Hike through incredible summer wildflowers, climb to a scenic lakeside destination, and view rapidly disappearing glaciers. This hike makes for a good day hike or introduction to backpacking.

Kootenay National Park is one of the lesser visited parks in a chain of spectacular parks in the Canadian Rockies between Banff and Jasper. Straddling the Trans-Canadian Highway, the park offers hot springs, awesome mountain views, and glaciers. As you enter the park, keep an eye out for the grizzly bears that frequent the road sides.

Floe Lake is considered the park's "classic" hike and is a great way to sample what the park has to offer. Begin your hike at the Floe Lake Trailhead right off the highway near the east side of the park. You'll start on a flat stretch, crossing two rivers (w/ bridges) before switchbacking up through burnt stands of timber. Once you break the treeline, the trail is relatively flat for most of the way, opening up to wide meadows where for several weeks in the Summer, you will be wading through fields of pink fireweed. The fireweed, which grows in these post-fire forests, follow the trail for miles. It looks like someone took a paintbrush to the sides of the mountains, creating wide swathes of color.

The final ascent to Floe Lake near the end of the trail is the most strenuous, consisting of a series of steep switchbacks out of the valley. But the climb is worth it. When you reach the top, the view opens up to Floe Lake, an isolated glacial lake butting up against granite cliff. If you were doing the trail as a day hike, this is a great place for lunch and, if you're brave, a quick swim in the lake. If you are backpacking and planning on staying the night, claim your campsite along the shore, which you will have reserved ahead of time. For backpackers, this is often the first stop in a longer, multi-day trip that continues over the nearby pass and deeper into the park, but for beginners, it can be done as a quick one night trip, allowing for greater leisure on the trail and at the lake.

Pack List

  • Hiking Boots
  • Hiking Poles
  • Water
  • Lunch
  • Camera
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RT Distance 13 Miles
Elevation Gain 2350 Feet
Activities Camping, Photography, Backpacking, Hiking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Spring, Summer, Autumn
Trail Type Out-and-Back
Features
Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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