Skoki Lakes is an epic hike in the Skoki region near Lake Louise. This route takes in Boulder Pass, Ptarmigan Lake, Packers Pass, the Skoki Lakes (Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes) and then Deception Pass before coming back. This is a long day, though it is especially pretty in Autumn.
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)
You can hike in the Skoki region any time of the year, but it is especially spectacular when the larches are out in September.
Going in September means the days will be shorter, so it’s best to start as early as possible and bring layers to take off / add as the day goes on. Deception Pass always seems to be a lot cooler and windier then at the parking lot.
The first part of the hike is up the fire road around the Lake Louise Ski Hill. Expect to be passed by trucks or vans heading up to ferry passengers for Skoki Lodge to the top of the fire road or trucks full of 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 in about an hour. The entire part of the route is in the shade, so it can be chilly in autumn or welcomingly cooler in the hot summer.
Continue past the turnoff for Hidden Lake and soon you head over Boulder Pass and then reach Ptarmigan Lake. Take the path as it goes around the left-hand side of Ptarmigan Lake. Follow the path for about 500m until you come to a trail splitting off to the left. Take this trail and follow it for roughly 1.3km as it rises 130m to Packers Pass.
Once at Packers Pass you can look down and see the Skoki Lakes, officially known as Zigadenus and Myosotis Lakes. Descend on the path towards Zigadenus Lake and enjoy the stunning views.
From the upper lake (Zigadenus), descend to the lower lake (Myosotis Lake) on a good trail, eventually reaching the top of the cliffs. From here, take a small chimney to the right (east) of the outlet waterfall that takes you safely down this tricky part of the hike. The top and bottom of this route are well marked with cairns and the route through is easy. If you’re approaching from the bottom the route begins to the left of the falls at a large cairn in a muddy spot. You won’t be able to see anything resembling a route through the cliffs at this point, but just follow the cairns and soon you’ll be staring up an easily ascended crack.
Once through the cliff, you’ll continue on the path that eventually takes you to Skoki Lodge. You can follow this trail back until you reach a junction and go right back to Deception Pass. You can also take a shortcut through the forest and save some time on a long day. To take the shortcut, go off-trail on your right. You’ll be hiking off-trail through a larch forest for roughly 750m, until you rejoin the main trail as it ascends from the Skoki Lodge side towards Deception Pass.
The views from Deception Pass are incredible, and you’ll see Ptarmigan Lake below you and a sliver of Redoubt Lake beside it. From Deception Pass, descend on the main trail that goes down to Ptarmigan Lake, which you contour on the right of, eventually reconnecting with the trail you came in on.
Follow this trail all the way down, back to the Lake Louise Ski Resort and then out on the service 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.
You can make a quick trip up to Redoubt Lake if you have the energy, it’s less than 1.0km from Ptarmigan Lake.
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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