clothing, no matter the forecast says or what the weather looks like at the parking lot! Conditions can change very quickly in the mountains, with snow possible at any month of the year
- Mount Revelstoke is home to both grizzly and black bears. Carrying bear spray is recommended but it is also important to know how to actively avoid bear encounters (make noise, watch for signs of bears, remain alert at all times) – learn more here
- Dogs are NOT allowed in the summit area or backcountry of Mount Revelstoke National Park. It is not possible to bring your dog (even with a leash) on the Eva Lake Trail. This is to avoid encounters with bears
- Keep to the trail at all times. This helps preserve the delicate alpine environment and also greatly reduces the chance of you getting lost!
- When camping at Eva Lake, be sure to use the storage lockers for storing all food and smelly items (cooking equipment, toiletries etc.) to reduce wildlife
- Campfires are not permitted in the backcountry of Mount Revelstoke – this includes Eva Lake
Essential items to bring
With the above in mind, here are some of the must have items to carry when hiking the Eva Lae Trail in Mount Revelstoke National Park
- Bear spray – Carry a cannister of bear spray and know how to use it. Use a holster to store it somewhere easy to access quickly using a holster
- The 10 Essentials: Situations that would usually be slight inconveniences elsewhere (changes in weather, injuries, other unexpected events) can turn into life-threatening emergencies in the backcountry. Having the 10 Essentials can really help
- Hiking poles – Incredibly light and foldable, Black Diamond’s Carbon Z poles are my tried and tested favourite pair of hiking poles. If you’re planning to hike up to Jade Pass, you’ll find hiking poles to be particularly helpful
- Toilet paper and hand sanitizer – Eva Lake and the summit area of Mount Revelstoke have basic outhouses only. Toilet paper can run out, so be sure to bring your own plus some hand sanitizer for cleaning your hands afterwards
Although not an essential, if you’re interested in wildflowers, you may want to pick up a copy of this identification book before hiking the Eva Lake Trail.
More things to do around Revelstoke
Eva Lake and the Meadows in the Sky Parkway is just a taste of what Revelstoke has to offer! This small, laid-back place is one of the most authentic mountain towns in Western Canada. Despite being right on Highway 1, it’s still retains a surprisingly remote feel.
I’d recommend spending at least a day or two exploring Revelstoke after (or before) your Eva Lake adventure – here are some ideas:
- Visit Revelstoke’s trio of impressive waterfalls – Sutherland Falls, Begbie Falls, Moses Falls
- Ride the Pipe Mountain Coaster down the slopes of Revelstoke Mountain Resort (one of only three in Canada)
- Battle huge waves on a whitewater rafting tour on the Illecillewaet River through Mount Revelstoke National Park
- Sample locally made drinks at Mt Begbie Brewing, Rumpus Beer Co, Monashee Spirits and Jones Distilling
- Paddle on Lake Revelstoke in sight of many snow capped mountains, with the chance to discover a secret waterfall
Where to stay in Revelstoke
My top pick for a post-Eva Lake shower is the Regent Hotel on 1st Street. This stylish family owned and operated hotel (one of the oldest in Canada!) is incredibly central to everything in downtown Revelstoke. Breakfast is included and features the best hotel buffet I’ve had anywhere in British Columbia.
If your budget is smaller, check out the Cube Hotel. The affordable, modernist styled rooms have shared (but private) shower rooms and kitchen.
For that guilt-free post-hiking meal, head straight to Craft Bierhaus and pick up one of their inventive mac ‘n’ cheeses! They also have a huge choice in HUGE choice of draught craft beer from breweries across BC.
Some fancier options include the Quartermaster Eatery and 112 Restaurant (the latter of which is conveniently located in the Regent Hotel building as mentioned above). The Quartermaster, my favourite of the two, specialises in seasonal dishes with an emphasis on smoke and fire.