Explore the most popular lake trails near Improvement District No. 9 with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

I loved this trail! It was just difficult for me to really make it worth it fighting through the crowd. It provided great views and I loved all the different lakes we saw. The bugs were not so great at some times, but my bug bracelets worked well. Definitely had to side step horse poop, but you are in the woods so who cares?

Unreal scenery.

We did the full loop plus hiking to Merlin lake in about 13 hours and headed out the same day. A very long day with variety of landscapes from dense woods, gorgeous creeks, wide open meadow, water falls and five spectacular lakes and last but not least, the historic Skoki lodge, located deep in the isolated Skoki valley. Completing this full loop in a single day will definitely need a good level of body strength however, the beauty of the area makes you forget about your tiredness. Be prepared for rapid weather change at any time. Overall this was a very pleasant hike and I highly recommend it at least once.

Great spot

I love the views once you're above the lake, and Lake Agnes to me is quintessential Rockies. I like this loop as a more challenging alternative than "just" visiting one of the tea houses.

My preference is to walk this counterclockwise, so that you can get the uphill sections done sooner, and also because I find the downhill sections at the back of the lake more approachable.

Bring cash for the tea house.

Take the time to explore around the beehive. The views are incredible.

Amazing views atop the Big Beehive, we took the trail counter clockwise and would recommend it because coming down from the beehive viewpoint towards Lake Agnes has steep cliff edges and going up that way was much safer than going down. Only hard part was going up towards the Big Beehive but it was well worth it. Definitely recommend this loop if you come to Lake Louise.

4 days ago

The Skoki loop is truly breathtaking and absolutely worth the somewhat demoralizing fire road slog in. Bugs are definitely a hassle - a bug jacket was a well used luxury item for me. We stayed at Baker Lake our first night, then at Merlin Meadows for the second. One thing we noticed is that there are apparently two ways through Deception Pass. We took the heavily signed route, but the one highlighted in this app is just west of the main trail and is a bit tougher to find. It is marked by some stone cairns about midway along Ptarmigan Lake for those that want to try it. We very much enjoyed the main route, which is well signed, just past the cairn-marked trail. The signed trail also seems the safer more established way, but as we did not take the highlighted route along the two lakes, I cannot speak to that particular trail.

The AllTrails app came in handy multiple times as there are many forks in the trails that lead elsewhere and are sometimes not well signed. Using my downloaded maps helped me to avoid some potential inconvenient strays from the route I intended.

Overall, we enjoyed Skoki thoroughly, with the exception of those hikers that feel it appropriate to blast their music in the backcountry, go off trail when they should not be, and decide it is ok to cook in their campsite and dump food waste in the camping area. Those inconsiderate humans were the worst part of the trip and are unfortunate constants in every backcountry experience - it would be lovely if everyone out there looked after each other and the environment so as to uplift the experience for all. Sadly that is often not the case out there. A little mindfulness of others and nature would go a long way.

The trail is very busy, due to Lake Louise fame, so it gives some familial ambiance. It is relatively easy, except the Big Beehive ascent, and offers good views on the Lake Louise and the glaciers.

Tips: if you have time or walk fast, complete your circuit by the Beehive Circuit and the Plain of glaciers lookout which is worth the extra path (after Tea house) (shared the recording).
In total, it gave a 20km hike or so, but the different views were worth the walk :)

6 days ago

Beautiful after the service road!

Lake was way prettier than expected and I’ll definitely come back for an overnight trip!

7 days ago

Found this to be insanely difficult, took about 10 hours round trip. We did not use any equipment but I would recommend a helmet and poles, lots of water and food.
Also It is more like 19km
once you get past sentinel Pass the trail begins, and becomes real very quick. Also it is very cold at the top, even in 30 degree august heat.

Good hike, particularly on a cloudy day where we weren't looking for great vistas. Meadows and lake at the end are great. First half of hike on the service road is quite dull saved only by views back towards Lake Louise. Once out of the woods the hike is beautiful and the lake is better than we expected. We left at 7am and didn't see anyone until campsite at about 4 miles. More crowded on return trip.

Beautiful hike with amazing views from the top. hiked with our 2 young boys 4 and 8 with no problems.

Beautiful hike with lots to see. The trek to the top of Big Beehive is hard, and I’d recommend hiking poles and boots. A lot of people end up going back down the way they came, but it’s all new scenery if you do this loop!

12 days ago

Hiked on July 28, 2018

• Washrooms and gravel parking at the trail head.
• Parking may be limited so you might have to park across the highway at the Bow Lake lookout.
• Do not leave the trail as the surrounding area is extremely sensitive and potentially dangerous.
• Mosquitos are very active compared to other trails in the area so bring repellant.
• Bring bear spray and make sure it is easily accessible for the entirety of the hike.

The trail hosts stunning views for the latter 2/3 of the hike, whereas the first part of the hike runs through the woods. There are some steep sections as well as a few breathtaking lookout points on the way to the lake. Depending on the season, you’ll likely encounter some wildflowers and a stream crossing. Helen Lake can be quite cool compared to the rest of the hike so dress/pack accordingly. Overall, Helen Lake Trail offers beautiful views and is moderately difficult—suitable for experienced beginners.

Finally checked it off the bucket list on Sunday. Left Calgary at 4am and got to the road to Moraine Lake at 6:20am. Parking lot was already full so I recommend going a little earlier. We waited an hour and finally got in! This hike is tough but so worth it. Plan for a long day, equipment is not necessary but will definitely help and be more safe. Happy hiking!

Great view over lake louise, lake agnes and mirror lake during the hike

Oh, and not sure about the posted distance...we had 19.05 km on two separate Garmin watches, from the Morraine Lake parking lot to the summit and back.

Johnny Hiker nailed it! Challenging both up and down. The views are stupendous and start from the beginning. Relentless scree-covered rock demands constant attention, but vertical gains are quick and steady. This is a very real mountain, and very popular. Lots of cairns to guide your way, and lots of alternate paths, but only one easier though the rock band. Prepare for a BIG day, and be careful even coming down on tired legs and rocky trail right to the end. A solid 5 out of 5!

We did this clockwise, starting with lake Agnes and big beehive, and added on the plain of 6 glaciers tea house. Roughly 10 miles in 5 hrs, with a stop at the tea house. Absolutely stunning views all along the way. It was pretty well trafficked close to both tea houses but we had some nice stretches of solitude. Some good heavy climbs.

Hot tip: there is a shuttle from Banff train station to the lake for $10 round trip. Leaves every hour or so. If you want to avoid the parking hassle, it’s a good option. Show up 15 min before departure to get a ticket.

Also a word on crowds in the summer (since there is a lot of discussion about it). Have you been to Rome? Been to Paris? This isn’t nearly that bad. You might have to search for a parking spot or jostle near the head of the lake but it’s just not as crazy as the forums would lead you to believe.

on Helen Lake Trail

16 days ago

Spectacular hike. Gradual ascent so not difficult at all. Trail was busy on Saturday. Weather was perfect.

16 days ago

This trail is a killer. The first section up through Sentinel Pass is a nice uphill walk. Then, it gets real. The scree is really tough. There was a lot of sliding and falling. The rewards are great, but getting down is not the easiest.

I try to do this hike every year it’s one of my favourite hikes. Only problem is it’s hard to do on weekend cause so much tourist so if you see you got to start very early on the weekend or yuh do it during the week. Its a fun hike. Not to east and not to hard

16 days ago

What I really liked about this hike is that it’s not hard not easy just perfect hike. Your in the forest a lot which I really liked. The lake at the bed is beautiful. Nice hidden gem hike.

20 days ago

Loved this hike! I enjoyed the wooded portion at the beginning as much as the amazing vistas once we emerged above the tree line. Spectacular!

22 days ago

I went with my 14 year old son and 10 year old daughter. It was a very nice hike with lots of changing scenery. My daughter loved the streams we passed and the flowers and mushrooms. We started the hike at 3:45pm and finished it at 7:45. It was really nice. Wish we could have gone on a little bit it was too late. We saw the grizzly bear just off the path and made sure I made lots of noise on our way back. We also saw some other wildlife and was very nice weather for the day (Saturday). The incline at the start was a good incline for my daughter but she did good. She liked the hike more than moose mountain the week before. But my son liked both hikes a lot and wouldn’t say one was better over the other. Make sure you bring bear spray as I have heard this area is frequent with grizzly bears (heard this after the hike from a fellow experienced hiker).

My favourite hike in the Rockies! Amazing views to Lake Louise, Lake Agnes & Bow Valley. Must do! Plan one whole day in order to enjoy the landscape and don‘t forget to bring enough water and food with you (although there are 2 Teahouses - crowded). Bug Spray might be good as well.

Amazing! Skoki Lodge is very well maintained. I really liked Packers Pass. Definitely worth it to wear all your camping gear with you, the elevation gain is not that bad. Nights could be cold!

22 days ago

amazing views from top

22 days ago

The trail head was very easy to find, there was signage and parking (overflow parking across the HWY). The trail starts off with a good incline, definitely enough to warm you up, but nothing too crazy. You then head out to a nice meadow, one of the most scenic trails I have been on. Took around an hour to reach Helen Lake. Take the time to do the Dolomite Trail, well worth the view!

23 days ago

Best hike I've done in Alberta, by far. As other folks mentionned, you must be prepared to face a good scramble once you're past Sentinel, as lots of loose rocks and steeper sections lay ahead. A climbing helmet and warm clothes are a definitive must, but hell it is worth the spectacular view on top!

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