Redoubt Lake via Boulder Pass
The hike to Redoubt Lake is an underappreciated hike in the Skoki region near Lake Louise. Hiking to Redoubt Lake allows you to take in Boulder Pass and Ptarmigan Lake before along the way. Not only is this a wonderful hike, but it also showcases some of the best larches in the Canadian Rockies.
Head to the Lake Louise Ski Resort on Whitehorn Drive. Before the ski hill, take the turn on the right towards Fish Creek parking lot. There is a sign there pointing towards Skoki Lodge. Begin the hike from the parking lot, following signs for Skoki Lodge and Hidden Lake.
|When to do|
July to early October
Hidden Lake (SK5)
Out and back
You can hike in the Skoki region any time of the year, but it is especially spectacular when the larches are out in September. We think that the vast basin below Redoubt Lake may have the best concentration of larches in the Canadian Rockies, so this is a great way to see the larches. It’s also a whole lot less busy then other popular larch hikes.
Going in September also means the days will be shorter, so it’s best to start as early as possible.
The first part of the hike goes up the fire road around the Lake Louise Ski Hill. Expect to be passed by trucks or vans heading up to ferry Skoki passengers to the top of the fire road or maintenance staff to work on the ski hill. The hike up the fire-road is a tedious part of this trip.
After 45-60 minutes of hiking you will reach the end of the fire road. Continue on the trail as it crosses ski runs and goes above Temple Lodge (which is roughly 100m below the route on the left). This part of the hike is the same as the hike to Skoki Lodge, so you’ll pass a large sign as you enter the trees, alerting you that you are on the Skoki Lodge trail.
Once in the forest, you will be on the trail to Boulder Pass. The trail is generally quite flat so it’s possible to make good progress, and you’ll come to the turnoff to Hidden Lake coming less than an hour later. The entire part of the route is in the shade, so it can be chilly in autumn or welcomingly cooler in the high summer.
Continue past the turnoff for Hidden Lake and soon go over Boulder Pass before you reach Ptarmigan Lake. From Ptarmigan Lake, go right instead of following the main path on the left-hand side of the lake (which goes to Packers Pass and Deception Pass).
The path on the right hugs the right-hand side of Ptarmigan Lake for about 200m before going up and away from the lake. The path is rocky at first. Redoubt Lake isn’t far away, in fact it is only about 800m from Ptarmigan Lake, while it gains about 80m.
Before you know it, you turn a corner and reach the tip of Redoubt Lake. It is stunning, especially in autumn. Redoubt Lake is a moderately large lake and the views are as good, or better than that of Ptarmigan Lake. More interesting, however, is the vast basin of larches to the south and east of it. This basin of larches seemed like one of the largest (and nicest) concentrations of larches we’ve seen in the Rockies!
We like to contour around the left-hand side of Redoubt Lake all the way to the end and explore the area.
To get return to the trailhead, follow your route back to Ptarmigan Lake. From Ptarmigan Lake, you could add on a trip to the Skoki Lakes (Zigadenus and Myosotis), however that makes this a 30.0km day. Instead, it’s better to just take the regular route back to the Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Along the way, the option to go and see Hidden Lake is hard to resist. It’s only an additional 3.0km and 120m of elevation gain, though that can be substantial on a long day like this.
Once back at the Lake Louise Ski Hill, the worst part of the day is the walk down the fire road to your car.
We can recommend having at a meal at Lake Louise Ski Resort. The food is good and there are rarely waits at the restaurants at Lake Louise. We like eating in the Whitehorn Lodge at the base of the ski hill – the Ten Peaks Cafeteria has some of the best fries in Lake Louise.
Be prepared for bears on this hike. The whole Skoki region is known for grizzly’s, so make sure you have bear spray and hike in a group.
There is a campsite at Hidden Lake (SK5) with 10 tent pads. This would make for a short and fun backpacking trip and allow you to explore Redoubt and Hidden Lake as well and make it two much easier days, as opposed to one long day.
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