Boom Lake Banff Hiking Trail to Perfect Picnic Lakeside

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Boom Lake in Banff National Park is the perfect outing for a lakeside picnic and amazing views of the Rocky Mountains. Summertime in the Canadian Rockies makes me happy. This year I’ve already visited Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, and Waterton National Park. If always feels great to get outdoors and do some hiking in the mountains – that’s the big thing I miss when I’m away from Calgary.

Boom Lake Trail Banff National Park

Only recently hearing about Boom Lake – when I saw photos of the lake and mountain views I knew I had to do this hike. The trail is accessed from Hwy 93 but not the Icefields Parkway (a stunning scenic drive) which is north of Lake Louise. Boom Lake Trail is located in between the town of Banff and the village of Lake Louise.

While I like to travel solo I’m not always as keen on hiking solo but I’m getting more practice at hiking alone. The only way to get better at it is to gain more experience.

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Hike Boom Lake Trail Banff National Park

I’m particular about which hikes I’ll do on my own – so far I’m sticking with the easy to moderate hikes.

Boom Lake is definitely a trail that I recommend to both solo hikers and families looking for a great trail for kids and adults to enjoy.

Boom Lake Banff National Park Canada

Boom Lake view in Banff National Park – perfect day trip from Calgary

Getting to Boom Lake Banff

Boom Lake is in Banff National Park – it’s one of the less crowded hikes around Lake Louise. In fact, I wanted to hike Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise but the parking lot was full. And the posted wait time for a shuttle bus at the Lake Louise overflow parking was 120 minutes!

Yikes – 2 hour wait for a shuttle bus?! Not my idea of fun, so I went to Boom Lake trail instead – it’s a short drive from Lake Louise.

The parking lot at Boom Lake is not huge like Lake Louise but it’s way less busy. There were still several parking spots available when I arrived around 11 am on a weekday.

Boom Lake hike Banff National Park

The emerald color of Boom Lake is impressive – one of the prettiest lakes in Banff

From Banff

  • Drive west on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 for 30 km (19 miles)
  • Take the exit for Hwy AB-93 South towards Radium Hot Springs and drive 7 km (4 miles)
  • Watch for the Boom Lake sign and turn right into the parking area
  • Total driving time is about 30 minutes

From Lake Louise

  • Drive east on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 for 25 km (16 miles)
  • Take exit 50 to Hwy AB-93 South towards Radium Hot Springs and drive 7 km (4 miles)
  • Watch for the Boom Lake sign and turn right into the parking area
  • Total driving time is about 25 minutes

From Calgary

  • Drive west on the Trans-Canada Hwy 1 for 145 km (90 miles)
  • Take the exit for Hwy AB-93 South towards Radium Hot Springs and drive 7 km (4 miles)
  • Watch for the Boom Lake sign and turn right into the parking area
  • Total driving time is about 1 hour 45 minutes
Map and trail sign at Boom Lake trailhead Banff National Park

Boom Lake trailhead at Banff National Park on Hwy 93

Boom Lake Hike Info

  • Distance: 10.2 km (6.4 miles)
  • Type of Hike: Out and back
  • Elevation Gain: 175 m (575 ft)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: Allow 3 to 4 hours
  • Dogs allowed on Boom Lake trail? Yes, but dogs must be on leash at all times.

The hiking trail is shaded pretty much all the way to the lake. You’ll walk through the forest and enjoy some views of the mountains on the way to the lake.

In the winter you can ski Boom Lake Trail – during the hike I saw a sign marking the end of the ski trail area. It’s a good idea to always check trail conditions with Parks Canada before you go hiking.

Remember to buy your Parks Canada pass – you can purchase the pass in advance of your visit or wait in line at the entrance to buy it – check here for prices and buy your pass now

Boom Lake trail sign and hiking distances

Boom Lake Trail is 5.1 km each way. You can also hike O’Brien Lake or Taylor Lake if feeling energetic

There are very few twists and turns on the Boom Lake Trail so it’s not one of those trails where you lose your sense of direction.

You are likely to see a lot of mushrooms during this hike. I saw lots of different kinds of mushrooms.

Mushrooms growing from a downed tree at Boom Lake trail

Mushrooms growing from a downed tree at Boom Lake trail

There are several creek crossing at Boom Lake trail so you want to have footwear that you don’t mind getting wet – also with good grip to give you some traction.

I like to buy the best gear I can afford so that it will last long and serve it’s purpose – my Ahnu hiking shoes are holding up well. I like that I can walk through puddles and not worry about getting my feet soaked.

Boom Lake forest hike Banff Canada

Hike Boom Lake trail through the forest to get to the stunning lake at the summit

Near the end of the hike there is a boardwalk for a short section of the trail. The forest is thick with trees and a variety of mosses and lichens.

The abundance of rain in Banff National Park this year is giving us luscious forests.

Boardwalk Boom Lake trail Banff AB

The boardwalk at Boom Lake Trail – getting closer to the lake

When you get to Boom Lake you will find amazing views of the Rocky Mountains and the color of the lake is an extraordinary emerald hue.

Most people bring a picnic lunch and find a place on the large rocks and boulders by the lake.

Mountains surround Boom Lake in Banff National Park Alberta

Spectacular views of the Rockies are your reward hiking to Boom Lake

There was still some snow in the mountains – makes an even better view in my opinion.

Emerald colored Boom Lake beautiful hike Rocky Mountains

Bright emerald green color of Boom Lake is a beautiful picnic spot

Boom Lake Banff National Park

A lake surrounded by mountains views – absolutely stunning

What to Bring Hiking to Boom Lake

Wear hiking shoes or sneakers with good grip on the sole. The trail is often muddy and there are large rocks to climb around to find your perfect picnic spot by the lake.

Bring your refillable water bottle – I always bring two stainless steel water bottles. One is small so I have a reserve 40 oz Klean Kanteen water bottle in my backpack.

Bug spray – or the mosquitoes may enjoy a picnic lunch at your expense. I have tried the non-DEET stuff and it didn’t work at all. So I went back to using the DEET insect repellent. Remember that using DEET insect spray also protects against ticks!

Sunscreen – especially on sunny days but also for overcast days too – protect your skin from UV rays.

Sunhat or baseball cap is always a good idea when hiking – protection from the sun, rain, and ticks.

Pack hiking snacks to eat at the lake or along the trail. I like to bring pumpkin seeds as my snack – great nutrition and I buy spicy pumpkin seeds so they are extra yummy. I also bring beef jerky, crackers, fruit, and cookies. But you may want to pack a gourmet picnic lunch.

Bring a small backpack to carry your picnic lunch and other supplies for the hike. It’s best to buy a waterproof backpack or bring a large plastic bag to cover the backpack if it starts raining during your hike.

Remember it’s always a good idea to pack the 10 Essentials on every hike. You don’t want to get caught off guard – lacking the basic supplies like waterproof matches or a compass when you really need it!

Bear spray is another essential when you are hiking in bear country. I carry mine clipped to my backpack waist strap so that I can access it easily. Remember that you cannot bring bear spray on an airplane. So far I’ve been okay bringing it in my car while crossing back and forth at the USA-Canada border.

Tip: If you are staying at a hotel in Banff National Park ask at the front desk if they have any extra bear spray. A lot of travelers will leave theirs behind since they can’t take it on a plane.

Boom Lake hiking in Banff National Park

Hiking the Boom Lake trail in Banff National Park offers rewarding views

Summary of Boom Lake Hiking Trail

I’m so glad I hiked Boom Lake trail. Walking through the forest with the beautiful aroma and lovely sights along the way made for a wonderful day hike in Banff National Park.

While I can’t say I’ve ever seen a lake in Banff that I didn’t like – Boom Lake is extra beautiful because of the hike to get there and the stunning mountain views from the lakeside.

Boom Lake mountain seen from lakeside Banff NP

Lakeside views of the Canadian Rockies – still lots of snow in the mountains

Boom Lake is a good choice for solo hiking or an outing with the kids. The hike to the lake is a steady but pleasant incline. There are several creeks, a boardwalk, and views of the mountains along the way to the lake.

I’m sure I will enjoy hiking Boom Lake again.

Read about these other great hikes in Banff

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Hike Boom Lake Trail Banff National Park in Alberta Canada

Perfect Picnic Hike Banff National Park

Hiking Boom Lake Trail Banff

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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