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Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows

Banff National Park

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows

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  • Looking down the access road that bookends the loop.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • There are a lot of fun rocks to scramble up alongside the trail.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • The half-way Hut.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • View of the trail leading to Ptarmigan Lake.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • Ptarmigan Lake.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • View of Baker Lake from the camping area.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • Sunrise at Baker Lake.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • Hiking through the valley near the Red Deer Lakes.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • The inside of Skoki Lodge. They provide hot meals to guests and even bring in beer!- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • Skoki Lodge.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • View of the Skoki Lakes from Deception Pass.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • Ptarmigan Lake from about half way down Deception Pass.- Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
  • - Skoki Loop via Baker Lake and Merlin Meadows
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Great views. Away from crowds. Swimming. Wildlife potential.
Cons: 
Hiking the access road. Deer flies in some areas.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes
Net Elevation Gain: 
744.32 m (2,442.00 ft)
Parking Pass: 
National Park Pass
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Suitable for:
Hiking, Horseback
Total Distance: 
38.19 km (23.73 mi)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,706.88 m (5,600.00 ft)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Skoki Loop is a great hike, whether this is your first backpacking trip or you are an experienced adventurer looking to get away from the crowds of Lake Louise. The loop includes some elevation, but hikers will also enjoy scenic valley meadows. There are four backwoods campsites along the loop to help preserve the wildlife in the area. Camping at Baker Lake Campground and Merlin Meadows offers a three-day, two-night trip that splits the loop up evenly.

The trail starts at Fish Creek Trailhead. This is the service road for Skoki Lodge and Lake Louise Ski Resort, where you may be lucky enough to hitch a ride with one of the workers because this is the least fun part of the hike. From the access road, follow the trail signs to Skoki Lodge and then onto Baker Lake. The trail here is in a wooded area scattered with ski trail openings. About half way to Baker Lake you will reach the aptly named “half-way hut” as well as an outhouse (bring your own toilet paper). This is a good place for a quick snack. The first sign does not show Baker Lake; follow the sign for Hidden Lake for a short walk and you will find another sign that points you toward Deception Pass and Baker Lake. This section of the trail takes you toward Ptarmigan Lake. The combination of the elevation and the views looking back on the trail are breathtaking. Reaching Ptarmigan Lake is a very scenic location for lunch and even a quick dip if you not mind freezing glacial water.

Follow the trail around Ptarmigan Lake toward Deception Pass. There is a “high road” and “low road,” and both will take you to the pass. The “low road” is the path that the horses use typically use, so be on the lookout. Once you reach Deception Pass, take the left up the path  if you are going to Merlin Lake; hikers staying at Baker Lake will stay to the right.

The second day includes very little elevation and will take travelers through an alpine valley spotted with creeks, wildflowers, and beautiful lakes. Keep an eye out for wildlife ranging from bears, moose, and elk to smaller creatures including ptarmigan, spruce grouse, marmot, and Richardson’s ground squirrel. With all the small creatures running around, large birds of prey can also be seen. Banff is active bear country for both grizzlies and black bears, and carrying bear spray is a must.

As you make your way through the meadows you will pass a horse paddock. Some of the signs here can be easy to miss, so make sure you are paying close attention. The trail dips into tight woods before making it to Merlin Meadows. Skoki Lodge is 1 kilometer away if you are not looking to rough it for the night.

The hike out from Merlin Meadows passes Skoki Lodge and then continues over Deception Pass. You will get views of the hidden Skoki lakes that are the eye popping bluegreen of glacial lakes in this area. Once you descend Deception Pass you'll backtrack around Ptarmigan Lake to the half-way hut and back to the access road and eventually the parking area.

Tips:

  • Bring toilet paper for the outhouses. All of the campgrounds have two.
  • Campgrounds have an area for bear-bags, so you don’t have to worry about hanging them yourself.
  • Depending on the weather and forest fire risk, campfires may or may not be allowed in the area, so plan ahead.
Updates, Tips + Comments

Updates, Tips + Comments

Field Guide

Field Guide

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(22 within a 30 mile radius)

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