Explore the most popular lake trails near Banff with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

6 days ago

Finished this on Aug 04 2018. It was cloudy and it did rain after we got to the summit but it was still worth it. Didn't have the greatest views but it was still beautiful as I felt like I was with the clouds. I would recommend this and I would personally do this again.

This hike is divided into 3 parts, the first part is the Lake Bourgeau Trail (moderate). Of the 3 parts, this part is the most boring but you do go across some creeks that are nice -- also the lake is the nicest of the 3 lakes you encounter. The second part is Harvey's Pass (moderate). Once you get past the second and third lakes you get this amazing view. This part alone is worth the entire hike in my opinion. Finally, the last part is the summit (hard) and it is a little challenging but the view is really good. I do like Harvey's Pass better but they're both worth the views.

The descent is painful as you don't notice how many rocks there are until your feet are crying as you go down. There are rocks basically all the way down until just past Lake Bourgeau. Would recommend changing socks at the top. Or just suck it up. Up to you. I'm not your dad.

This entire hike took us 11 hours and we rushed on the way down as we were losing sunlight. We were actually pretty slow as we met 2 other groups that started and finished before us. I think if you are more fit and you take less breaks you can shave 1-3 hours. We took lots of water/food/picture breaks

Nice and easy hike beautiful lakes

Very nice and easy hike. We took the chairlift to Mt Standish and hiked back, stopping at Rock Isle Lake. Nice wildflowers, many ground squirrels, and awesome views

We took the chairlift to the top of Standish mountain and to the view point. The view point offers amazing views for a quick hike. We continued on to the Grizzly and Larix lake loop. This is a moderate trail that offers great views of Simpson valley. We finally walked past rock isle lake and descended into sunshine village.

Beautiful hike..

10 days ago

Long, but rewarding at the summit. Hard hike, easy scramble.

MAKE SURE TO BRING MOSQUITO REPELLENT. Their were so many mosquitos and horse flies up there we couldn’t stand still for more than 12 seconds without being swarmed by over 30 mosquitos.

Bugs aside it’s a great little hike with a moderate but constant incline to the top. 26 and moderately fit here we along with other hikers took a few breaks on the way up. The lake is beautiful at the top. A great light teal blue.

15 days ago

I’ve done hard hikes before and I would definitely call the second part of this hike hard not moderate. It seems like a never ending summit haha. I would say if you stop and enjoy yourself the hike would take 8-9 hours. We saw 4 mountain goats and lots of marmots. Definitely take lots and lots of food and be prepared the walk back seems like forever. Some people also bring swimmers and jump in the first lake. Great views and hike, but i would be prepared before doing it & also choose a very clear day so you have views of Banff and sunshine village.

This is as good as it gets!!!!
Amazing, incredible, spectacular, all of those and many more!!! The Rockies, they are really something, not too terrible!!!!

Gorgeous views with lots of wildlife and wildflowers. Neat look at a recent fire scar. Gets a bit crowded...we got to the top of the chairlift around 8:45 and didn't encounter but a handful of people on the loop. Lots of folks going up when we were heading down. Plenty of parking. Did this trail with the Grizzly/larynx loop in about 2hrs 15 min.

Beautiful scenery and an easy hike on well marked trails. A must do for visitors wanting to experience the Rockies or a day trip for an escape from the city. It’s a busy trail for these reasons though but worth a look.

Thank you Steve Larken for your in depth review - the lodge is a great stop afterwards as well!

20 days ago

Absolutely amazing. I usually don’t work out much but am moderately fit, and was able to do it - the last stretch up to Harvie Pass is tough but worth it to see the hidden lakes and the views! Saw a total of 9 wild goats, and many small rodents - no bears, thankfully! The last kilometer to Lake Bourgeau is a bit tough, lots of switchbacks. All around the best hike of my life, worth every minute of the 9 hours it too!

Beautiful and easy walk. The gondola and chairlift take most of the strenuous hiking out of it. The view from standish viewpoint is awesome. Don’t miss the grizzly/laryx lake loop. The wildflowers are much denser and diverse on that trail. Lots of mosquitoes when we went mid-July so don’t forget the bug spray! Food and drinks are very expensive so make sure to bring your own!

This was my first hike. There is no camping on or near this trail. Its a day hike. Took 8 1/2 hours to the summit and back. Bring lots of food ! The last part is pretty tough. Walking on shale rock.

25 days ago

on a nice day you cant beat this

Well worth the long trek in. First couple hours to Bourgeau lake is mostly covered with the odd views looking back down the valley. Once past the first lake, the views through Harvey Pass and the ridge to the summit will give you more than enough motivation to keep going! One of the best hikes I’ve done in the Rockies.

28 days ago

Hiked on 2018 July 17 with spouse, 12 year old son and Labrador Retriever. Hot and sunny. Trail was in excellent condition. Descent down to Vista Lake is steady and easy ( remember this as you come back up at the end of the day...). There is a wooden bridge at the end of Vista Lake for a break, which you should take, as it's all uphill from there. I'm 52 and I'm in relatively good shape, but the ascent up to Arnica Lake was a bit of a challenge. The trail is well marked, but fairly steep and narrow with loose footing in places. We had to stop frequently to catch our breath, which was fine because there were many spectacular lookouts along the way. You can look back and see your progress as Vista Lake and the trailhead parking lot are visible from several spots. As we finally reached a slight descent there was a dried up lake bottom which we very briefly hoped wasn't Arnica Lake ( that would have been a great cosmic joke ) but quickly realized the trail continued past this and, of course, upwards once again. The last section between the dried up lake bed and Arnica Lake seemed to be the steepest climb, but that may have simply been due to our fatigue level. Arnica Lake is quite pretty and surrounded by cliffs, however the mosquitoes were horrendous, even being saturated with repellant. We ate very quickly for this reason and started our way back to the trailhead. It took us about 3 hours to reach Arnica Lake from the trailhead and about 2:30 back with frequent stops, especially on the way in. Remember that last 1.5 km from Vista Lake back up to the parking lot? Yeah. That. We met a total of 10'other hikers all day ( Tuesday ). Stopped at Storm Mountain Lodge after for a nice cold drink. Enjoy!!

As other reviews have said this is a busy hiking trail, great way for holiday hikers to be submerged in mountains and lakes! The view from the lookout was out of this world and the wild flowers throughout the meadows are beautiful. Recommend the detour to Monarch lookout, stunning views and next to no one else around!

Their is popular skiing and hiking place.
We took gondola and chair lift to go up there and went loop around lakes.
It was very beautiful views and lots flowers.
It took 42 dollar for gondola ticket.
But it’s worth it and save you time for this view and hikes.

We loved the variety of terrains on this trail! We started out on a fairly level path that followed the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka, crossed a tributary at Stewart Canyon, began ascending through a pleasant forest, and continued to climb as the woods thinned out in places and the soft ground of the forest gave way to rocky terrain. We were not determined to complete the trail, which is probably a good thing, since we decided to turn back when we encountered some significant sleet and found the severed lower leg of a deer about 5 feet from the trail. It was quite the adventure, and the views of the lake and surrounding mountains were amazing. Would definitely do this trail again.

2 months ago

Amazing hike, but lots of mosquitoes, i would 110% recommend bringing a full body bug suit if you're tackling this one.

Really beautiful lake. Came during the 2nd week of May and the lake was still partially frozen for a very unique view. I heard it gets extremely crowded during the summer & early fall. But today it wasn’t too crowded. Didn’t do the trail. Just hung out on the rocky beach. Gorgeous.

3 months ago

This was a beautiful trail and offered plenty of access to water sources. Overnighting at Amethyst is a must if you’re doing this trail! If I were to do it again I would make a longer trip out of it by overnighting a few nights using Amethyst as a base camp and doing some exploring in the area.

4 months ago

Did this hike as a part of 4 day backpacking trip last Aug. Could not do the full loop as we had only one car. But the trail from portal creek via Maccarib pass is absolutely stunning. Sunrise in Amethyst lake with the reflections of Ramparts on the lake.....that is a scene not to be forgotten ever.

4 months ago

Redid this trail for second time. Used Astoria trailhead again. Went beginning of August, bugs were bad, but worth it. Nicest area we felt was at surprise point. Bugs weren’t bad, gentle breeze and a view that photos could not do justice. Would I go for a third time, no doubt about it. On the trail this time we did have a mountain lion jump out at us, it was a younger one but did it ever move fast

beautiful definitely worth the trek up... just keeping going and be patient and anyone can make it.

7 months ago

I did this hike solo in October. It made for a rather heavy pack as I had to pack for winter camping. The first campground is portal to my recollection. Be wary of the sign that tells you it’s 8kms to the campground. I am quite fit and light on my feet and it felt that me like it was more like 15. I didn’t hitch hike back, I redid the route and upon close inspection of the sign on my return, someone had actually carved in to the sign ‘more like 16’. I will be returning to do it again in July with warmer weather and intend to wear a gps watch this time. The first night I got about a foot of snow in the elevation. It was a lovely morning and although the trail was covered in snow, the route was still obvious. I did not encounter any wild life while awake, however I had a trail of prints in the snow around my tent. Not bear or cougar though! The sights are lovely and the trail is super easy (at least I thought so!) In the summertime this is known as one of the most buggy trails in Alberta so I would highly recommend that you go to Mountain hardware at the cross iron mills mall and pick up a head bug net, as they sell them for only five dollars - it will save you from going insane with all of the bugs. The trail can also be quite muddy in some spots... whatever. It’s nature!!

Tried to hike to arnica lake this past weekend. Awesome views just past Vista lake as you go up the ridge on the opposite side, I didn't quite make it to the lake due to losing the trail and knee-high snow. I personally wouldn't do it again without snowshoes or until it's cleared out of snow a bit.

A great hike and beautiful vistas to boot. We had quite a bit of snow on the trail but it only made the scenery even better with the Larch trees in full golden yellow mode. Rock Isle Lake really is a gem.

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