Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail
Backpacking to Taylor Lake is a premier overnight trip in Banff National Park. This trail may lead straight uphill to its destination, but only for a short distance. You’ll work hard to get there with plenty of time to relax and recover. This is one of the few campsites in the Banff backcountry that is located at a lake, so pack your fishing gear—you’ll need it here.
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Route Description for Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail
Backpacking to Taylor Lake is a straightforward trip that is a great choice for all abilities. Some may choose to head up for a day hike to check out the area before booking. It boasts wildflower meadows, a pristine subalpine lake, and incredible larch forests. There are excellent day hikes from this campground as well.
The campsite itself is equipped with five tent pads in the forest set back from the lake. You will find the cook area out in the open with unobstructed views.
From the parking lot, enter the gate through the wildlife fence and be sure to close the gate behind you. Take a right from the gate and make your way down the wide, flat trail. The flat section won’t last long before the elevation begins. This trail takes hikers steadily uphill until reaching the destination, so be prepared and pack lots of water.
Endure the 6.0 km of climbing, crossing various footbridges along the way. This trail can become extremely muddy in the spring due to lingering snow. The last footbridge will take you over Taylor Creek—a sign that you have almost arrived! Arrive at a meadow where the trail flattens out. Stay on the trail as this is a sensitive subalpine environment replete with delicate wildflowers. There is plenty of groundwater here too, so verging off the main trail will leave you with soggy boots any month of the year!
Come across a junction for O’Brien Lake. This is one of the short day hikes that are optional additions to your trip. Stay right and continue to Taylor Lake. You will emerge from the woods to an astounding view of the lake and Mount Bell towering above. Mount Bell gains 725 m above the lake with sheer cliffs that are hard to tear your glance away from. The back of the lake features a 50 m waterfall that is worth exploring.
Fishermen should bring their rods and try their best at snagging some Cutthroat Trout. Be sure to have a National Parks fishing license present with you whenever fishing in the park.
The campground is about 50 m from the trail on the right. Look for the campground sign to find the allocated tent pads. The campground is equipped with food storage, picnic tables, a pit toilet, and five tent pads.
Day 1: From Taylor Lake Trailhead to Taylor Lake
Taylor Lake (Ta6)
Reserve your spot at the Taylor Lake Campground through the Parks Canada reservation system online or in person at the Banff or Lake Louise Visitor Centres. It is equipped with five tent pads. Users are allowed to place one tent per pad, holding up to six people. Hammocks are not allowed. Food storage, toilets, and tables are available.
- Tent pads: 5 tent pads
- It costs $11.95 to reserve in advance
- Site Fee: $10.02 per person/night
- Fire pit: No
- Dogs allowed: On-Leash
- Campfire allowed: No
- Maximum stay: 3 nights
- Maximum group size: 10
- Allowed per tent pad: 6 people
Day 2: Taylor Lake Campground to Trailhead
Pack up and enjoy your last moments in the subalpine meadows before heading back to the trailhead. Parks Canada requires that users are fully packed up and moved out of their tent pad by 11am to make room for newcomers. If you would like to leave your gear behind to explore some day hikes before leaving, be sure to stow your food and scented items appropriately before heading off.
On your descent, follow the main trail the way you came all the way to the parking lot. Watch out for the O’Brien Lake junction and make sure you stay on the main trail here.
Backpacking to the Bryant Creek Shelter is straightforward from Mount Shark. It is a simple trail that leads directly to the shelter in the valley bottom. We recommend spending two nights at the Bryant Creek Shelter to give yourself enough time to explore what the area has to offer. The shelter is a great place to set up a base for hiking around the Assiniboine area.
- Day 1
Trailhead to Taylor Lake Campground
Distance: 6.6 km
Elevation gain: 605 m
Campground: Taylor Lake Ta6
- Day 2
Taylor Lake Campground to Trailhead
Distance: 6.6 km
Elevation gain: Approx. None
Backpacking Trail Highlights
Taylor Lake is a lesser-known alpine lake in Banff National Park and gets much less exposure than the other famed lakes of the area. This campground is one of few sites that are located at the shores of the lake they are named after. Lots of backcountry sites in Banff National Park are named after a nearby lake that could be 1.0 km-5.0 km away.
Plan to relax on the shores of Taylor Lake and take in the incredible reflections of Mount Ball during your stay at the Taylor Lake Campground.
Insider Hints for Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail
- Plan your visit in midsummer for wildflower viewing. The flowers extend down the trail and are sure to please throughout July.
- If you miss the wildflowers, book a site during larch season. The larch forests extend from Taylor Lake up to Panorama Ridge, north of the campground. The forest turns golden through the fall before the trees lose their needles, so timing this correctly is vital to your experience.
- Bring bear spray and prepare to be bear aware during your stay!
Getting to the Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail Trailhead
Travel westbound on the Trans-Canada Highway, pass Castle Junction, and continue for 8.0 km before turning left for Taylor Lake. There will be a large sign on the Highway, and you will need to cross the eastbound traffic to get to the parking lot. Pull into the turning lane and be cautious when crossing.
Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail Elevation Graph
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Taylor Lake Backpacking Trail Reviews
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