Lake Minnewanka is a large, curving, body of water resting in the shadow of Cascade Mountain.
The lake is surrounded by large, impressive mountains. Minnewanka, in the Stoney Indian language, means 'Water of the Spirits'. The scenic lake is aptly named and artifacts have been discovered which span more than 10,000 years of Native habitation.
Lake Minnewanka is a summer recreational paradise and the only lake in Banff National Park which allows limited use of power boats. Fishing is hugely popular.
Boats of all kinds are available for rent. There is a tour boat that ferries passengers the entire 21 KM (13 miles) length of the lake. The unfolding scenery along the curved lake never lets up. The hike is an awesome experience that takes the breath away when every time the trail rounds a bend, it is like a whole new hike.
Excellent paved road (closed in winter) provides transportation from the TransCanada Highway at Banff to ample parking at the west end of Lake Minnewanka. The north shore trail is relatively flat and well maintained. There are a variety of trail options along the north shore of Lake Minnewanka which allow hiking a short distance, like a half day into Stewart Canyon, or further along Lake Minnewanka Trail for long, even multiple day hikes.
A popular backpacking adventure is the 29.5 KM (18½ miles one way) trek to Devil's Gap past the far end of the lake. There are four backcountry campgrounds and several optional side routes along the entire distance for a multiple day excursion.
Today, the hike begins early, at sunrise, to enjoy first light streaking orange, then yellow, across the shoreline as the sun rises over the mountains in cool, crisp air that will soon warm.
The plan is to hike 8 KM (5 miles one way) to the Aylmer Pass Junction for lunch and a peaceful rest on a gorgeous, calm, sunny day. There are a labyrinth of alternatives in the area which link east into the Ghost River Wilderness Area with access to the Ghost Lakes and Hoodoo Hall.
The day hiking opportunities throughout the Lake Minnewanka area are numerous and incredibly beautiful. Banff National Park is world-class, hiking nirvana within a short, one hour drive east in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Because Lake Minnewanka twists and turns, the return hike, by the same trail, seems entirely different.
Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, it is worth your time to enjoy wilderness adventure at Lake Minnewanka.