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Emerald Lake Trail

MODERATE 142 reviews
#1 of 44 trails in

Emerald Lake Trail is a 10.8 kilometer moderately trafficked loop trail located near Columbia-Shuswap A, British Columbia, Canada that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
10.8 km
ELEVATION GAIN
373 m
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

snowshoeing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

partially paved

views

waterfall

wildlife

muddy

snow

Think Lake Louise without the crowds and with better chances of seeing North American wildlife. This trail is the Rockies at its best. It combines a circuit of a green glacial lake surrounded by mountains, with a diversion to Emerald Basin through forests and avalanche chutes to see the glacier that created it all. In the warmer months, you can add canoeing to the activity list. The hiking will be more limited in winter, but you have skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing options to make up for it. The trail as moderate because of some steep sections in the climb to Emerald Basin, but you can just stick to the lake circuit if you want an easier level stroll. The hike to the basin is rewarding not just for the views - it also gets you up close with friendly colonies of ground squirrels and marmots. It is popular by Yoho standards, but you are not going to get the pedestrian traffic jams of nearby Lake Louise or Banff. The good news is that even on busy summer days, most Emerald Lake visitors don't venture too far from the car park at the start of the trail to capture their photo opportunity. And once you are off the lake circuit, the basin trail feels like true wilderness.

snowshoeing
1 month 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.

hiking
1 month ago

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).

2 months ago

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

2 months ago

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

hiking
3 months 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
3 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.

walking
3 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.

hiking
3 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.

4 months ago

Hike to the basin. Totally worth it.

hiking
4 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.

hiking
4 months ago

Great hike along the lake !

4 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!!

hiking
4 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!

walking
4 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.

5 months ago

beautiful and scenic, easy strolling. what emerald glow!

5 months ago

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

hiking
5 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).

5 months ago

hiking
5 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.

5 months ago

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.

hiking
5 months ago

The emarald color of the lake is incredible. Trail is mostly flat around the lake and little step at the end to see the lake from above

6 months ago

The first part of the hike, around the lake, was very easy and flat. We actually saw a moose and her two babies swimming here, very cool. I highly recommend extending the hike to get all the way up to Emerald Basin. The hike is moderate, and very secluded, great chance to escape the crowds. Don’t be alarmed by the initial steep start, it flatter out after about 30 minutes. The view from the top does not display the lake, although it is still incredible and serene. I liked Emerald Lake better than Lake Louise, personally.

hiking
6 months ago

Best hike so far. Just gorgeous.

hiking
6 months ago

Great hike. Not the typical steep mountain views you get at the end of a hike but still gorgeous. We did it in the middle of a downpour and it took us around 5.5 hours. The lake is gorgeous, and even the day before Canada Day the crowds were not out of control... we had a good portion of the trail to ourselves.

hiking
6 months ago

Smaller in size than Lake Louise but personally like this better because of the mountain position relative to the lake and it has less people. Hiked the basin trail, not crowded and mostly in lush green forest

6 months ago

the rain was pouring down and because of a heavely flowing mountain stream we couldn't reach the actual basin and the peaks of the surrounding mountains were hidden in the clouds... Still it was a nice walk

nature trips
7 months ago

Beautiful views. We only did the lake circuit, but we loved it.The first hundred meters of the trail are very crowded, but it thins out as you progress. For the First 2km’s or so, you walk on a heavily used gravel path. Then, you’re into a lush forest with wonderful huge trees. Second part is more of an easy hike with lots of roots and muddy spots. We ended up here because there were no parking spots left at Lake Louise and it was TOTALLY worth it.

7 months ago

We brought our 4 dogs yesterday June 7 and had a blast. We hiked up to the top but were too tired to go further and heard from another couple there was still snow farther up. Not sure what else was to view? We took our time and it was 13km total an about 4-5 hours with lots of down time. Beautiful streams along the path . An the waterfall was gorgeous . Busy in parking lot an around lake but fine up on the trail up the mountain . Hardly saw anyone .

7 months ago

Hiked up to the Basin today! Trail around the lake was in great condition, up to the basin was clear until the avalanche chutes. Still lots of snow remaining, but very much passable. Snow is packed and you stay on top in almost all sections. Beautiful views, short section of uphill climbing but 100% worth it.

hiking
8 months ago

Completed this blast June. Was unable to do the entire loop due to avalanche snow cutting off half the loop. The lake is truly stunning and well worth it.

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