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Skoki Circuit

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Hidden Lake - Photo by Adam Greenberg

Hidden Lake - Photo by Adam Greenberg

Packers Pass - Photo by Adam Greenberg

Merlin Lake - Photo by Adam Greenberg

In you only have time for one hike in the Canadian Rockies, join us on this world class hike situated in a beautiful high alpine region of Banff National Park. Here one can access breath taking mountain ridges, alpine lakes, and five different valleys. Much of the hiking is above treeline which allows for sweeping views across wildflower filled meadows. The overall trail distances on this circuit are relatively short which leaves us plenty of time to enjoy side hikes to explore the region or to just relax around one of the beautiful lakes. The Skoki area is well known for its wildlife viewing opportunities.

The Skoki region near Lake Louise has been a favourite with mountain hikers to Banff National Park for well over a century and was the choice location for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge during their summer 2011 visit to Canada.

The trails are good, the campsites are located in spectacular settings and the mountain ambiance is as good as it gets!

Day 1: Lake Louise to Hidden Lake
At 8:30am we meet at the Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office in Canmore. We'll go over the trip with you and check to see that you are properly outfitted. Once packed we make the one hour drive west to Lake Louise.

The hike starts at the nearby Fish Creek parking just below the Lake Louise ski resort. After 4km of hiking the ski area road we hit the trail which we follow for a further 3.0 km up Corral Creek to the Halfway Hut.  This historic log cabin was once used as a shelter for travellers en-route to Skoki Lodge . Just beyond is our first campsite. Distance 7.3km. Elevation gain 510m.

Hidden Lake is set in an absolutely spectacular bowl beneath the rocky ramparts of Mount Richardson. Once we set up camp we'll explore the ridge above our camp to enjoy the spactacular peaks in the Lake Louise area.

Day 2: Hidden Lake to Merlin Meadows
Today is a classic day of backpacking in the Canadian Rockies as we continue up the valley to Boulder Pass.Once at the pass we'll see Ptarmigan Lake surrounded by expansive alpine meadows and rocky peaks. Continuing along the lake we come to the trail leading us over Deception Pass (2450m.) and down into the Skoki Valley. Dropping quickly into the forested valley we cross a couple of meadows before arriving at the historic Skoki Lodge. Built in the 1920s by the Canadian Pacific Railroad, it is especially popular with backcountry skiers in winter. It is only another kilometer of downhill hiking until we get to the Merlin Meadows and our camp for the night. Distance 8.5km. Elevation gain 275m, loss 375m.

From the campsite it is only 2.6km of hiking across open meadows then up a headwall to Merlin Lake, yet another beautiful alpine lake in an unbeatable mountain setting! We can either do this short hike in the afternoon or save it for the next morning.

Day 3: Merlin Meadows to Baker Lake
After breakfast, we'll pack up to circumnavigate Fossil Mountain.  Climbing slowly to Cotton Pass (2200m) and the head of Baker Creek, we spend most of our time out of the forest  and travel across expansive meadows surrounded by endless mountains.  From our camp at Baker Lake, we can explore the many ridges and peaks or relax by the shores of the tranquil Baker Lake.  Distance 8.1km. Elevation gain 225, loss 100m.

Day 4: Baker Lake to Lake Louise
Our final day, we will return to the trailhead via Ptarmigan Lake and Boulder Pass then down to Lake Louise.  We return to Canmore for hot showers and a customary final dinner celebration! Distance 13.1 km. Elevation gain 150m., loss 710m.

Meeting Place and Time

We will meet you at our Yamnuska Mountain Adventures office at 8.30am the morning of Day 1.

Our office is located at 200, 50 Lincoln Park, Canmore. See this map for location.

For your greater convenience we offer a pre-meeting shuttle service within Canmore. Please let us know in advance where you will be staying if needing this service. Pickup at your hotel will occur between 8.10am and 8.20am.

Please ensure that you have your hiking equipment with you.

Accommodation and Meals

On the trail you will be staying in modern, lightweight 2- and 3-person weather-proof tents.

Accommodation in Canmore is not included. For your convenience we can arrange hotel accommodations in Canmore for $160 per night. Double or single occupancy, the cost is the same. This accommodation can be booked with the trip online or by calling us. Subject to availability.

You can also make your own arrangements. Please contact us for recommendations based on your preferences.

Excess luggage can be left at your hotel or our office.

We supply all meals and trail snacks from lunch on Day 1 to lunch on Day 4. Groups generally go out for dinner in Canmore on the final evening (own cost).

Trail cuisine is prepared from lightweight wholesome ingredients including our Yamnuska custom-made dehydrated dinners. For guests with dietary restrictions, we are able to modify the program food pack to meet your individual needs.  As food pricing and preparation for these diets is more costly, we have implemented the following surcharges.  For vegan, gluten free, lactose free, soy free, nut free or any similar type of single restriction menu requests there will be a $15/day surcharge. For a diet requiring any 2 restrictions a $25/day surcharge will apply.  For any 3 restrictions a $30/day surcharge will apply.  Vegetarian meals will not be surcharged.   For more complex diets our kitchen staff will assess the restrictions to inform you if the diet can be accommodated and what surcharge would apply.  

Yamnuska Mountain Adventure hiking guides are certified through the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides.  Our professional hiking guides have extensive experience in the Canadian Rockies. Guides also have advanced wilderness first aid training and heritage interpretation accreditation.  Guides carry emergency equipment including a first aid kit, bear spray and radio.

There will be a maximum of eight guests and a minimum of four.

Getting to Canmore and Transportation

Canmore is situated 100km (65 miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west) and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore we will supply all transport needed for the trip.

Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. We can arrange your airport ground transportation at time of bookingfor an additional charge. Please advise us of your flight information.
 

Clothing and Equipment

We supply group camping and cooking equipment plus a full emergency and first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal equipment (backpack, sleeping bag etc) and clothing. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures does have rental equipment such as sleeping bags, mats, and backpacks. Rental Gear List. Contact us in advance to reserve.

What you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience, we especially urge you to read our notes on lightweight gear and clothing.

Please download the list below and make sure that you will have the items listed.

Clothing and Equipment List (pdf)

Contact us if you have any questions or concerns or check out our latest video on how to pack your backpack

Fishing

Hidden Lake and Baker Lake are popular fishing lakes. Participants are welcome to bring lightweight fishing gear. National Park fishing licenses are required (purchase in Canmore) and fishing regulations apply.

Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A 35% deposit CDN (including GST) is required at time of booking. Final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.

For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.

Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for waiver copy.

There are two basic types of insurance that most travelers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.

Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:

It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip.  Obtain extra coverage if necessary.  There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.

Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:

We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events.  For these eventualities the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment. 

For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group.  This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers.  We highly recommend purchasing this insurance.  For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website

Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.

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