Peyto Lake Hike
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.
From Lake Louise take the Trans-Canada Highway west. Turn onto the Icefields Parkway and head towards Jasper for 41.0km, parking in the Bow Summit parking lot.
|When to do|
May through November
Out and back
Peyto Lake Hike
Route Description for Peyto Lake Hike
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 650m, 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 150m 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 250m 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
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.
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.
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