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Lake Minnewanka Lakeside

  • Difficulty
  • 17.1km
  • 360 m
  • 3.5-6h
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A walk around Lake Minnewanka is a special treat for those in Banff. This trail winds along a beautiful mountain-fringed lake and can be as short or as long as you want. It’s especially wonderful in spring and autumn when most other hikes are snowbound.

Getting there

Drive to Lake Minnewanka from either the Trans-Canada Highway turnoff or take Banff Avenue North over the Trans-Canada Highway. Once on Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, head to the parking lot by the dam.

elevation

Total Gain: 360m

About

Type of Hike Out and Back
Crowd Levels Moderate
Route Signage Good
Toilets Trailhead
Family Friendly Yes
Backcountry Campgrounds Yes
When to Do June through October

 Detailed Description

The walk along the shores of Lake Minnewanka is a wonderful hike, offering the option of customizing the route distance depending on your fitness. The longer you go, the fewer people you will see.

For this hike, expect Lake Minnewanka to be close by on your right while you walk out and on your left on the way back.

From the Lake Minnewanka parking lot, go in the direction of the lake and follow a road. There will be a few buildings on your left and Lake Minnewanka below on your right. You’ll pass above the boat launch for the Minnewanka River Cruises. Continue on the road, as it becomes a path, passing several picnic areas.  You can also scamper down to a man-made path closer to Lake Minnewanka, and there are some wonderful photos around here.

The path now continues to follow the scenic shoreline of Lake Minnewanka until you must cross over Stewart Canyon (1.6 km). After this bridge there is a path off to your left up Stewart Canyon, however take the path that switchbacks up through the forest.   You continue on this path, eventually rounding the inlet from Stewart Canyon and coming back towards Lake Minnewanka, with lovely views out across the lake. Beware the steep drop off on your right at times.

Continue along the trail, crossing some basic bridges until you approach LM8, a backcountry campground roughly 8.8km from the parking lot. There are frequent deer sightings here so beware of ticks as well. This is also a great place for lunch, particularly if you walk down to the beach and enjoy the beautiful views over Lake Minnewanka. From here you have options if your energy tank isn’t drained yet, such as continuing on to LM9 (1km) or LM11 (3 km), two other backcountry campgrounds along the lake. You could also ascend Aylmer Lookout (4km each way, 560m elevation gain).

Return the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • Watch out for ticks on this trip, Aylmer Lookout is famous for early season ticks.
  • If you’re feeling very strong, you could consider changing course and doing the beautiful Aylmer Pass.
  • There are some wonderful backcountry campgrounds along the route which are good options for people learning to backpack.