Sparrowhawk Tarns

Sparrowhawk Tarns is relatively quiet trail that shares a trailhead with Mt. Sparrowhawk and Read’s Tower. The trailhead is more or less opposite the Sparrowhawk day-use area, there’ll be a well-defined path across the Smith-Dorien leading west into the trees. After a gentle start you’ll quickly start experiencing some elevation gain, and part-way through this you’ll come to a three-way junction. For this hike the correct path is the centre one, which continues up the mountain at roughly the same angle. Rather embarrassingly I wasn’t paying attention and took the rightmost path for a little while, which leads to what would be a very nice bike trail, but certainly doesn’t lead to the tarns.

Continuing beyond this fork, you’ll quickly come to another fork, with the NE path leading up towards Mt. Sparrowhawk proper, and the SE path continuing towards Sparrowhawk tarns. Beyond this point you’re just going to continue following the trail, ensuring that you’re travelling in a general SE direction.

Eventually you’ll clear the trees and see you’ve entered a cool little valley with Red Ridge to the SW. The easy part is now over, and you’ll need to go over a great deal of rock and scree. As far as I could tell there isn’t really a trail through the rock field, so you’ll end up just picking your way through wherever you deem to be easiest. You won’t be able to see the tarns for a while, but rest assured they are in fact there, you just need to keep pressing on towards the back of the valley. Upon reaching the top of the final hill you’ll have a very nice view of the tarns below you, as well as of Spray Lake behind you.

The only pieces of advice I have for anyone attempting this hike is make to sure you’ve got a decent pair of boots on as the last stretch provides plenty of opportunities for twisted ankles, and to be mindful of the route you take up to the tarns, as the forested area just after the rock field can be slightly confusing on the way back down.

If you’re fond of spending time by little mountain lakes and aren’t in the mood for dealing with a lot of other people, Sparrowhawk Tarns is definitely a hike for you!


As a parting note, I got a good chuckle out of finding a couple of beers stashed in the snow on the edge of the tarn. Whoever they belong to, I salute your ingenuity 🙂

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