Panorama on Floe Lake hike in Kootenay National Park
Panorama on Floe Lake hike in Kootenay National Park

Floe Lake hike

Kootenay National Park
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Floe Lake hike

Distance: 14.2mi
Elevation: 2,605ft
Time: 6-9h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.4 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
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The Floe Lake hike in Kootenay National Park takes you to one of the highlights of the Rockwall Trail – Floe Lake. The initial part of the hike to Floe Lake takes you through a burnt forest with stunning views and lots of wildflowers. As the trail steepens, you switchback your way up to the stunning vistas and gorgeous Floe Lake - which is perfect for a well-deserved cool down after a big hike!

Floe Lake hike Map

Getting there

Directions to the Floe Lake Trailhead are to head west from Banff on the Trans Canada towards Lake Louise. At castle Junction take the AB - 93S towards Radium Hot Springs and continue onto BC-93S as you enter British Columbia. The Floe Lake trailhead will be well signed to your right, after about 13.7mi from the AB/BC border.

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About

When to do

Mid July - Early September

Backcountry Campsites

Floe Lake campground

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Floe Lake
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Floe Lake

The hike to Floe Lake is not easy, but it sure is worth every bit of sweat once you get there! The entire hike has great views. Because of the fact that the trail to Floe Lake is largely through a burn area, this means a lot of sun exposure on a hot day, so bring lots of water.

That being said, the massive fire that ravaged through here in 2003 has left meadows of wildflowers as you make your way along the first 5.0mi of the trail. The open landscape also allows for plenty of breathtaking views as you make your way up to the lake.

Once you have parked at the Floe Lake Trailhead Parking and gathered all your gear for the day, head towards the trailhead and begin down a path to cross the first bridge over the Kootenay River, then after 15 minutes cross another bridge.

The trail to Floe Lake continues on a slight incline past the creek full of burnt, washed out trees. As you meander through this initial part of the Floe Lake trail take time to stop and admire the views around you.

After 3.6mi the trails starts to gain more elevation – about 771ft, in a short period. As you reach the top of this initial climb, the trail contours to the right side of the valley across slopes of wildflowers and berries.

Head in the direction of a waterfall and take the path to the right, just before the waterfall. The path becomes slightly less clear here due to avalanche debris. This is where the real elevation gain begins, as the trail gains about 1214ft over several switchbacks.

At the top of this climb you will reach the Floe Lake basin, and walking here can feel like an eternity as you search for Floe Lake. Soon you come to Floe Lake campground, which you walk through and down to Floe Lake. Take time at Floe Lake to have a snack and look around at the glaciers on the other side of the lake. There is a point by some picnic tables that provides fine views.

The name Floe Lake comes from the small icebergs that used to flow through the lake after glacial calving. Unfortunately, that site is rare (if it even happens at all anymore) due to the shrinking of the glaciers.

Once you have finished exploring and fueled up, head back to the Floe Lake parking lot the way you came.

Find other great hikes in Kootenay National Park:

Insider Hints

  • This day hike can be done as an overnight trip at Floe Lake Campground or it can be a multi-day trip along the Rockwall Trail in Kootenay NP. The Floe Lake Campground is the most popular backcountry campground in Kootenay National Park, so book as soon as the reservation period opens each year.

  • Start early and bring plenty of water, this hike can get very hot as you are going through a burn area with little to no shade.

Comments

YukihiroSato 1 year ago

Incredibly exhausting hike. I almost gave up but the views are very nice!

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
9h 00m Time Taken
AnnSue 1 year ago

I went here with 2 of my friends and it was a wonderful experience. The trail starts off easy and then gets strenuous as the trail gradually steepens. The burnt forest is actually a beautiful sight. But the highlight was definitely the bluest water of beautiful Floe Lake. This is where we camped out for the night.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
9h 00m Time Taken
Hiking-eh 1 year ago

A fabulous trail to the lake with flowers in abundance.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Niamh Gorget 2 years ago

It was such a beautiful experience. Everything looks rewarding once you get to the lake. Everything before that is pretty amazing as well. We enjoyed this trip a lot!

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Nathan R. 2 years ago

One of the more beautiful hikes I've ever been! It can be steep, muddy, wet, and challenging any time of the year but It's totally worth it.

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Rowan Sanders 2 years ago

I love driving through Kootenay National Park. There are so many gorgeous locations to pull off and enjoy the river, mountains, and streams. The entrance at Radium Hot Springs through Sinclair Canyon is quite noticeable.

9.0 Overall Rating
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WendyMag. 2 years ago

This hike was definitely one of the most beautiful and scenic hikes I’ve done. The trail was really easy to follow and was on the narrow side. So many wild flowers and berries.

9.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
AveryJ. 2 years ago

Incredible vistas and majestic mountains! I also fancy the alpine forest and abundant wild flowers!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Tara Green 2 years ago

Was there last summer. It was an amazing, gentle elevation and very scenic panoramic views and will certainly do it again

10.0 Overall Rating
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8h 00m Time Taken
Meighan 2 years ago

Nice hike! I would rate this hike moderate. The last 2 km gets steep but it’s a gradual steepness rather than straight incline. It's definitely worth it!

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
8h 00m Time Taken
29 Comments Show all

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