Emerald Lake Loop Trail – Best Canadian Rockies Day Hikes

#22 – Canadian Rockies Day Hikes: Emerald Lake Loop Trail

Emerald Lake Loop Trail
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  • Location: Yoho National Park
  • Trailhead: Emerald Lake
  • Type: Loop
  • Rating: Easy
  • Total Distance: 3.25-miles
  • Trailhead Elevation: 4,275′
  • Total Elevation Gain: 164′
  • Recommended Time: 1-2 hours
  • Recommended Season: May to October

Emerald Lake Loop Trail

Emerald Lake
A look at Emerald Lake from the Emerald Lodge area of Yoho National Park.

Emerald Lake is a beautiful Lake that is truly well named with its vibrant emerald color. Located deep in the Canadian Rockies at Yoho National Park, this lake has a lot of competition vying for your hiking attention. The rich emerald-colored waters and the surrounding mountainous landscape, along with the easy access and even easier hiking trail all the way around the lake, make the Emerald Lake Loop Trail one of the best day hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

Easy Access = Crowded

Kayaking Emerald Lake
Kayaking Emerald Lake is almost as popular as hiking.

A well-paved road brings visitors to a parking lot adjacent to the lake’s south shore, but like many easily accessed parts of the Canadian Rockies, Emerald Lake gets very crowded. At mid-day, cars line the road for more than a mile from the actual small parking lot. The small parking lot can be painfully tedious to get in and out of due to the seemingly endless flow of crawling traffic.

Early Birds Catch the View

Emerald Lodge Fire Pit
The Emerald Lodge might have the most scenic fire pit in the Canadian Rockies.

The solution to the crowded nature is the same as so many other easily accessed areas in the Canadian Rockies—arrive very early. To have any chance of enjoying serenity at this beautiful spot you should arrive for sunrise. Perhaps an even better option is to stay the night at Emerald Lodge. Either way, a walk through the small village, around the beautiful grounds and to the far side of the lake via the Emerald Lake Loop Trail is a great way to spend a morning. The further away one explores from the parking lot the faster the dense crowds will fall away.

Other Emerald Lake Options

This is also a great lake for kayaking, but bring your own if you have one as the rental cost is a bit steep. If you are looking for a longer hike there is an 8-mile trail that leads to Takakkaw Falls via Yoho Lake. While both destinations are doable as a day hike, we would recommend having a ride arranged to get back from the Takakkaw area if you attempt the full distance rather then having to hike back over the mountain.

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