Floe Lake hike
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!
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.
|When to do|
Mid July - Early September
Floe Lake campground
Yes - On Leash
Out and back
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:
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.
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