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Kayaking Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park is an active, yet relaxing way to enjoy views of two of Banff’s most prominent peaks- Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle.
As you glide across the clear, blue-green water of Two Jack Lake you’ll be surrounded by a forested shoreline, impressive rocky mountains, and a lakeshore campground that’s a perfect base for recreation on the water.
Kayaking Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park
The access point for Two Jack Lake is at the popular Two Jack Lake Day Use Area, located on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. Here there’s a flat, pebble beach that you can launch your boat from.
There are two small parking lots- an upper one that will require carrying your boat downhill to the water and a lower one on the shore. The lower parking loop is most convenient, since there are a few spots where you can back your vehicle right up to the beach. However, you have to arrive early in the morning to get a spot near the water.
Once you’ve launched your kayak or canoe, a nice route is to paddle counterclockwise around Two Jack Lake.
Shortly after leaving the beach, you’ll pass by a little peninsula with a group of trees and some picnic tables. Dominating the background is the sprawling Mount Rundle, of which you’ll get to enjoy plenty great views of while kayaking Two Jack Lake.
As you continue along the forested shoreline, you’ll be following a similar route as the Lakeside Trail. Soon you’ll round the corner and Cascade Mountain comes into view. This sheltered bay is the most scenic part of Two Jack Lake and is a wonderful place to float and admire Cascade Mountain.
Paddling along the edge of the bay, you’ll eventually reach the Two Jack Lakeside Campground. You’ll see some oTENTiks, Parks Canada’s glamping units, nestled in the trees by the lakeside. Looks like a wonderful spot to camp!
If you keep following the shoreline back to the main part of the lake, you’ll see the hiking trail and more lakeside campsites. This is an ideal campground for paddlers because you can access the lake right from several of the walk-in tent sites.
Once you leave the bay, continue to the south end of the lake. Here the lake narrows and a channel leads towards Mount Rundle in the distance.
The next section of this Two Jack Lake kayaking route proceeds down the channel. One bank is thickly forested and the opposite bank is more open with mountain views, since the trees are further back from the water.
About midway up the channel you’ll come to a low bridge crossing over the water. Most people turn around here, but you can go under the bridge if you want to paddle the full length of the channel.
Getting under the bridge is easiest on a paddleboard because you can just lie on your stomach, but in a kayak you have to get low in the boat then use the bottom of the bridge to pull yourself along. Stay close to the cement wall where there’s more clearance. A cool thing about going under the bridge is seeing the big groups of fish that hang out here.
The second half of the channel is more peaceful because less people paddle here. There are also some places where you can pull up onto shore if you want to take a break.
Nearing the end of the channel there’s a big red sign warning of danger ahead. Do not go past the sign because there’s a water intake ahead.
At this point you’ll have to turn around and paddle back towards Two Jack Lake. You’ll get to enjoy a nice view of Mount Astley on the return trip.
Once you’ve made it back to the main part of Two Jack Lake, paddle past the beach area to the opposite end of the lake. On maps it looks like you can paddle into Lake Minnewanka, but that’s not the case because there’s a dam at the north end of Two Jack Lake.
Since you can’t go past the dam, turn around here and paddle to the beach. Once again, there’s a wonderful view of Cascade Mountain to admire as your kayaking tour of Two Jack Lake comes to a close.
Review of Two Jack Lake Kayaking
Kayaking Two Jack Lake is an excellent way to spend a sunny, summer day. Even after paddling the entire length of the lake, you might not want to leave because it’s so satisfying to float in the sun in front of Cascade Mountain.
Of course the mountain views are gorgeous, but the water colour is just as pretty. It’s even clear enough that you can see the bottom of the lake, which is sandy in some places and rocky in others.
Since Two Jack Lake is narrow, on the smaller side, and has sheltered areas, it’s a great lake for beginner paddlers. Motorized boats also aren’t allowed, so that keeps the lake safer and quieter.
It’s nice not to have to travel far from the town of Banff to find a great kayaking spot, but this also means the lake is very popular. However, even though the lake gets busy with paddlers by the afternoon and the picnic area is filled with people, that somehow doesn’t take way from the experience. If anything, it can be nice to see so many smiling, like-minded individuals also enjoying the natural beauty of Two Jack Lake.
Tips for Kayaking Two Jack Lake
Location: Two Jack Lake is northeast of the town of Banff in Banff National Park. It’s about a 15 minute drive from downtown Banff to the Two Jack Lake Day Use Area.
Getting There: From downtown Banff, take Banff Ave towards Highway 1. Cross the highway and then turn right onto Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive. Follow that all the way to Two Jack Lake. The day use area is past the entrances to the Two Jack Lakeside Campground and Two Jack Main Campground.
Launching Area: You can launch your boat from the beach at the lower parking loop. If you have to park in the upper lot, expect to walk about 150- 250 m downhill to the beach. If you’ve got a heavy kayak, a kayak cart will come in handy here.
- Don’t count on being able to stop in the lower loop to unload and then go park because you will block the one-way traffic. On busy days there might be park staff present to help direct traffic.
Rentals: None on site.
Facilities: There are outhouses and picnic tables at the beach.
You may also enjoy these other things to do in Banff:
- Horseback Riding in Banff- What to Expect on a Guided Trail Ride
- Banff Via Ferrata- Assisted Climbing at Mt. Norquay
Here are some more places to go kayaking in Banff National Park:
Accommodations in Banff National Park
For your convenience, here is a list of HOTELS IN BANFF NATIONAL PARK. Please consider booking your Banff accommodations through the included link. It costs nothing extra and helps support this website. Thank you!
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