• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    11 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    2460 Feet

Easy Parking
Forest
Lake
Scenic

Head out on this lengthy snowshoe to Tower and Rockbound Lakes to get up close and personal to Castle Mountain and Eisenhower Peak.

This is an amazing trail, but not for the feint of heart!

The trailhead is located on the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A) in Banff National Park, AB at the Castle Mountain sign. The trailhead is marked by an information sign in the north of the parking lot and the trail initially heads north - not to be confused with cross-country ski trails that also utilize parts of this trail. Once past the fork to Silverton Falls, it's only one path through the forest for the rest of the trip.

And what a forest it is! The path is fairly well defined although it can be difficult to follow when there is fresh snow - just look closely for footprints. This hike is full of local flora and fauna - chickadees and sparrows flutter between spruce trees adorned with mossy green, brown, and black old man's beard and lime-green wolf lichen. The forest is totally captivating but peaks of Castle Mountain/Eisenhower Peak - one Banff's most impressive mountains - will get you excited for the full reveal. Once it is, it can be tough to keep your eyes on the trail! This is a pretty special place, and making it up the headwall to Rockbound Lake just adds to the wonder.

The trail to Rockbound, however, is a slog. The first 7.5 km took me 2.5 hours, whereas the last kilometre to Rockbound took 45 minutes. It's only about a 100 m elevation gain, but it gains it quick even with the help of the switchbacks. And since it's relatively untouched, that powder becomes very deep to the point where my snowshoes were acting more like skis. Rockbound Lake is literally that: a lake surrounded by rock. When the lake isn't covered in snow, it is a deep blue.

All in all, the snowshoe to Rockbound Lake has its difficulties, but as always in the Rockies, "the rapture you'll experience trivializes the effort you'll expend."

Pack List

  • Hiking boots
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Winter Layers
  • Water and snacks
  • Camera
  • Bear spray
  • A buddy - you never know what can happen on an isolated trail like this, plus it's always better to enjoy it with someone!
  • Avalanche report - Little to no avalanche danger on this hike, but always better to be safe than sorry
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

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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Reviews

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The altitude gains and tough climb upwards unfortunately do not reward you with the best views. It took 3 hours to get to the first lake which was certainly beautiful, but not comparable to hikes around Lake Moraine or Lake Louise. Rockbound Lake was another 20-30 minute hike after the initial Lake, up tough switchbacks and was generally unrewarding with a desolate mountain alpine lake. If you have 3+ days in Banff, Rockbound could be a good option, but there are better "bang for your buck" hikes that have better views, which don't take 5 1/2-6 hrs.

8 months ago
8 months ago

James Hueser Explorer

Some call me the Jerry Macguire of the outdoors. The places special to me should be special to everyone. It is not my intention to hoard the best views around me. It's my responsibility to invite everyone to join, and give them every opportunity to do so.

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