• Activities:

    Camping, Fishing, Photography, Swimming, Backpacking, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Summer, Autumn

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3.1 Miles

Lake
Scenic
Swimming Hole

You may have this hike all to yourself. This hike is 5km roundtrip. Minimal elevation, with a small drop of 60m to get to the lake. Be careful when fording the river especially if you're going in the early months.

Hector Lake is one of the larger lakes in Banff National Park. It is surrounded by the Waputik Range to the west, and offers pristine views of the mountains. Hector Lake is idyllic and peaceful. Most tourists drive past the trailhead on the parkway, which means the hike is not at all busy. An excellent campsite is at the end of the trail, with several canoes hidden in the trees available for use. Plenty of rainbow trout populate the lake. Be very careful fording Bow River, as it is very cold and can be high at certain times of the year with the runoff.

Hector Lake trailhead is reached by driving 18 kilometers north on the Icefields Parkway from the Trans-Canada junction. The trailhead is a minor pull off on the left with a little wooden sign labeled “Hector Lake Hike”. The trailhead for Hector Lake is not easily found. It might be a good idea to stop at the Visitors Center at Lake Louise to check current river conditions, and to get directions to the trailhead. There’s a very good chance you may be the only one parked at the trailhead.

The trail to the lake is 5 kilometers roundtrip. It is relatively flat with elevation dropping 200 feet/60 meters to the lakeshore. A possibly dangerous ford of the bow river is what makes this hike more intermediate. Special care is required in crossing the river.

When heading out on this adventure, a Parks Canada pass is required to stop anywhere in Banff National Park. The daily pass is $9.80 per adult. An annual pass is available for $67.70.

After your adventure, head to Bill Peyto’s Café located in the hostel in Lake Louise is an excellent option for beers and burgers after the hike. It’s located only 30 minutes south of the trailhead and offers fairly priced food in great surroundings.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Backpack
  • Tent
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Pad
  • Extra change of socks
  • Walking stick (to ford the river) or Trekking Poles
  • Food
  • Water
  • Camera
  • Swimsuit
  • Fishing pole (optional)
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Reviews

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Even in winter this hike is easy - the hardest part is braving the cold water of the Bow river! The campsite only has 5 spots so make sure to book before you leave (especially during the summer weekends). Bring your own dry firewood if conditions are snowy/wet. Canoes are still in relatively good condition too.

4 months ago
4 months ago

This is a great hike to avoid the crowds and a best kept secret. Bring some water shoes or sandals to cross the river. Do not attempt it in bare feet. The current can be strong so be sure to keep your valuables in your pack. It's an easy 5K, and once you reach the lake you will be glad you did the trip. Bring a lunch and enjoy. There are 3 canoes donated by the park for you to enjoy!

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

Michael Johnston

Instagram: @michaeljamie Photographer from Springville, UT. Lover of kayaking, hiking, backpacking, camping, and mountain biking.

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