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Canada's Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Think Lake Louise without the crowds and with better chances of seeing North American wildlife.
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.146 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview :  This trail is the Rockies at its best. It combines a circuit of a green glacial lake surrounded by mountains, with a diversion to... more »

Tips:  You need a pass for entry to any Canadian national park and these can be purchased from the visitor information centre at Field (on... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Car park for day visitors

If you are just visiting for the day, you can drive to the start of the trail on a sealed road. The views begin here - some people stepping off the tour buses don't venture any further. To get the full experience, just walk in the direction of the lake and you'll come to the circuit path which this trail does clockwise.

2. Boat house

If your legs are tired from a previous day's hike, this is an alternative way to appreciate the lake's scenery while giving your arms a workout. This place rents canoes and row boats as well as hiking gear.

3. Avalanche chute

One of the first of many dramatic natural features on this trail, and a reminder to check at the lodge or information centre for avalanche updates if you are here after heavy snowfalls or during the spring thaw.

At dusk, it's also a favoured feeding ground for a locally-resident bull moose. Once the day crowds have left, he's also regularly... More

4. Emerald Basin / Emerald Lake trails junction

The Emerald Basin trail leaves the lake circuit as you reach the edge of an alluvial fan carved by the stream fed from the melting glacier.

Keep an eye on your GPS or the trail markers. There is another trail that leaves the lake circuit close to here. If you pick the wrong one, you're embarking on a two-day hike around the eastern side of the... More

5. Emerald Basin Trail

The 3km to the basin is uphill all the way, but keep telling yourself that the first third is the steepest (you'll climb 125m in the initial km).

The trail meanders through a forest for fir, spruce & cedar, with yew & hemlock higher up as the path levels out. Along the way, avalanche chutes cut through the trees to give views of the... More

6. Emerald Basin - views of Emerald Glacier & some furry friends

They'll be no mistaking when you've arrived - the trail stops at a gigantic natural rocky amphitheatre.

It's a great spot to rest for a while and enjoy the views. Directly in front of you to the north are The President and The Vice President mountains and the Emerald Glacier. To the north-west is Mount Marple and Michael Peak completes the set... More

7. Wildflowers

In summer, wildflowers such as yellow lady's slippers, columbine and Indian paintbrush add some splashes of color to the trail.

8. Emerald Lake Circuit

The loop provides great photo opportunities from all sides. The striking aquamarine color of the water comes from light reflecting off fine rock particles deposited in the lake by millennia of glacial grinding.

The first third of the circuit (up to the basin trail turnoff) is wheelchair accessible, but there are some shallow streams to cross... More

The original parts of this historic lodge were built in the early 1900s when the Canada Pacific Railway opened up an adventurous era of travel. By keeping that charm, without any old fashioned stuffiness, it's been voted as the second best place to stay in Canada by the readers of one travel magazine. Don't come here expecting TVs, internet access... More

10. View across Peaceful Pond to Mount Burgess and Wapta Mountain

The bridge linking the lodge to the car park is the perfect spot for photographing the day's last golden rays as they hit mountains to the east. Better yet, do it from the bar/cafe/restaurant at the foot of the bridge on the banks of the Peaceful Pond.

11. Car park for lodge guests

If you are staying at the lodge, your car park is about 1km before the day visitors car park on the approach road. Pick up the phone in the hut to request a shuttle service, or walk up if you've no bags to carry.