Explore the most popular lake 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.

11 days 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.

12 days 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.

12 days 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.

25 days 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.

on Emerald Lake Trail

1 month 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.

Great hike along the lake !

nature trips
1 month 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.

1 month 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

1 month 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!!

1 month 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.

1 month 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!

beautiful and scenic, easy strolling. what emerald glow!

Trailhead is almost 2 KM up O'Hara Lake Road, and is closed to vehicles. Don't forget to add the extra mileage onto your hike! Heavily forested hike. Didn't see another soul which was nice compared to the other park hikes. Could hear highway traffic noise along the trail, but the lake was nice and quiet.

I went to the top back in 05.
It was a clear day in July or August.

Be sure to bring a sweater or a jacket though if you plan to summit. It was shorts and t-shirts at the bottom, but long sleeves all around at the top.

Trail is long. Dedicate the day to it and bring lunch and lots of water. I had 2 liters and it was only just enough.

Trail is suitable for sneakers if dry.

My group was mostly people who were fit, but had never hiked up a mountain before. This trail requires no special skills, but is going to put fitness to the test.

Views were spectacular.

I hope to go back.

Just did this today and WOW! So amazing. You walk through 2 miles of what I called “enchanted forest” then a ridge of meadows with wildflowers all around and then you cross a meadow and a water falls that look like the song of music. The switch backs to the ridge for the view are tough but not unbearable and the view is worth it! We did not do cirque peak and we consider ourselves pretty decent hikers. It was straight up about another 1700 feet.. we were content where we stopped. We left at 8am and only ran into 3 couples up the mountain then a bunch on the way back! I would go as early as possible. We didn’t see a bear but thought we heard one so bring bear spray! Lots of marmots too! Enjoy!

Amazing and stunning view after 11 kms walking uphill. Tons of Mosquitoes! Back to park lot, I took the shuttle after paying 10 dollar cash. Seats were plenty, as two school bus run at the same time.

This is a nice easy trail around the lake. It goes through a very damp dense forest into a big opening and around the other side of the lake is pretty sunny. We use this as a nice 5 km stretching our legs for a big hike tomorrow. Go early as it gets very crowded. Emerald Lake was a beautiful Clay see you awake the colors are gorgeous and if you go before the crowds and canoeing starts the lake is like glass and you can catch the mountains reflections

on Emerald Lake Trail

2 months ago

This review is only for the “hike” around the lake. I put hike in quotations because it’s more of a stroll. Beautiful stroll through. If you want to enjoy a fairly easy hike, this will do it. It’s about 50/50 in terms of shade/exposed. Emerald Lake is really a sight to see - gorgeous water and towering Canadian Rockies. I went mid July, late morning and the weather was fine. Rained a little, but nothing to write home about. Recommend getting to the lake as early as you can - parking fills up quick (at least during the summer season).

This was a great hike with a wonderful view at the peak. The last section (the actual climb up the peak) is rather strenuous and a bit of a scramble. Should probably be in decent condition to do that part.

2 months ago

Emerald Lake is phenomenally beautiful. The walk around the lake is basically flat and a very enjoyable stroll. We continued on to the basin, which honestly wasn’t really worth the trip. The streams at the top were fun to dip your feet in, but the views are much better on the other trails we’ve done during our week in Canada.

Fantastic hike. Truly a mix of all the Rockies has to offer. A glacial lake, a pine forest, waterfalls, streams and a glacier. Can’t go wrong. Lost almost all the tourists by the time we turned off toward the basin. Saw a few folks on the way. Very quiet around the back rim of the lake. It is crowded, but parking does open up as most people don’t stay too long and there’s parking along the road in. Arrived around 1pm and found a spot quickly.

Simply, read again David Kleinkopf review; same for me. It is definitly a hard hike because of the steepness of last portion. After second junction to lake Katherine, trail on your left is not well marked and cairns are not very helpfull, because you’ll find them everywhere... use downloaded map for this portion. Once on the ridge, path is quite clear: go to the top!

We’ve hiked all over the world and this hike definitely ranks as one of our top five! It has everything-beautiful vistas on the way up and on the way back, a waterfall, gorgeous lakes, phenomenal meadows full of wildflowers, playful marmots, a ptarmigan family and best of all the views from the top of the ridge are nothing short of jaw dropping. We were truly sorry we had to start down. The day was perfect, cool but almost no wind at the top. Great place for lunch. This is our fourth day hiking out of Banff and Lake Louise and have five days left. It will be hard to top today!!!’

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