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Item: Michelle Lakes

Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes

Type: Concrete Item   Editor: rockymountainman

Just outside of Banff National Park high (elevation 8,150 feet) in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta are the Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes. These beautiful lakes are home to one of the rarest trout in the world. The golden trout that live in the lower lake were introduced back in the 1970's from their native home high in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California.

Access to the lakes is either via a long steep hike along a crude trail that follows Owen Creek starting from a bridge along Highway 11 just outside of the Banff Park boundary or via helicopter. The hike is hard but worth the work as the scenery along the way is phenomenal. Carrying heavy backpacks, weighing up to 70 pounds depending on the length of the stay, the hike will take a day and a half with an overnight stop 1/2 to 3/4 of the way up. Beware that the weather at this northerly latitude and high altitude can change in a blink. Be sure of the weather forecast before heading out. It is advisable to restrict this trip to the summer months with warm and dry weather.

Over the years there have been more and more people visiting the lakes by helicopter and this has put a lot of pressure on this delicate fishery. Back in the early 1990's a decent size 14" golden trout could be caught with some patience and careful placement of the fly. The fish in the lake now seem to be very small reaching only 6" at best. This could be due to poor fish management and/or too much fishing pressure. Where once the shrimp that the golden trout feed on were fairly large and abundant now they are very small and hard to find.

This is discouraging news for this extremely rare trout that has been all but decimated from its native home in California.

Michelle Lakes is a special place with a gift of gold within and more must be done to conserve this jewel of the rockies.


Name-Description    Type    Value    Measure   

    GPS Location      

 52 degrees 04' 22.1" N - 116 degrees 44' 57.2" W   Coordinates
Continent: North America
Country/Territory: Canada
State/Province: Alberta




 Feet (ft) 

    Geographical location      

 David Thompson Country   ...
Continent: North America
Country/Territory: Canada
State/Province: Alberta




Name    Description    Image Added      

Golden Trout  Golden Trout from Lower Michelle Lakes caught in the early 1990's  Sat Jul 30 04:02:04 UTC 2016  
Golden Trout 14"  Nice size 14" Golden Trout from Michelle Lakes, Alberta  Sat Jul 30 04:11:31 UTC 2016  
Lower Michelle Lake  Lower Michelle Lake in David Thompson Country, Alberta  Sat Jul 30 03:53:46 UTC 2016  
Upper Michelle Lake  Upper Michelle Lake in David Thompson Country, Alberta  Sat Jul 30 03:57:45 UTC 2016  
Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes  Upper and Lower Michelle Lakes viewed from the col above  Sat Jul 30 03:34:37 UTC 2016  
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Michelle Lakes