Boom Lake – 10.2 km (6.3 miles) return, easy, 3.5 hrs, elev. 185m (600 feet)
Access: Drive west from Calgary, and west from Banff on the Trans-Canada Hwy. Once at Castle Junction, go south 7.1 km (4.4 miles) on Highway #93 towards Kootenay National Park and Radium Hot Spring. You will soon see Boom Creek Picnic Area, and the spacious parking.
Boom Mountain is located at 2,757 metres (9,048 ft). This trail starts after you cross a bridge over Boom Creek, and then it leads through mature pine, fir and spruce forest.
The path is wide, well maintained, and gently ascending for the first kilometer and a half. After 1.5 km the trail starts its moderate descent, and soon after it rolls up again on the other hill. The last section of the trail goes downhill. You can find some muddy and wet areas, but if you hike during dry weather, you will most likely walk briskly all the way to the lake, as I did.
The lake is 2.7 km (1 2/3 mile) long, 30 m (100′) deep, and 366 m (1/4 mile) wide. Although the lake is glacier fed, the colour of water is different than that of Emerald or Sherbrooke lakes. It is darker and clearer with a deep greenish colour to it.
We started hiking in the late afternoon, and we only met 3 people hiking back. At the lake itself there was absolutely nobody but us.
Mount Quadra glacier can be seen at the very far end of the lake. It is not big in size, but it has its distinct turquoise colour. The two closer peaks are:
Chimney Peak (photo below).
During my research I found out that this area gets a lot of rain. This is why there is a special micro-climate here. You can definitely feel it in the air around Boom Lake’s area. It is noticeable only when you approach the opening at the end of the hike. There is a sudden cooling breeze coming towards you. It can be really refreshing especially on a hot summer day.
The lake is surrounded by limestone walls, and the whole shore is full of large rocks. Alongside the shore there are a number of deposited trees which fell due to winter avalanches. Some of log booms (the lake got its name from it) are fully, and some partially submerged in water.
The whole shore has plenty of large rocks placed directly in the sun. If you need some shade, the forest is just next to you.
Boom Lake with Glacier
From Boom Lake you can also access O’Brien Lake and Taylor Lake, but bear in mind these are longer hikes, plus the trails are not worn from use, and harder to follow.
Overall I enjoyed the view of the lake, but the entire hike through the forest was pretty dull, and there was nothing to see…but the trees. Keep that in mind if you count on some versatility and lookouts here and there while you are walking. This trail won’t deliver on that.
Wear proper, water-resistant boots, as it can get wet and muddy if you hike early in the season
Contact Parks Canada (403) 762-1550 to find out about the condition of the trail. They are located at 224 Banff Avenue. In the summer the office is open from 9AM to 7PM.
Trail is open year round
This is cougar area, and you might find cougar tracks when you pay attention. Keep the dogs on leash for their and your own safety