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

12 days ago

Beautiful trail that was quite well maintained. Used micro spikes for the most part and glad we brought our snowshoes to complete the final 500-700m as there was a good foot of snow.

We only hiked up to the falls as a last hike before we left the area for a couple of days, but the trail was short and medium-easy to the falls. Snow was packed most of the way and ice cleats were helpful on the way down. The falls were mostly frozen which made it a light trickle, but it was pretty nonetheless. We saw no one else on the trail despite many people getting off buses to take pictures of the lake.

Beautiful hike and very easy. It was snowing for much of our hike, but the trail was already well packed. There is very little elevation change so it was easy to bring our younger niece with us. The lake was mostly frozen, but the far end (from the trailhead and resort) was unfrozen and there were opportunities to see the reflection of the mountains and forest off the water. We also saw moose in the avalanche chute at the start of the trail along the lake (but made sure to stand there for too long).

The view of the natural amphitheater at the end was well worth the steepness of the trail and the snow. We went up without snowshoes, but luckily some snowshoers had gone ahead of us and packed down some of the trail. The footprints ended at the start of the amphitheater, maybe 200m from the end of the trail, but the view was already incredible so it was no loss. The snow was knee deep for the last half kilometer or so. The trail had few others on it, even on the parts along the lake (although there are many sightseers coming off buses at the trailhead parking lot).

Hiked the road last weekend, about 1/2ft snow the first km, then goes down to almost nothing and then 3/4ft snow the last two km coming up to the lake. Spent the weekend at Elizabeth Parker Hut and much more snow from the lake to the hut- but so worth it!

Easy, beautiful hike with tons of wild flowers in the Summer!!

Nice easy hike with great views. The vegetation is quite different from one side of the lake to other.

1 month ago

Really beautiful views - not hard at all, easy way to spend ~2 hours in the morning. There’s also an ice cream shop at the beginning. So that’s a plus.

Hiking on that road is really boring, especially if you have to do the 22 km in and out in one day. There is no view on that road, and it is a road not a pretty trail. It is best to reserve a bus "months in advance" and hike other trails around the lake. Those other trails are breath taking! A amazing view from all the other trails.
In the winter, you can x-country ski the road. It is track set and easy enough and at least, it is way faster on the way down!!!

2 months ago

Even on an overcast day the trail afforded very nice views, especially from the southern bend of Emerald Lake. I extended the hike over Yoho Pass (nothing special) and continued to Yoho Lake (isolated and very pretty) before turning back. Unless you really enjoy a long uphill in increasingly deep snow the work/view tradeoff for heading out to Yoho Lake probably isn't worth the effort at this point in the season.

2 months ago

My review is from the perspective of an amateur landscape photographer.

The trail is rated as easy and that is accurate. There are a few muddy spots so hiking boots are recommended. I'm 62 and had no trouble with the hike. But be aware that I didn't complete the entire loop. I found a beautiful spot for photography on the east bank and I stopped after getting the picture I wanted.
This a trail that requires some patience. I started at the lodge and the trail is a bit difficult to find. Also, the lodge area is madhouse with tour buses dumping off 50-60 people at a time and there must have been 200+ milling around. Quickly leave the lodge area by walking east and you'll come to the trail.

The photography is frustrating at first because the trail doesn't run adjacent to the lake but is up the ridge and the view is obstructed by trees. But after a mile or so the trail is right beside the lake and you'll notice small herd paths that give you outstanding views of the lake. If you are there in late summer or early fall the sun will be to your left so you won't be shooting into it. If you can try to go early in the morning since the winds my be calm and you can get some outstanding reflections in the lake.

2 months ago

Hiked today the trail was icy in spots after the early snows. The trail was muddy in other spots, but passable. There are numerous spots to take pictures of the scenery.

2 months ago

We just did the hike around the lake as had a stroller and three year old in tow. Was beautiful and very quiet; we only saw a handful of people the whole way round even though there were a lot of tourists in the parking lot and on the bridge at the beginning taking photos.

The hike to Helen Lake is relatively easy/moderate for an experience hiker and offers beautiful views of Bow lake along the first 1.5 miles and then beautiful views of the adjacent mountains the rest of the hike. The lake was very pretty with beautiful mountain backdrops. The hike to the ridge line form the lake isn’t too bad, just steep and also offers very nice views. From there we turned right and submitted an easier “peak” to have a view out over what we just hiked. We then turned around and started the trek to Cirque Peak. I wouldn’t recommend doing that portion of the hike if you are scared of heights. I am a little bit and was able to manage the scary sections slowly and staying as far from the edge as possible. But there are a few sections that are more of a scramble then a hike. We also were climbing this while it was snowing so everything was a bit slick. Unfortunately we had to turn back 600m from the peak because the snow got to be too much, but during one break through of sunshine we could see the valley and the view was worth the effort! I will say the trail is difficult to see so follow the cairns people have built and when the “trail” splits stay to the right to keep going up.

Hike to the basin. Totally worth it.

All uphill from campground but worth it. Agree both upper and lower views are a must. Lower gives full show ala stream. Also appreciated start of next gen hoodoos on opposite ridge on way down. Even without view of clouded high peaks, all in!

on Emerald Lake Trail

3 months ago

Really great trail! Parking lot is small so we had to park on side of the road but wasn’t too far. I took my 7 and 4 year old kids with me. We didn’t do the uphill part, but we did the trail that takes you all around the lake. It was 7.5 km and took us 2 hrs with stops for the kids to play by the lake, which you could do at 3 or 4 spots where the trail levels out to the lake. Easy walk, no major steep sections. Muddy in some parts, for sure. Lots of great views. Many people come to get a glimpse of the lake but few do the trail, making it relatively quiet along the way. Highly recommended.

3 months ago

I hiked many trails in Glacier, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks. The beauty and solitude of this trail made it my favorite.

While there were a few trees across the trail, they did not detract from the hike.

3 months ago

Great hike along the lake !

nature trips
3 months ago

Such a beautiful lake with a turquoise color!

Best super view in this area.
But it’s not a moderate trail for sure.
Don’t forget your stick.

3 months ago

This trail starts from the same parking lot that serves the Emerald Lake Trail, but is cleverly hidden at the opposite end of the parking lot from the main attraction. Those that arrive on bus tours and for quick photos of Emerald Lake will not clog up this trail. A more gentle trek on this same trail will end at the falls just before the first switchback.

On the way up to the falls, keep an eye out along the river bank for hollowed logs wrapped in wire. These appear to be a primitive form of piping used to deliver water from a tiny dam at the bottom of the falls.

Past the falls, the trail gets steeper and drier. Even when the switchbacks end, the trail continues a steady climb. It is a bit of a slog up the mountain with almost all of the views of Emerald Lake and the surrounding mountains obstructed by the forest. This would make the trail a 2 star slog if it were not for what lies near the end of the trail.

Shortly before reaching Lake Hamilton, the views open up. In the distance, you can see the sometimes rocky and sometimes low foliage covered mountains. At your feet, you will see that same foliage up close. In early September, there is a mixture of wildflowers that are still in bloom and others that have gone to seed and are just as beautiful as if in boom. Some of the fall color has arrived in the ground cover, leading to a sea of greens, yellows, and oranges.

The lake is is the same emerald color as Emerald Lake and is quite gorgeous. While it is much smaller, there's a reasonable chance you will have it all to yourself. Bring a blanket to lay out on the "beach" at the end of the trail and plan to rest and take in the views for a while!

This lake is fed from a small glacier at the far end as well as some far off source I couldn't identify. While walking the trail around the west side of the lake, I could hear running water gurgling under the broken shale. At the time that I visited, there was no visible flow from Hamilton Lake to the river that feeds the falls below. The gorge between the two shows that this is not always the case.

It looks tempting to try to make a loop using the trail that leads to Emerald Peak. I tried to find the intersection of that trail on the Hamilton Lake Trail and on the Emerald Lake Trail with no luck. At the Hamilton Lake Trail end, the spot where it should be looks like it has had frequent rock and/or snow avalanches. At the supposed Emerald Lake Trail intersection, there are frequent snow avalanches as indicated by posted warnings and lack of even downed trees in the area.

awesome, beautiful, moderate trail

did it clockwise with the steeper part at the beginning but it's not that step with switchbacks. once above the trees: outstanding! did extra hiking near the emerald glacier and was over an hour up there.
down to Yoho is great too

3 months ago

We did this trail in the end of June - and it was awesome! As soon as you get to the elevation gain there aren’t many people around :)
Once it goes up, it’s quite steep and after seeing the emerald glacier just keep going and going - way further than the route here displays and you will get rewarded with spectacular views. When we were there, there was still snow up from avalanches. Highly recommended!!

Hard at the first couple Kms and final km at the top. In between is easy trail around Yoho Lake and under the shear cliff. Spectacular views of Emerald Lake and Presidents Glacier.

3 months ago

Gorgeous lake and views! There are so many great places to take photographs here and it wasn't too crowded even mid day. I highly recommend visiting this lake!

Let me preface this review by saying this trail, in my opinion, should NOT be rated moderate. The hike to Helen Lake is moderate for sure, but to summit Cirque Peak is certainly difficult/ hard. I have read other websites that state the same, and an experienced hiker from the area coming down the mountain said so too.
Also, the trail is not on any hiking map that we saw including books and the map from the start of the hike, and no signage. We could see tracks up the mountain but no idea how to get there. We went to the right of the lake, up to where you climb Dolomite Pass and then turned left turned Cirque peak and followed what looked like a foot path.
That being said, we didn't actually make it to the 'top', we got to about 3/4 of the way up and being pretty novice hikers without poles decided it just wasn't safe to go to the top and have to come back down. But my god the views were incredible. If you have the strength and endurance to get up there, you need to. Unbeatable. You can see for miles around, so many lakes, mountains of all sizes shapes and color; just amazing! Best hike we did in Banff by far.
The hike up to the peak is extremely steep, and make sure whatever way you come up, go down it! We tried to find an 'easier' path down but ended up basically just going to a cliff edge, then having to reroute.
Bring bear spray as it is bear country and make lots of noise. Lots of chipmunks and marmots as well.

3 months ago

Nice, easy walk with great views of Emerald Lake. There’s a great rock and the far end of the lake, perfect for sitting on and enjoying the view. I sat there for half an hour listening to the lions and watching fish jump - it was amazingly peaceful. It was misty and overcast when I was there but still very beautiful.

This is the best hike i have ever done... views are just unreal!

Boring road to walk. Easy tho. But getting to Lake O’Hara was well worth is. Omg

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