Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park - Hiking Alberta


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.


Cascade Mountain looming over the end of the north shore of Lake Minnewanka


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.


Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada


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.


Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada


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, CanadaBecause Lake Minnewanka twists and turns, the return hike, by the same trail, seems entirely different.


Lake Minnewanka - Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada


Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned hiker, it is worth your time to enjoy wilderness adventure at Lake Minnewanka.








Sorry, I have not been able to pin down your route. A lot has changed since the mid-seventies. Current GemTrek maps do not provide an obvious solution. On the other hand there are ancient trails in this area established by indigenous people centuries ago. Many trails are not documented or maintained even though they are still used. Wish I could be of more assistance. Happy to hear you have retained good memories. Thank you for your kind words.

Great site. Pictures are superb. Back in the mid-seventies, three of us, all in our early twenties, hiked around Minnewanka, to the Ghost Lakes and through Devils Gap. We only camped one day, about 10 miles from the trail head at the west end. It was early spring and on the second day, by the time we reached the Gap it was late and we started looking for a campsite. Gary, our trusted(!) leader, kept urging us on, then it was almost dark and we all decided to keep on hiking to the second vehicle which we had left on the TransCanada, just a little West of Canmore (if memory serves). During that crazy night of hiking with flashlights we made at least twenty-five creek crossings (several up to our waists) before finally stumbling out to the car, totally exhausted (but elated!), around 3 a.m. For two of us, it was our first backpacking experience, and as foolhardy as our first experience was, we all became avid backpackers; spending the next many years working and living in Banff. I have a question: I live in the States now and don't have ready access to topo maps and even by studying the new Explore Google map I am unable to find the trail we followed. It ran along a creek/river bed for the first several miles and was obviously meant for post spring run-off travel. Any info would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for a fantastic resource!

Thank you for your comment and the link to Banff, Alberta. You have developed an excellent resource for exploring all aspects of resources in Canada's first National Park, established in 1885. All of us who live nearby are blessed to have Banff National Park at our doorstep. Every year, millions of people from around the world visit this huge and incredible natural resource. Your site is an invaluable reference for information and I will look for ways to make my readers more aware of the well organized collection of information available from your pages.

Lots of interesting info on your blog! For folks heading to Lake Minnewanka for the first time, this might be useful for travel planning -

spent Friday night camping here Absolutely beautiful