Best time to travel to Banff & Jasper National Parks

Hector Lake in Banff & Jasper National Parks

A turquoise-colored lake just two hours away from Calgary

Best time: July–September

Hector Lake
Hector Lake
Hector Lake view along the Banff Jasper highway
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This turquoise glacier lake offers fantastic views of the mountains. Hector Lake is a natural reservoir in western Alberta. It is surrounded by the Pulpit Peak, Mount Balfour, Crowfoot Mountain, and Bow Peak of the Canadian Rockies. The lake was named after a geologist James Hector. Mount Hector is towering over the lake on the opposite side of the Bow River. The lake covers the area of 5.23 sq km (2.02 sq mi).

Hector Lake Trail starts not far from the village of Lake Louise. It's a popular and short route of some 5 km (3 mi) that requires to cross the Bow River. The water in the river is freezing and can be high in spring and early summer. Therefore it's recommended to hike this trail from July through September. For the weather and trail updates, contact the Lake Louise visitor center. Visitors have to purchase a $9.80 Parks Canada pass to park in Banff National Park.

Most tourists drive past the trailhead that is located off the Icefields Parkway, so it’s usually not busy. You'll find the trailhead approximately 18 km (11 mi) north of the junction of the parkway and the Trans Canada Hwy close to the village of Lake Louise.

Practical info

When is a good time to hike the Hector Lake Trail?

Hiking the Hector Lake Trail is best done in stable weather conditions during the months between July and September. This is when the water level is low, making it easier to traverse. While the colder months look enticing for hiking, the water level is typically quite high, making it more difficult to cross the river. Show more

Where is the starting point for the Hector Lake Trail?

The Hector Lake Trailhead is positioned in Banff National Park near Lake Louise Village, just about 18 kilometers (11 miles) north of where the Icefields Parkway and the Trans Canada Highway converge. Show more

What can a visitor see from Hector Lake?

Visitors at Hector Lake can expect stunning views of the Canadian Rockies. As they stand on the shores, they will be able to see prominent peaks such as Mount Balfour, Crowfoot Mountain, Bow Peak, and Pulpit Peak. The other side of the Bow River presents Mount Hector, which looms unmissably over the lake. Show more

Are there any hike restrictions around the lake?

There are no hiking restrictions specific to Hector Lake, although visitors must have a $9.80 Parks Canada pass to park around Banff National Park. Hiking in spring and early summer may also be challenging due to high Bow River water levels. Show more

What safety measures should visitors take while hiking on the trail?

Warm clothing and sturdy hiking boots are advisable for visitors embarking on the Hector Lake Trail. It can be quite challenging to cross the Bow River, especially during spring when its levels are higher. Before hiking, visitors should check weather forecasts and trail updates at the Lake Louise visitor center and bring enough food and water to avoid getting dehydrated or hungry during their trip. Show more

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Last updated: by Dari Vasiljeva