So this weekend we had a couple of injuries in our group, so we needed to find something super easy and super flat out in the mountains. We’ve been doing a lot of hikes around Banff and Lake Louise recently, so we figured we’d go a little further this time to Bow Lake.
Bow Lake is a great place to stop along the Icefields Parkway, as it’s the first major lake that you physically drive by on the way to Jasper. Suddenly the trees break and you’re met with the most incredible bright blue colours you’d think you could only see in the sky.
Although we’d thought we’d seen the back of winter, a recent snowstorm had blanketed the mountains with a dusting of snow and it really made for some incredible views.
Unfortunately, this time around the hotel at Bow Lake wasn’t quite open yet, but normally in the summer it’s a fantastic place to stop for a quick (expensive) coffee and a snack, or even a souvenir or two. There are even some seats outside that are perfect for a picnic lunch if you’re looking to take things easy.
When I first came to Canada, this was the first hike I ever did, and I remember it feeling like hard work. Fast forward four years, and I’m starting to realise that I was broken in very gently. The bow lake hike is such a great hike for beginners as it really doesn’t climb much at all.
The hike winds around the northern shore of the lake, and follows the river bed up into the valley. The walk is totally flat until you’re met with a staircase to take you up over a small ridge to the second half of the hike. Here there’s a great view point and a natural bridge made of a massive fallen boulder.
It’s here that you can fork left to some climbing routes, but we were happy with just plodding on to the waterfall.
Once we were past the steps, the hike rose with a gradual incline, but it was really nothing too strenuous and we were all able to manage it with ease. You can get as close to the waterfall as you like, but we were content with just stopping for lunch, taking a few pictures, and exploring the incredibly soft and waterlogged ground in front of it. It was like walking on quicksand and was really quite a cool experience.
For bang for your buck, this really is one of the easiest and most enjoyable hikes out there. It’s suitable for anyone that’s able to walk, although it is 9km round trip, and there are some absolutely stunning views to be had. This one is a hidden gem that’s definitely worth checking out if you want to break yourself in gently with a nice easy hike!