Boom Lake Hike in Banff National Park

A 600 m cliff rising above the south shore of Boom Lake

Boom Lake is a turquoise beauty, sitting beneath 600-metre cliffs in Banff National Park. It’s accessible on foot from as early as June until late October, though you may have to tromp through some snow at that time. 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.

Boom Lake is also a fabulous cross-country skiing destination come the winter, through beware of avalanche chutes if you venture onto some sections of the lake.

If you’re driving towards Radium Hot Springs on Highway 93 or you’re staying at nearby Storm Mountain Lodge, then the Boom Lake hike is an especially good choice, particularly on a hot, sunny day as the Boom Lake trail is mostly in the shade.

The Boom Lake hike is dog-friendly
The Boom Lake hike is dog-friendly and there’s plenty of water along the trail

This post includes some affiliate links. If you make a qualifying purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support.

Boom Lake hike details

Total distance: 10.2 km (or 6.3 miles) return

Elevation gain: 175 m or 574 feet

Rating: Easy and dog-friendly with lots of water available

Time needed: 3 – 4 hours

Map: Gem Trek – Banff and Mt. Assiniboine

Best time to go: June to October

Signage and useful info at the Boom Lake trailhead
Signage and useful info at the Boom Lake trailhead

Boom Lake hike description

There are no navigation challenges on the hike to Boom Lake. It’s a straightforward as they get.

Most of the hike 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 Boom Lake hike. Continue on the trail as it veers left and starts to head up gradually through the forest.

When I did the Boom Lake 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.

Read: The Taylor Lake Hike in Banff National Park 

When you reach a boardwalk, you’re getting very close to Boom Lake. From there the trail heads left and starts downhill on rougher terrain. The Boom Lake 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.

It's a wide trail to Boom Lake
It’s a wide trail to Boom Lake
A colourful understory in early September
A colourful understory in early September
Grouse on the Boom Lake hike
A grouse was the only wildlife I saw but I’d still recommend hiking with a can of bear spray
A couple of the giant trees you'll see on the hike
A couple of the giant trees you’ll see on the Boom Lake hike
The overgrown trail to O'Brien and Taylor Lakes starts here
The overgrown trail to O’Brien and Taylor Lakes starts here
The boardwalk is in great shape
The boardwalk is in great shape as you’ll see on the hike to Boom Lake
At the end of the trail you can see the boulders stacked up
At the end of the Boom Lake trail you can see the boulders stacked up
Looking east down Boom Lake
Looking east down Boom Lake
Rosie is happy to cool off even on a chilly fall day
Rosie is happy to cool off even on a chilly fall day

Map showing the Boom Lake hike

Location map of the Boom Lake trail
Location map of the Boom Lake trail

How to get to the 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. The Boom Lake hike takes off from the picnic area.

Even our dog had a hard time negotiating the boulders beside Boom Lake
Even our dog had a hard time negotiating the boulders beside Boom Lake

Boom Lake location map 

                                                           

Trail conditions for Boom Lake

Check trail reports in Banff National Park before you go. They are regularly updated.

Fall is a pretty time to do the Boom Lake hike
Fall is a pretty time to do the Boom Lake hike

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.

The water is cold and the lake is hard to access
The water is cold and the lake is hard to access

Always carry the 10 hiking essentials

Don’t forget the bug spray in summer.

If you’re prone to blisters, I highly recommend Compeed. It speeds up their healing too.

On an easy Boom Lake hike, I’d still recommend an inflatable seat cushion for a more comfortable stop at the lake and a few protein or energy bars

Where to stay near Boom Lake

The closest place to stay is Storm Mountain Lodge. But you’re also close to Castle Junction. There you could stay in the Castle Mountain Chalets or Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows

Baker Creek Mountain Resort is west of Castle Junction in a lovely location beside Baker Creek. 

Baker Creek - one of the Charmin Inns of Alberta
Lots of red chairs and fire pits outside at Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Further reading on hikes in Banff National Park

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

The easy Boom Lake hike in Banff National Park is a good one if you only have half a day

 

My Cart Close (×)

Your cart is empty
Browse Shop