Peyto Lake / Bow Summit Lookout | Banff National Park
6km return, 230m Elevation gain
Ages: A short accessible hike for a variety of abilities
Getting to the trail can be a little tricky. I had to ask someone at one of the area maps if we were in the right place, and I took pictures of his guidebook which helped us find the trail.Peyto Lake viewpoint is a popular stop for tour buses on the Icefields Parkway. The regular day use parking lot is a few hundred metres short of where the busses stop, meaning a bit of a hike for anyone wanting to get to the lookout point.
From there, head out on a paved trail that leads to an interpretive loop. You’ll come to a 3-way junction. Take the middle path, until you come to a fire road. Head up here to get to the Peyto Lake Rock Pile, and to head further on to the Bow Summit Lookout.
The fire road is an easy trail surrounded by beautiful flowers.
After a kilometre or so, you will come to a flattened out rocky area. Again you will see three paths. The road to the right will lead you all the way to the Bow Summit Lookout, the paths to the left and right cut off the switch backs and head straight up to the Peyto Lake rock pile. Note: the fire road will NOT take you to this lookout, you need to heads straight up the path to get to this lookout.
After a quick scramble, you will find yourself in a rock pile overlooking Peyto Lake. It is here you can make your own Inukshuk to stand with the dozens of others. It is here you can celebrate the emerald waters of the Rockies, the deep valleys, and the majestic mountains. It’s a truly spectacular place.
If continue away from Peyto Lake, to the south of the rock pile, you’ll come to a gorgeous alpine meadow with summer flowers blooming everywhere. This is not an official trail and the path quickly fades away until you’re scampering through the meadow. A few hundred metres down, you’ll rejoin the fire road.
From here you can head the final kilometre or so to the Bow Summit Lookout. We chose to turn around and head back down, the view of Peyto Lake is what we came for and my young charge was fading.
Peyto Lake just fine from the tourist bus congested viewpoint, but taking the extra time to climb to the rock pile and soak in the splendor of the rock pile is inspiring.