Boom Lake is a turquoise beauty, sitting beneath 600-metre cliffs in Banff National Park. It’s accessible from as early as June until late October, though you may have to tromp through some snow at that time. And it’s a fabulous cross-country skiing destination come the winter, through beware of avalanche chutes if you venture onto some sections of the lake.
The Boom Lake hike is easy but not as interesting as many in the park. The wide trail parallels Boom Creek, though you only see the creek at the start of the hike. Don’t count on any views until you reach the exceptionally clear lake but some of the forest walking is very pleasant, especially in fall when there’s some colour in the understory. And in places there are some dandy big alpine firs and Englemann spruce. There’s also a boardwalk towards the end of the hike.
If you’re driving towards Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93 or you’re staying at nearby Storm Mountain Lodge, then it’s an especially good choice, particularly on a hot, sunny day as the trail is mostly in the shade.
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Boom Lake hike details
Total distance: 10.2 km return
Elevation gain: 175 m or 574 feet
Rating: Easy and dog-friendly with lots of water available
Time needed: 3 – 4 hours
Boom Lake route description
There are no navigation challenges on the hike to Boom Lake. It’s a straightforward as they get.
Most of the hike on the way to Boom Lake will be in the shade – so it’s an ideal choice on a hot day. Early in the season or after a big rainfall you can also count on a lot of mud.
Start at the parking lot, passing a few picnic spots before you cross a wooden bridge over Boom Creek. If you have dogs, they’ll probably want a swim in here before or after the hike. Continue on the trail as it veers left and starts to head up gradually through the forest. When I did the hike in early September, the understory was already awash in colour.
Well into the hike you’ll pass a junction and a sign saying Taylor and O’Brien Lake. I have not heard anything good about this route (overgrown and hard to follow) so I wouldn’t recommend it. However, I would suggest doing the Taylor Lake hike starting from the Trans-Canada Highway between Banff and Lake Louise, especially in the fall when larches are at their peak.
When you reach a boardwalk, you’re getting very close to the lake. From there the trail heads left and starts downhill on rougher terrain. The trail ends near the eastern end of Boom Lake beside a rockslide.
The rockslide is nothing but big boulders so it’s hard to navigate. You’ll find most people don’t go very far in either direction from where the trail ends to enjoy a picnic with a view.
Fun fact: Boom Lake got its name because of a natural log boom that formed on a shallow rock shelf at the lake’s outlet.
Rosie is happy to cool off even on a chilly fall day
Boom Lake map
How to get to the Boom Lake trailhead
Take Highway 93 south from the Trans-Canada Highway at the Castle Junction intersection. Follow it for 7.2 km to reach the Boom Lake Picnic Area on the left (north) side of the highway.
Check trail reports in Banff National Park before you go. They are regularly updated.
Swimming at Boom Lake
If you’re someone who doesn’t mind glacially cold water – and its a hot day, go big. Jump in, catch your breath, and then get out. Just be mindful of the fact that its a rocky shoreline and hard to get in and out easily.
What to take on the Boom Lake hike
Always carry the 10 hiking essentials.
Where to stay nearby
Baker Creek Mountain Resort is west of Castle Junction in a lovely location beside Baker Creek.
Further reading on hikes in Banff National Park
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