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The Boom Lake hike in Banff National Park is proof that you don’t always have to embark on a long, steep, grueling hike to reach a pristine mountainous location.
This fairly easygoing, half day outing involves hiking on a well graded trail to Boom Lake, a scenic lake framed by glacier-capped peaks and the wide north face of Boom Mountain.
On route, Boom Lake Trail passes through a lush forest offering peek-a-boo mountain views, then terminates at the site of a rock slide at the eastern end of the lake.
Boom Lake Trail is usually snow free by early June, so is suitable for early season hiking, if you don’t mind some muddy spots.
Boom Lake Hike
Distance: 10.7 km round trip
Difficulty: Easy- moderate
Elevation Gain: 200 m
Surface: Packed dirt with areas of exposed rock
Trail Type: Out and back
Time: 2.5- 3 hours (not including time at the lake)
Trailhead: Boom Lake Day Use Area parking lot on Highway 93 South, about 7 km southwest of Castle Junction.
The Boom Lake hike starts from the parking lot at the day use area. The trailhead has a large sign with some basic information about the hike and a map of the area. There’s also a self-certification station with permits for watercraft in case you plan on carrying in an inflatable to float on the lake.
At the very start of the hike the trail passes by some picnic sites, then crosses an arched wooden bridge over Boom Creek. After the bridge, the trail veers left and begins a gradual ascent through the forest towards Boom Lake.
The trail is wide and framed by trees and shrubs, but still open enough to let in some sunlight. Further into the hike the forest gets more dense, creating patches of shade on the trail.
During the hike you’ll encounter several small streams running down the hillside and across the trail. Once in a while there’s a wooden boardwalk crossing the wet areas, but in most cases you’ll have to walk through some wet and muddy sections. The trail is more sloppy in spring and early summer.
Continuing through the forest on Boom Lake Trail, you’ll start to get glimpses of mountaintops on your left when there are gaps in the trees. This first peek at Boom Mountain is a teaser for what’s waiting at the lake.
A little further up the path you’ll come to a sign indicating a junction with the trail to O’Brien Lake and Taylor Lake. This trail is not the preferred way of getting to these two lakes and reviews generally do not recommend it. It’s not even on maps and hiking/GPS apps. Keep straight on the main path to continue hiking to Boom Lake.
As you proceed on Boom Lake Trail you’ll be mostly in the shade, with not much scenery to look at other than trees and small streams trickling across the path.
Eventually you’ll reach a point where the trail turns left and starts heading downhill. At the bottom of this small hill the path turns right.
The trail now narrows and becomes rougher with more exposed rock. On the right you’ll see evidence of an old rock slide, with trees and moss growing among the broken stone.
Next up you’ll come to a long boardwalk that weaves around the trees as it crosses soft ground. Once you reach this scenic section of Boom Lake Trail, you’ll know you’re almost at the lake.
After the boardwalk, the trail curves left and makes its final approach to Boom Lake. The path ends at a field of rock that tumbled down from the slope to the north. Traverse over the boulders to get closer to the lake.
Walk as far as it takes to find a flat-topped rock to sit on. You’ll want to get comfortable because the scenery is pretty enough to linger for an hour or more.
From the rockslide at the northeast end of Boom Lake, you’ll be able to enjoy views of several peaks towering above the sparkling blue water.
Straight across, on the south side of the lake, is the sprawling north face of Boom Mountain on the border of Alberta and British Columbia. At the far end of the lake is the snow-covered Quadra Mountain and Bident Mountain.
Most people don’t venture too far from the trail’s end at the rockslide, since it’s tricky getting across the piles of rock, so if you go a little further along the lakeshore you’ll find more quiet places to enjoy the view from.
After you’re rested and satisfied with your time at Boom Lake, head back on the same trail you came in on.
Review of the Boom Lake Hike
Boom Lake Trail is a great option if you’re looking for an easy hike in Banff National Park. You don’t have to gain a lot of elevation to reach a beautiful mountain lake, but still get to cover some distance for a few hours of exercise.
The Boom Lake hike is an especially good choice on a hot day because it’s not too long or strenuous, there’s shade along the route, and several water sources to stop for a cooling splash. You can even go swimming in Boom Lake, if you don’t mind cold water.
While this is a popular hike, the trail is not overrun with people so you get to enjoy some quiet time in the forest. Boom Lake doesn’t attract sizable crowds like nearby Lake Agnes does, so even though you will be sharing the lake with other hikers, there’s enough space to spread out along the shore if you don’t mind navigating over some rock.
One potential downside for some people is that there can be several muddy sections along the route. In the summer, the wet areas are normally just where the small streams cross the trail, so it only takes a few steps to cross the mud. Still, it’s best to wear shoes you don’t mind getting dirty.
Tips for Hiking Boom Lake Trail
Location: Boom Lake Trail is located on Highway 93 South (the Banff-Windermere Highway) at the Boom Lake Day Use Area. It’s approximately 7 km southwest of Castle Junction, 38 km west of the town of Banff, and 35 km from Lake Louise village.
Getting to the Boom Lake Trailhead: From Banff go west on Highway 1 (the Trans-Canada) or from Lake Louise go east on Highway 1. Take exit 50 to get on Highway 93 South. Follow Highway 93 S to the Boom Lake Day Use Area on the right hand side of the highway.
Best Time to Hike Boom Lake Trail: Boom Lake Trail is best hiked from early June to October. In winter, travel beyond the lake is not recommended because there’s an avalanche path at the end of the trail.
Facilities: There are outhouses at the parking lot and picnic tables at the trailhead.
Visitor Guidelines and Safety: This hike is in bear country so bring bear spray and know how to use it.
- There is no cell service in the area.
- Leave no trace by carrying out all your garbage.
- Bicycles are not allowed on Boom Lake Trail.
- If snowshoeing here in the winter, don’t cross the avalanche path beside the lake.
Gear and What to Bring: Wear hiking shoes/boots or supportive runners with a sturdy sole. Hiking poles aren’t necessary, but they do come in handy for balance when traversing the large rocks on the lakeshore.
- Dress in layers and bring rain gear because the weather can change quickly in the mountains
You may also enjoy these nearby trails:
Accommodations in Banff National Park
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