Scrambling Paget Peak offers a spectacular view of the glaciated peaks of the Great Divide and a fantastic aerial view of turquoise Sherbrooke Lake. An old fire lookout en route offers a wonderful place for a sheltered snack and serves as a nice backup plan should the weather turn bad.
From Banff, go west on the Trans-Canada Hwy. 14.4km past the Lake Louise overpass is Wapta Lake. Park at the Great Divide Lodge and the trailhead is at the back of the parking area. If this is already at capacity, there is another parking lot with an outhouse if you drive 200m past the Great Divide Lodge.
|When to do|
July - September
Yes - On Leash
Out and back
Paget Peak is a very accessible scramble in Yoho National Park. Yes, it is technically not in Banff, but we included it here because it is so close and it’s still a great option if you are visiting Banff National Park.
From the parking lot with the outhouse, head out on the signed trailhead. Paget Peak shares the same trailhead as Sherbrooke Lake and Niles Meadow, so you’ll notice signage at the start for those hikes too.
After 100m you’ll pass the junction that goes to the other trailheads. Continue going uphill on a path through a heavy forest. At 1.4km you will come to another junction, with a trail to Sherbrooke Lake and Niles Meadow branching off to the left of this trail. Go right and take the path to Paget Lookout.
The trail to Paget Lookout is in excellent condition and well graded. Paget Lookout (now abandoned) is an old fire lookout which you reach at the 3.6km mark. Views are great from here too, so even if this is the end of your day you’ll still feel a sense of accomplishment.
To continue to Paget Peak, pick up the trail entering the forest just behind a big boulder on the door side of the lookout (north). The trail is initially quite obvious. After five minutes from the lookout, you will enter a boulder and scree field. From here, the trail begins ascending much more steeply and is less distinct. Use cairns to help guide you from this point forward. There are three obstacles between you and the summit at this point: some rock bands, a steep ascent, and a short down-climb.
The rock bands are encountered first, however can be easily skirted on the left (on a decent trail if you didn’t lose it).
The steep ascent of the false summit is next, however that isn’t too challenging if you chose your route carefully. We prefer larger rocks to the small lose scree of the trail over this section.
The most challenging, or at least unnerving part of this hike is a short 2m down-climb at the north end of the false summit. It’s easy, but there is a real sense of exposure here and if you get bad vertigo you’ll feel it. It’s not unusual for people to stop at this down-climb and call it a day.
If you do the down-climb, it’s a short walk to the slightly higher summit to the north. You are almost 1000m higher than your car at this point! From the summit it is possible to continue further north along the obvious ridge to a higher point.
To get back to your car, retrace your steps all the way down. Descending is quick and easy, especially from the lookout down. If you’re feeling good, consider a quick jaunt over to Sherbrooke Lake. When you come to the junction where the trail split near the start of the hike, take the path right that is signed for Sherbrooke Lake for a picturesque photo stop.
Pack lots of water as only one small stream is passed very early in the trail up to Paget Fire Lookout. After that it is dry and often hot.
Watch the cliffs and open slopes of Paget Peak for mountain goats.
Combine the climb to Paget Peak with a quick nip over to Sherbrooke Lake if you have energy. It’s a nice bonus.
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