Boom Lake and Marsh Loop Trail – Banff National Park, AB

My boyfriend Steve and I travelled to Alberta on October 18, 2017 for 10 days. It’s my first ever trip out west and I was so excited! The trip was mainly to celebrate his sister’s wedding –Steve was born and raised in Alberta before moving to Ontario for university and later, for work — but the after the wedding, we departed for Banff and Jasper for a week.  And there the adventure began!!!

Boom Lake Trail

Boom Lake was our first hike in Banff National Park. It’s a great trail to pick  for an easy, “chill” day and to catch up with friends. Just the perfect trail for us, post-wedding celebrations and a bit out of shape getting everything together before the vacation. The trail is 10.2 km long, in and out, with about 185m of total elevation gain. The majority of the uphill is at the beginning of the trail. So after the first little push, it’s casual chit-chat time 🙂

Boom Lake is located just west of Banff. Once you reach Castle Junction, you can take the Banff-Radium Highway (#93) west for about 7 km to get to the trail.  The start of the trail brings you beside Boom Creek, where there are several picnic tables you can use before or after your hike.

Below are just some photos from the drive up

We drove up to Boom Lake from Chestermere on October 23. On the drive out, we met with a beautiful sunrise and I was just enthralled by the first sight of the snow-covered rocky mountains. They brought some sort of majestic presence.  Their vastness brought in a hint of fear, but mostly excitement for the journey ahead. As the early sun continues to rise, their rays shone on the tip of the mountains making them look as if they were on fire. The view was magnificent.

We reached the parking lot of the trail just after 10 am and  began our hike shortly after. There were 10 of us and 2 dogs. The rest of the group were friends from Calgary. Before coming up here, I’ve been preparing my action plan for possible bear encounters. But with fresh snow on the ground, the temperature hitting about -10, a whole lot of people (most of them were nurses too), and two dogs, I’ve never felt so safe. Bears got nothing against us now, plus they’re probably deep asleep.

The trail welcomed us with a wide path, enough to fit about 3 people even with all the soft snow around the edges. The first 15 minutes had a bit of a steady uphill incline. But after that, it became relatively flat with minimal incline. The path narrowed in a bit further into the trail. Due to all the snow, our group formed a single line following the paved path. We encountered a couple of instances where several fallen trees blocked the trail. It was pretty fun hurdling on them.

As we continued on the hike, we came across several small streams running along and crossing the path. Occasionally, we would see Boom Mountain peeking behind the trees.

The half-way point brings you to Boom Lake and behind it, Boom Mountain. The scenery was gorgeous —snow covered Boom Mountain surrounded by lightly snow dusted pine trees. Unlike the bigger, more intimidating mountains we passed by earlier, Boom Mountain was small and humble. It provided a more relaxed feeling of peace and comfort. Boom Lake on the other hand, was also very still and peaceful. It was a beautiful scenery overall.

Our group stopped by the lake for some snacks, photos, and just to admire the scenery. Everyone took fireball liquor shots, which warmed us up very quickly.  We also saw a couple of gray jays and a clark’s nutcracker  near our rest spot, which are species of birds often found in Banff and Jasper.

We headed back not long after taking the same trail we came from. The way back felt faster, as the majority of it was downhill. It took us about 3.5 hours to complete the entire trail. Everyone felt good afterwards, and not too exhausted from the hike.

The rest of the group had lunch in Banff before heading back to Calgary. We were all supposed to go to the Banff Hot Springs, but unfortunately, it was closed during that time.  Steven and I parted ways with the rest of the group as we were determined to put another hike in our list and explore Banff even more before the sun goes down. We decided that the Marsh Loop was an easy trail to squeeze in that’s close to the main town.

Marsh Loop Trail 

We returned to Banff, stopped by for a quick lunch in the area, and then headed to the Cave and Basin National Historic site, which was right beside the start of the Marsh Loop trail. We really wanted to see the historic site exhibit beforehand, but it was closed on Mondays 😦

The Marsh Loop trail is 2.4 km long which follows along the Bow River and features Banff’s marshlands. You will also find great views of Mt. Norquay and the Bourgeau Range. It also connects to the Sundance  Canyon trail, if you feel like going for a longer hike. See a copy of the map below:

Marsh Loop Map

The trail is easy, with very minimal elevation gain. It’s more of a casual stroll in Banff than a hike. The only thing to keep in mind is that the trail is close to a horseback riding tour where horse riders would often also often take the same trail. Hence, the dirt and gravel path would often be filled with horse manure. Just make sure you still wear your hiking shoes!

Here are some photos of part of the trail. We ended up turning back midway to try to meet up with the rest of our group before they return to Calgary.  But nonetheless, we were still happy with the views!

Next post :  Lake Louise – Lake Agnes – Plain of Six Glaciers Trail

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