From our hiking series, you are probably aware by now how fortunate we feel to live where we do. Golden’s backyard has some of the best scenery in the area, with its lush forests, elaborate peaks and rushing waterfalls. Yet, a little known gem exists one hour east from our little oasis, and it just so happens to be one of the most coveted drives in the world.
Highway 93N, otherwise known as the Icefields Parkway, links Lake Louise to Jasper. This 3-hour stretch of highway has some of the best views while driving. So it only makes sense that there are some amazing hikes and sights to explore along the way. We’ve tried and tested quite a few of them, and here are a list of our favourites:
For those who simply don't have time for a long stroll in the mountains, this quick trip to a spot overlooking the magnificent Peyto Lake is well worth a stop. This path is a short 1 km stroll through the woods on a paved trail, which goes to show how many visitors stop to take a peak at this lake.
Once you get to the lookout, you will be overwhelmed by the turquoise colour and mountainous landscape. It really is a picture from a postcard. But real life.
This parking lot is located on the west side of the Icefields Parkway, approximately 42 km north of Lake Louise.
This hike leads to one of the most beautiful meadows in all of the park… in our opinion! This moderate day hikes starts by climbing 2 km up a few switchbacks through the woods until you reach the meadow.
This meadow is 2 km long, 1 km wide and has wonderful views of the Bow Valley. Helen Creek flows through the centre of the meadow, flowing toward the Valley bottom. If you happen to take this journey in late June or July, chances are you will see wildflowers which are blooming everywhere!
Once you continue on this path towards Helen Lake you will see some stunning views of the Bow Valley and beyond. The lake itself is not the most exciting of places, but you have the option of moving forward (and UP!) towards Dolomite Pass. From here you will see views of Dolomite Peak, Cirque Peak, Mount Hector, Wapta Icefields, Bow Valley and Helen Lake - so much from one spot! This is a wonderful spot to take a break and have some food before turning back.
This trailhead is located 1km south of Bow Lake, 38 km north on the parkway from Lake Louise.
Bow Glacier Falls
This one is a gem of a hike behind the stunning emerald-coloured Bow Lake, which is seen on the west side of the parkway. The lake itself has a beautiful magic to it, but the real beauty can be seen behind the lake.
A 5-kilometre trail meanders alongside the lake, to its back where you will make your way past boulders, through woods and along loose gravel to a lovely waterfall that flows directly from Bow Glacier. This is the headwater for the Bow River, which is the river that runs through the City of Calgary. Stop and soak in the beauty of the landscape you just walked across. It truly is a marvel.
Since the trail is very close to the edge of the lake, and water from the falls flows all alongside the trail, it is not uncommon for some water to consume the trail at points. So be mindful of your shoes when planning this short half-day excursion.
This hike is located at Bow Lake, which is found around 37 km on the parkway from Lake Louise. The trailhead is behind Num-Ti-Lodge.
A more mighty of a mission, this 22 km roundtrip hike gains more than 800 meters of elevation, but also showcases some brilliant views.
The first part of the trail is an ascent through a thick forest, but starts to flatten once you make your way past Mosquito Creek. Six kilometres in you will find a lovely picnic area, and past here you will once again be trudging through forest. BUT, once you reach the end of the tree line, you will find joy in the views of the sweeping meadows. You will walk along a slope to the pass itself, which offers some magnificent views. You have the option of continuing on to North Molar Pass if you feel up to the mission.
The trailhead is a bit more tricky to find, as it starts in the trees away from the highway. If you park at the Mosquito Creek campground, cross the highway and follow the sign north of the bridge. Here you will be find the sign leading up to Molar Pass.
This highway is one of our favourite places to explore in the area, and we highly recommend it. The drive itself is worth your time! If you are heading to or from Jasper, a short stop at the lookouts are well worth the extra minutes. You will not be disappointed.
Live an adventure!
Cheers, from the Glacier crew.