Panorama of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike from Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies
Panorama of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike from Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

Peyto Lake Hike

Along Icefields Parkway
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Winter views of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkTrail of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkBeautiful lake from the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkSnowshoeing in the winter on the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkPicturesque views of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkPeyto Lake Viewpoint in Winter on a hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkValley views from the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National ParkThe incredible blues of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint from the trail near Icefields Parkway, Alberta, CanadaPanorama of the Canadian Rockies from the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike from Icefields Parkway, near Banff National Park

Peyto Lake Hike

Distance: 1.6mi
Elevation: 262ft
Time: 0.5-1h

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The hike to the stunning Peyto Lake should be on every Rocky Mountains itinerary. This Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike offers one of the finest views of Peyto Lake on an accessible, family-friendly hike. While the main viewpoint is crowded, make sure to visit the second one, which is often deserted.

IMPORTANT: The Peyto Lake viewpoint, viewing platform, upper and lower parking lots are closed for repairs. This closure includes surrounding facilities as well.

Peyto Lake Hike hike Map

Getting there

From Lake Louise take the Trans-Canada Highway west. Turn onto the Icefields Parkway and head towards Jasper for 25.5mi, parking in the Bow Summit parking lot.

I’ve done this 47 people have done this
I want to do this 88 want to do this route

About

When to do

May through November

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

Yes

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

High

Route Type

Out and back


Peyto Lake Hike
Elevation Graph


Peyto Lake Trail Description

Peyto Lake is currently under construction. It closed for summer use in August of 2019 and will not reopen fully until the spring of 2021. The area will remain open for winter use during 2019 and 2020. For more information and current updates, check the Parks Canada website.

We love the walk to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint.  For many visitors, this is one of the iconic views of the Canadian Rockies.  That means it’s busy, so get here early or late during the peak summer season.

We considered not sharing the Upper Peyto Lake Viewpoint on this trail description, as it has so often been a quiet refuge to share with close friends. It’s incredible that an extra 10-minute walk can yield such tranquility. Alas, we’ve decided to share this route with our friends on 10Adventures.

From the Bow Summit parking lot, walk towards the washrooms. Turn right and walk along the fence towards a path at the northwest corner of the parking lot. Here you will find a signed path that has been paved.

The trail to the Peyto Lake viewpoint rolls up and down, with additional signs describing what you’re seeing. After approximately 2133ft, you come to a wooden viewing platform, which is often packed with tourists. This is the main Peyto Lake Viewpoint, and there is a good reason for this of course – the view is spectacular!

From the viewing platform, we strongly suggest you head a bit farther uphill toward the Upper Peyto Lake Viewpoint. To do this, return to the paved path you were on and continue uphill. Roughly 492ft after leaving the viewing platform you will soon come to a sign showing that the path becomes a circuit. Go counter-clockwise on this circuit, and notice the man-made dirt trails heading out on your right. Wait until the paved path turns left, and there should be a sign indicating to go right towards the Upper Peyto Lake Viewpoint. From here there are many paths that all lead to the same place.

Take the main path and 820ft later you’ll come out of the trees at the spectacular viewpoint. Hopefully, you can savor the wonderful scenery all to yourself.  Be careful on the rocks as it’s easy to get swept up in the incredible views of Peyto Lake and not pay attention to where your feet go, and tumble from the rocks.

To return from the Upper Peyto Lake Viewpoint, head back to the main path and complete the circuit that you ascended. Return to the parking lot, always staying on paved paths.

Hiking Trail Highlights

Peyto Lake

Peyto Lake
Peyto Lake

The view from the Peyto Lake Overlook is awe-inspiring, but sometimes it also inspires questions. Learning a little more can satisfy your curiosity, or perhaps just lead to more questions. The first thing that stands out to most people is the vibrant color of Peyto Lake. Why is Peyto Lake so blue? The answer lies in its source. The water in Peyto Lake comes from the Peyto Glacier. Many glacier-fed lakes take on this incredible color due to “rock flour” or fine rock particles that the movement of the glacier grinds like flour. The way the sunlight reflects off of these particles suspended in the water gives the lake its stunning color. What you may not realize is that this color changes throughout the year. The rock flour builds up in the water over the course of a summer of melting, adding depth and richness to the color. When the lake first thaws in the spring, it is far less vibrant than in July or August, when the sediments have had time to build up. The color can also vary throughout the course of a single day depending on lighting conditions.

Standing beside the tranquil waters of Peyto Lake, they seem so inviting. What could be more refreshing after a hike than a dip in the lake? So many people ask if you can swim in Peyto Lake. Peyto Lake is not an official swimming area in Banff National Park, which means there are no lifeguards or other protections in place for swimmers, but there’s nothing to stop you from testing the water. Just remember that the water comes from melting glaciers, so most people find it much too cold for swimming, and that you swim at your own risk.

Insider Hints

  • Peyto Lake is a unique sight in Alberta and it's also considered one of the most unique lakes in Banff National Park.

  • The Icefields Parkway is remote, stop off at Laggans in Lake Louise for snacks before the drive.

  • Check out our YouTube video on this great family hike.

Comments

MUCHADVENTURE 1 year ago

It's all closed up now sadly, but we did this a couple years ago and really enjoyed it. Best view of Peyto you can get for very little effort. Worth coming to when you can!

RobCruz 1 year ago

My whole family was amazed by the scenery in Peyto Lake.

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Greenlife 1 year ago

Peyto Lake is much more beautiful in person than Instagram.

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MayP 1 year ago

This hike is majestic even though the climb was easy.

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Hiking-eh 1 year ago

The colour of the water is an amazing turquoise blue. Stunning!

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LukeMc 1 year ago

It's one of the most unique lakes we've seen so far.

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Dana 2 years ago

Hello, I know that as you mentioned the bow summit is going to be close this summer, but I wanted to ask - is there any other way to see peyto lake? I reallt want to see it and I don't mind to hike in a different way to see it

    Lukas Saville 2 years ago

    Hi Dana, It seems like all the trails are closed for the summer season. But you should be fine during winter. Check out this link for the most up-to-date info on the construction: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/visit/construction-banff.

Tomorti 2 years ago

loved it

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andjef 2 years ago

Beautiful views of Peyto Lake. highly recommend the upper viewpoint as opposed to the wooden platform. FYI...I believe the viewpoint is going to be closed during the 2019 season for construction and updates so may want to check before heading out.

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