Hector Lake Hike
The hike to Hector Lake is usually taken on by those who have booked a campsite and are ready to spend a night or two at the stunning turquoise lake. A difficult river ford is required to access the lake, so staying the night makes it all worth it. Enjoy a quick descent from the Icefields Parkway to the valley floor before crossing the icy river to access Hector Lake.
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Route Description for Hector Lake Hike
Before choosing Hector Lake as your destination of choice, be aware of the major river ford on this route. The hike is fairly short and simple, yet the ford can turn many hikers around. Avoid this route in the spring and early summer due to high, swift water. It is best to attempt this hike in August when the river levels can drop significantly. This water is glacial fed and extremely cold as well. It is not ideal for children or pets. Consider recent rainfalls, impending storms, and water levels before heading out for this trail.
If you are prepared to cross the icy river, you will be met with solitude on the other side. Hector Lake is often viewed from the highway viewpoint and very rarely visited by day hikers. It is a place where you can find some peace and quiet, enjoy the campground amenities, and fish in stocked waters. It is truly an excellent stop if you are willing to get wet.
Remember that there is a viewpoint at an established pullout, but that is not where your hike will start. From the Trans-Canada and Icefields Parkway junction, travel 18km to a small dirt pullout on the left. You will see a small wooden sign for Hector Lake Hike. This can be very confusing for some, so pay attention when looking for the trailhead.
This hike is only 2.5 km to the lake, so you won’t need lots of time to get there, unless the river ford takes a long time. From the parking lot, you will follow the path and descend to the valley bottom where you will continue to the river and cross.
It is a good idea to bring some sturdy sandals or water shoes for this crossing. River rock can be slippery and dangerous, so having sturdy footwear is a good idea.
After crossing the river, you will continue on until you reach the campground at the edge of the trail. There is a pit toilet and picnic table at the campground, which can make a day trip here much more enjoyable. There are occasionally some abandoned canoes hidden in the trees for visitors to take out, but don’t rely on these as they are not provided by Parks Canada.
The lake is full of rainbow trout, so bring your fishing gear if you plan to spend some time here. Many visitors choose to spend the night at Hector Lake to make the river ford worth it. Such a short approach allows campers to bring in some luxury items like extra fishing gear and food items. Consider booking a spot through Parks Canada’s reservation system for He5-Hector Lake.
If this is a day trip for you, return the way you came.
Hiking Route Highlights
Add this trip to a drive along the Icefields Parkway 93N. This scenic route offers plenty of stops and viewpoints, so adding the Hector Lake hike to your day or half-day outing is a great idea. Make sure to have purchased a valid park pass as it is required along the well-serviced Icefields Parkway.
Insider Hints for Hector Lake Hike
- Check river status and water levels on the trail report
- Save this hike for late summer
- Bring your fishing gear and try your luck with the rainbow trout that live here
Getting to the Hector Lake Hike Trailhead
From the Town of Banff, take the Trans-Canada Highway westbound and continue past Lake Louise. Come to a fork and take the right exit for the Icefields Parkway (93N) and pass through the entry gates. You’ll need a valid park pass to travel here. Continue for 18.0 km north of here until you find parking for Hector Lake on your left. You’ll be able to see the stunning lake from the highway. The trailhead is very difficult to spot. It is a small pullout with a tiny wooden sign that says, “Hector Lake Hike”.
Hector Lake Hike Elevation Graph
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Hector Lake Hike Reviews
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