Banff National Park
Time: 1 hour (or less)
Distance: 3 km (return from second lookout)
Elevation Gain: 45 m
How To Get There: Park at the Peyto Lake parking lot located on the west side of the Icefields Parkway approximately 42 kilometers north of Lake Louise.
After we finished our hike at Bow Glacier Falls, my mom and I decided to drive the extra ten minutes north so that we could check out the famous Peyto Lake. Even though it was a Friday, there were still tons of people there and we ended up having to park at the side of the road. The sky was still blue as we began the Peyto Lake “trail”, which sits on the north side of the parking lot.
I say “trail” in quotations because the actual trail was made of asphalt. The hike leads you uphill for about 0.6 kilometers (where your biggest struggle is fighting against the onslaught of tourists making their way down the hill), passing several different signs that list different facts about the area and its ecology.
We finally reached what is considered the first lookout. This is where most of the tourists stop and the place was incredibly crowded.
The lookout provides a really great shot of the lake (most people just go to the lookout rather than the actual lake itself) but it’s almost ruined by the masses of people holding up their cameras to take a picture. We managed to take one or two pictures at the lookout platform but then decided to continue counter clockwise around the trail loop. Once we reached the top of the loop we moved off the asphalt trail to our right and began making our way through the trees, walking along a dirt path that was covered in pine needles.
It only took us about a minute of walking until the trees began to open up to a second amazing view of Peyto Lake. And this time, there were only about five other people. The main lookout here isn’t official but it’s obvious that many people have stood in the same spot before us. Giant boulders sit on the edge of a cliff which makes for a perfect spot to pose for pictures.
This is where we set up for lunch, enjoying a short snooze (or at least mom did) and just enjoying the amazing turquoise colour of the lake.
It ended up being a beautiful day to take in the gorgeous view of the valley below. We were even accompanied by a very curious and brave chipmunk that clearly had been fed by humans in the past.
After our break, we finished the loop, walking past the old fire road that leads up to Bow Summit Lookout (which most likely offers even more gorgeous views of Peyto Lake).
Then we began our short descent back to the parking lot. It couldn't have been a more peaceful day. While it’s not really much of a hike (more of a walk), the lake itself is absolutely stunning and it’s worth fighting through all of the tourists if you walk up to the second lookout. Definitely recommended!