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Owl - Tenquille Traverse


A tour of excellent alpine lakes, high above Pemberton!

Trail Running Difficult

31 km
1.9 km
1.9 km
6-7 hrs
Low Point
1.2 km
High Point
2.1 km
Owl - Tenquille Traverse Map

The Owl-Tenquille Traverse connects its namesake lakes via an open alpine trail (mostly) system. It's easy to complete in either direction. One of the most difficult parts is the logistics of a point-to-point run!


The direction described is ever so slightly easier with an overall elevation loss. A group of runners may drop one car at the finish trailhead, shuttling a second car to the starting trailhead, then retrieving it at the end. An alternative option is to team up with a second group, trade cars before starting at either end, and run back to the original cars! The car swap avoids a LOT of extra driving!

From the Tenquille Trailhead, a well established trail heads to Tenquille Lake. You'll pass the large Tenquille Cabin and a beautiful alpine lake. Continue around the south side and follow the trail past the outflow of Tenquille Creek. A spur forks right (left heads down into the valley from an alternate starting trailhead) and you continue traversing along slopes on the well-beaten Barbour MTB trail. You may encounter some downhill riders who are heli-dropped in the alpine!

Continue climbing up out of treeline and onto open alpine scree and talus after turning off the MTB trail (not an obvious fork). The going is relatively smooth but it can be easy to get stuck in heather bushes. You'll reach an open pass where a more noticeable trail drops towards a lake. Follow footbeds and cairns along the slope before turning around a shoulder and climbing to another pass.

Drop into a valley, following a creek. Stay high on the east side of the creek and enjoy the amazing views! Where the valley drops off, stay high in avalanche paths, crossing heather slopes and trying not to drop to treeline. You're aiming for a big obvious lake! Follow a trail from the outflow of the lake but stay high on scree slopes. A fork drops into the Tenas Creek Valley below Sun God but instead stay high to the col west of Ronayne.

Climb up over the shoulder south of Ronayne and ramble along alpine talus fields. Here the footbed completely disappears and you're fully scrambling. Take it slow as the footing is poor. It's just a short section though before you get onto better terrain and start descending towards the very large Upper Owl Lake. Scramble down a major gully with loose rock. This is one of the major cruxes of the day but it's not as bad as it looks from above.

Traverse scree slopes and stay on the east side of the lake. Follow the outflow down to Lower Owl Lake on poor quality trails. Aim for the west side of the lower lake and take the path of least resistance. There's bushwacking at this point but it should never be terrible! At the other side of the lower lake, pick up a better trail that descends towards Fowl Lakes and the Owl Trailhead. Once you hit treeline, it's quite easy to follow!

Watch for bears and wasps. There's quite a bit of water throughout the entire route! There's also a lot of lakes offering excellent dips to cool off on hot days. Ronayne is a good side-trip summit. Check Matt Gunn's Scrambles in SW BC guidebook for more summits to explore around Tenquille Lake!



Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between July and October

Guidebooks in this area