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.

hiking
8 days 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.

hiking
28 days 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.

backpacking
1 month 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.

backpacking
1 month 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.

hiking
4 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.

hiking
7 months ago

Great hike that is consistent up and down. There is a fairly long down section on the way to the hike but it is consistent. Might be sketchy if there was snow.

4 stars because the views are great, the crowds were low, the path was easy to follow.

Great, short hike around the lakes at Sunshine Meadows. After skiing at Sunshine Village season it was great to explore the area around the ski hill. Trail was a bit snowy but it made the contrasting larch trees and evergreens and the blue/green lake stand out more. Throughly enjoyable day.

Nice good easy hike we did it in the snow which made it enjoyable, don't stop here though do the rest of the hikes at the top.

We attempted to do this today and were surprised to find that you have to pay to ride a gondola to the top of a mountain where the trail starts. That gondola has normal hours so if you want to go early you're out of luck. Many, many beautiful trails in the area for free that don't pose those same hurdles.

One of the most beautiful places we've backpacked. Bring clothing for heat and cold- we had snow and very hot days too. We were lucky to see Caribou 2 nights outside Amythyst campground.

Words cannot describe this trail. Spent 3 days in the valley. Hiked in to Amethyst lake. Spent the second day hiking to Erenite valley where you get up close to Alpine lakes and glaciers. The trail is "unmaintained" but seemed pretty well maintained to me. and hiked out through maccarib pass to the other trail head. Unreal experience, my only complaint is that we saw no wildlife other then a pine groesbeck, a couple spruce grouse and an osprey. Was really looking to see some large mammals but maybe next time. Seriously can't wait for my next trip to Jasper.

9 months ago

the most bugs I have ever seen, also saw a momma grizzly with two cubs and another big maybe poppa grizzly at the pass about 50 feet away

hiking
9 months ago

on Arnica Lake Trail

hiking
9 months ago

The first section of the trail from the trailhead to the east end of Vista lake is fairly open with a steady descent. Once you get across the creek (wooden bridge) then you start a long climb up to Arnica Lake, the trail initially is reasonably wide but it becomes fairly narrow in some spots. It's a long and reasonably steep climb to the lake, but well worth the effort.

Mosquitos on the edge of the lake were terrible, be sure to bring bug spray if you plan to have lunch at Arnica.

was on the trail last year, late August. bugs weren't bad, but it snowed and we froze cutting our trip short, also as we were coming out on Astoria trail literally ran into a Grizzly, only 2 meters away. make lots of noise especially along the river, it was right beside the bridge when we came around the corner. excellent views, and fresh water would love to do it again

The trail isn't too difficult and the camp sight at LM8 is really nice with a little beach. Very enjoyable hike and backpacking experience. Only downside we could not bring the dog due to all the bears.

hiking
10 months ago

July 22, 2017-the trail is narrow and runs along the mountain rounding down to the lake. There is a bridge to take you across the creek and the trails continues to climb up the mountain. We didn't go to the end of the trail and turned around at the half way point. We didn't see any people until heading down. Overall a nice quiet trail that is changeling due to the climb in elevation.

Not as much wildlife as they said there was but the scenery is still beautiful! expect mosquitoes

hiking
10 months ago

Hiked on June 29, 2017. A lot of up, with a ton of beautiful sights to take in almost the entire way to the lake! There is a small pond just before Arnica Lake that made for a nice spot to take a quick break and snap a few pictures. Arnica Lake is well worth the hike, however, I'd certainly recommend that you continue past Arnica Lake and either check out Twin Lakes, or stop at the top of the saddle and take a right all the way up to the base of Storm Mountain. A short, fairly easy scramble leads to incredible panoramic views of the area and makes for a great spot to have lunch. There was only small amounts of snow on the way to Arnica Lake and the trail was moderately trafficked.

backpacking
10 months ago

Beautiful hike! Some difficult portions though and the distances are misleading!

hiking
10 months ago

Amazing views. One of the best hikes in Banff. It is long so make sure to bring food and water and have lots of time. Muddy in sections and snow in other areas but very manageable and safe.

hiking
Sunday, April 30, 2017

A beautiful hike, would definitely do again and perhaps continue a bit further. We stopped at arnica lake after being advised that the further trail to twin lakes was very icy. Did this hike at the beginning of oct.2016 and there were a few snowy/muddy patches but nothing too bad. Would like to do it again a bit earlier but it's a great shoulder season hike in the fall as well.

hiking
Saturday, April 15, 2017

HIGHLY recommended to do this trail in the fall! It is absolutely breath taking. Pretty easy trail.

backpacking
Saturday, January 28, 2017

Great hike !
I started from the Marmot road. I camped to Amethyst campground and the spot was awesome in the morning and at the sunset. I proposed to end with the Astoria valley because of the section in front of Old Horn Mountain... It's rather boring at this point if you go up !
The negative about this trail is the Portal campground section. They are many flies and mud.

hiking
Sunday, October 30, 2016

Great hike . Did it end of Oct and lots of snow and elk tracks .
Lake was frozen over and pristine gorgeous, awesome day . Will be back in the summer for sure.
After vista lake , it's uphill all the way with no flat parts until the lake with various inclines . A grind , but totally do-able .

hiking
Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Beautiful. Not too strenuous. Keep watch for bears.

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