Kootenay National Park: Floe Lake (3 days / 21 km)

Floe Lake is a beautiful backcountry campground located in Kootenay National Park. The stunning mountains, clear blue alpine lake, and meadows full of wildflowers make it one of my personal favourites in all of Canada! This backpackers paradise is part of the Rockwall Trail and is accessible from the Floe Lake trailhead on Highway 93. We hiked in for a two-night stay at The Floe Lake Campground and it did not disappoint!

Trip Summary

Starting Point: Floe Lake Trailhead

Ending Point: Floe Lake Trailhead

Total Distance: 21.4 km

Elevation Gain: 959 m

Duration: 3 days / 2 nights

Difficulty: Intermediate

Location

The Floe Lake Trailhead is located in Kootenay National Park. If you are coming from Calgary or Banff you will most likely be turning off the 1A Highway at Castle Junction. From there, it’s about 25 minutes to the trailhead on Highway 93.

Traditional Territory: The Floe Lake trail is located on the traditional territory of the Niitsítpiis-stahkoii (Blackfoot / Niitsítapi) and Ktunaxa ɁamakɁis (source).

Maps & Resources

Guidebook: N/A

Map: All Trails – Floe Lake (Note: With the paid version of All Trails, you can download the topographical map for this route)

Campsite Reservation: Reservations can be made through Parks Canada. When you book, you are reserving a spot at Flow Lake Campground, however, the specific tent spots are first-come-first-serve among those with reservations.

Outfitters & Shuttles

A shuttle is not necessary as the trail starts and ends in the same parking lot. We did not use an outfitter for this trip – I am not aware of any that go to this area.

Trip Report

Day 1: Trailhead to Floe Lake (9.5 km)

We left Calgary after work on Friday at around 4 pm, putting us at the trailhead for about 6:15 pm. Luckily for us, the sun doesn’t set until 10 pm in July which gave us just enough time to get to the campground before dark. 

The first section of the trail is very beautiful and relatively flat. We crossed a stunning turquoise river and a winding stream before coming to the beginning of the valley. From there, we gained a few hundred metres of elevation in a short section of switchbacks before the trail levelled back out. The elevation gain was minimal for the next several kilometres as we made our way to the end of the valley. 

This hike is incredibly unique because of a massive wildfire that swept through the valley in 2003. What that meant for us was that we got a wide-open view of the area as we hiked through wildflowers, burnt trees, and new forest growth.

At the end of the valley, we looked up at a trickling waterfall fed by Floe Lake and the “rock wall” we were about to conquer. Over the last few kilometres, we gained about 800 meters of elevation with what felt like a never-ending set of steep switchbacks. Don’t worry though, your efforts will be more than rewarded when you get to the top!

We arrived at dusk and as we set up camp it began raining pretty hard. We had a quick snack, locked up our food, and were off to bed for the night!

Campsite: Floe Lake Campground has 18 tent sites and a warden’s cabin. We really enjoyed the layout because the sites are spread out in clusters along a path leading up from the lake.

HINT: If the first tent pad is available… grab it! It boasts the best view in the entire campground by far!

There are numerous little beach areas that are perfect for grabbing fresh water. There are also two sets of bear lockers and two separate picnic table areas so you should always be able to find a place to eat!  Two outhouses are located within the campsite, but be sure to bring your own toilet paper.

Day 2: Exploring the Area & Lazing in the Hammock!

The beauty of having this campground booked for two nights was that we had the entire second day to relax and explore! We woke up and ate breakfast near the water and then struck out to see what views of the lake we could find in the surrounding areas.

We hiked up about a kilometre on the Rockwall Trail which passes through the campground. From there, we took a detour to the left in search of a viewpoint over the serene alpine lake. We crossed a small stream and climbed a short but steep hill to find one of our favourite views of the entire summer!

After taking some photos and soaking in the scenery, we made our way back to camp for lunch. In total, we probably only hiked about 3 kilometres on day 2 with approximately 150 m of elevation. 

Once we were back at camp we enjoyed our backpacker meals (if you haven’t tried the Backpacker’s Pantry Pad Thai, you’re missing out!) and spent the afternoon reading, napping, and enjoying the sun from our hammock.

Campsite: Floe Lake Campground

Day 3: Floe Lake to The Trailhead (9.5 km)

On the third day, we took our time getting packed up and enjoying the view in the morning before making our way back to the car. The switchbacks were much easier going down and the walk along the valley was as stunning as the first time. 

It got pretty warm that afternoon so the final few kilometres were a bit of a slog – we stopped at the creek to fill up on water before the drive home.

Trip Video

Reflections

Overall, we absolutely LOVED this trip. It is definitely one of our new favourite hikes in the Rockies and we are already dying to do back.

What Went Well

We made it to camp just before dark! If you have more time, it would be nice to hang out at the lake for a few hours before hitting the hay.

We got the best campsite in the place. Again, if at all possible, grab that first campsite. We actually didn’t get it the first night but moved all of our stuff to it first thing in the morning once it freed up.

The weather was fantastic. We had a ton of sunshine and only 1 night of rain. July is a great month for hiking in the Canadian Rockies! Although you can sometimes expect rain, the snow is typically all melted and the sun shines on most days.

What Could Have Gone Better

Setting up in the rain the first night. This wasn’t ideal because we were wet and cold going to sleep and had a hard time warming up. Other than that, this trip was the bomb!

Gallery


Author Bio

Cayleigh is a Canadian travel junkie with a passion for the outdoors! Over the past 9 years, she and her fiance have travelled the world in search of off-the-grid adventures and bucket list experiences. They are currently finishing up a camper van conversion and gearing up to hit the road!

Website: Made To Travel

Instagram: @cay.myhre

YouTube: Made to Travel

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