Shadow Lake Snowshoe
Shadow Lake Snowshoe Map

Shadow Lake Snowshoe

Banff National Park
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Shadow Lake Snowshoe

Shadow Lake Snowshoe

Distance: 21.3mi
Elevation: 3,333ft
Time: 8-10h

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The Shadow Lake Snowshoe Trail is rated as difficult due to its distance. It is a well-graded trail that leads you up roughly 3281ft over 10.6mi before returning the way you came. This is commonly used by those who will be staying the night at Shadow Lake Lodge and not often frequented by day users. If you are comfortable with the longer distance, this is an excellent way to spend a full day in the winter and experience Shadow Lake amid snowy scenery.

Shadow Lake Snowshoe Map

Getting there

From the Town of Banff, travel westbound on the Trans-Canada Highway until you see signs for Redearth. There will be a turning lane on the left side, leading you across the highway. Cross the opposing lanes with caution and enter the parking lot. You will find a trail kiosk here with a map. Enter the gate and begin your trail off to the right.

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About

When to do

December-March

Backcountry Campsites

Shadow Lake Lodge

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Shadow Lake Snowshoe
Elevation Graph


Shadow Lake Snowshoe Trail Description

This is a very long distance for a day trip and is reserved only for those who are familiar with their abilities. This trip requires a full day pack with extra food and supplies to potentially spend a night out. Shadow Lake Lodge is a great point of contact in case of emergency. The trail is not technical or highly difficult; however, the sheer distance of this route can surprise many.

Despite the long distance, the trip into Shadow Lake is a stunning forested trail along Redearth Creek. The whimsy of winter shows on the snow-covered trees and icy creeks, making this an excellent long trip in the heart of the season. This is a multi-use trail, so be aware of oncoming users on speedy skis or fat bikes.

From the parking lot, the trail climbs gradually on the wide road. You will be in the forest for most of the trail, but don’t be deterred. Views open up from time to time and the peace and quiet of the thick forest are enough to satisfy anyone out on a day trip. The road is now defunct and strictly used as the trail to Shadow Lake. After roughly 4.3mi, you will cross a small bridge at the Lost Horse Campground that is popular in the summer months. This trail sees much more traffic in the summer. It is popular for backpackers, bikers, and lodge visitors. The lodge still has traffic in the winter, most commonly from cross-country skiers.

At roughly the 6.5mi mark, you will reach a junction. This is where summer users lock their bikes to continue to the lake. The trail to the left leads to Redearth Warden Cabin and the Pharaoh Creek trail that leads to the Egypt Lake area. Stay right and follow a steep section of the trail before it levels out for the last 1.5mi to the lodge area. Continue on the main trail from the lodge to the lakeshore to complete your experience. The massive Mount Ball rises high above Shadow Lake.

Feel free to travel onto the frozen lake on existing trails created by lodge users. You can check out the lakeshore or just explore the expanse of the lake. Find some sunshine and enjoy your lunch and a hot drink before returning.

On your way back, make sure to stick to one side of the trail to avoid oncoming adventurers. Always yield to uphill traffic and keep an eye on the trail in case skiers and bikers are whizzing down the trail. Don’t be discouraged when others pass you with speed, they probably had to work a lot harder to get there. This is where long day trips verge on being too long. Make sure to fuel and hydrate properly in order to make it back to the trailhead safely.

Route Highlights

Shadow Lake Lodge

Shadow Lake is a strong player in Banff’s past, and the lodge itself holds plenty of purchase in the history of exploration in the park. This area was frequented by rail workers and became a popular spot to rest after making the trip up Redearth Creek. Canadian Pacific Rail Workers built the lodge in 1930 with hopes to connect it to other lodges, such as Assiniboine Lodge and Storm Mountain Lodges via horseback. After CPR sold many properties off, the lodge was accrued by the Brewster family, who were the owners of a successful travel company. The family started hosting guests in 1991 and sold the lodge to the Alpine Club of Canada in 2019. Make sure to visit the original cabin that is used as a guest lounge. Heighten your visit to Shadow Lake by booking a night in one of their rustic cabins.

Insider Hints

  • Plan for a full day adventure with extra food and drinks to ensure you return safely.

  • Book a night or two at the famous historic Shadow Lake Lodge for a divine backcountry experience unlike any other.

  • Explore the frozen lake upon arrival by taking one of the many intertwining trails.

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