Merlin Lake Backpacking Trail

This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
2 days
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
33.6 km
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
1,569 m
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Directions to Trailhead
Merlin Lake Backpacking Trail

The backpacking route to the Merlin Lake Trail follows the main Skoki route and covers all the popular landmarks in the area. Climb both Boulder and Deception passes and hike alongside Ptarmigan Lake on your way to the incredible Skoki Valley.

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Route Description for Merlin Lake Backpacking Trail

Hiking the Merlin Lake Trail through Skoki Valley is an excellent weekend backpacking trip. You will need to plan ahead to ensure you are able to book a spot at Merlin Meadows (Sk18). If you are flexible, keep watching for cancellations and you might get lucky!

From the Fish Creek Parking lot, begin hiking up the road behind the Lake Louise Ski Resort. When you can see the Temple Ski Lodge, start looking upslope for signs leading to Skoki Lodge. Take this forested trail and cross Corral Creek on a small footbridge. You will continue on the main trail over boulder pass and beyond Ptarmigan Lake to the sometimes-dreaded Deception Pass. The pass isn’t bad once you realize it’s all downhill from there!

Descend the pass towards Skoki Lodge and hike 1.2 km beyond the lodge to find your camp at Merlin Meadows (Sk18). Set up camp and ditch your gear before hiking back to Skoki Lodge and taking the trail to Merlin Lake. You will follow signs to Packer’s Pass on the right. Merlin Lake is 2.9 km and 196m from the campground and is worth the extra distance!

Remember to bring some cash and treat yourself to some beer or wine from Skoki Lodge. It is open to the public in the afternoons for tea time, where food and drinks are available for purchase. Return the way you came on day two to complete this out-and-back trip.

Getting to the Merlin Lake Backpacking Trail Trailhead

You will be starting at the Fish Creek parking lot for your trip along the Merlin Lake Trail route. From the Lake Louise Village, take Lake Louise Drive southbound towards the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Cross the Trans-Canada Highway and continue on this road until you see signs for Skoki Lodge and Fish Creek Road. Take this road that soon becomes gravel until you reach the parking lot.

Route Information

  • When to do


  • Backcountry Campsites

    Campground: Merlin Meadows Sk18

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage


  • Crowd Levels


  • Route Type

    Out and back

Merlin Lake Backpacking Trail Elevation Graph

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