The Boom Lake trail is part 1 of my 2 part “hike Boom Lake, Taylor Lake, and O’Brien Lake in 1 day” post; you can find part 2 here. The Boom Lake trail is an easy hike in Banff that’s good for all ability levels, families, and solo hikers. The trail takes you through Banff’s beautiful alpine forest and lets out at the magical Boom Lake.
Before I tell you all about what to expect on the Boom Lake Trail it’s important to note that Banff is a National Park which means you’ll need a Park’s Pass. You can buy them at the Park gates, online, or at the visitor centre.
Now, let’s go hiking!
- How to get to Boom Lake trail
- About Boom Lake Trail
- Hiking Boom Lake Trail
- Essential hiking gear
- What to wear hiking
- Part 2: Taylor & O’Brien Lake
- Tips for a successful hike
- Best places to stay in Banff
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- 50+ Things to do in Banff in summer
- Discover more Banff trail guides
- Complete guide to the Icefields Parkway
- Step-by-step guide for planning a trip to Banff
- What to wear hiking in Banff
- Hiking gear guide for Banff
How To Get To Boom Lake Trail
In case you decide to do part 2 of this hike (Taylor Lake & O’Brien Lake), I’ve marked the Boom Lake trailhead AND the Taylor Lake trailhead below. You’ll need 2 cars to do a car drop.
The Boom Lake trailhead is located 30 minutes from Banff along highway 93. There are no shuttles that take you to the Boom Lake trailhead, so if you don’t have a car you’ll have to rent one.
The Boom Lake day-use area (where you park) has a bathroom and picnic tables.
About Boom Lake Trail
- Distance: 10.8km
- Elevation gain: 572m
- Rated: easy
- Type of trail: out & back (point to point if you hike part 2)
- Estimated time: 4hrs
Don’t let the distance scare you! The Boom Lake trail is a long one, but the elevation you gain along the way is at a very gentle grade. You therefor barely feel the effort you’re putting in.
The trail is heavily trafficked and well marked, making this a great hike if you’re interested in solo-hiking. The terrain is simple to navigate and does not contain much exposed roots and rocks. This holds true until you get to the lake, which is surrounded by a rock field.
You’ll cross a few tiny streams along the path and walk over a newly renovated boardwalk closer to the lake.
A couple things to note about the Boom Lake trail:
- It’s buggy – bring a bug suit. I prefer bug suits over bug repellent because they’re totally chemical & waste free
- Bears – there are both black bears and grizzlies in Banff National Park. It’s wise to bring bear spray for protection
- Mud – the trail can be quite muddy. make sure you have proper Gore-tex footwear. I use the Scarpa Kailesh boot (men’s version) and I absolutely love them. They’re great in any type of terrain, on day-hikes, and multi-day backpacking excursions.
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Hiking Boom Lake Trail
The Boom Lake trail starts at the Boom Lake day-use area. You’ll see a trail sign, the Boom Lake trailhead is directly behind it. There’s honesty not a whole lot to say about the Boom Lake trail! It’s very straight forward and easy to follow.
Along the way you’ll see a few side trails – don’t take these unless you’re headed to Taylor Lake. You’ll be in the trees for the entirety of this hike, so the only views you’ll get along the way are the occasional sneaky opening in the trees.
Do keep an eye out for the cutest painted rocks along the way! They’re scattered on the trail and there’s a few around Boom Lake’s shore.
Right before you reach Boom Lake you’ll cross a newly renovated boardwalk.
Once you arrive at Boom Lake you’ll quickly discover there’s not many places to sit and chill because the entire shoreline is covered in a rock field. If you want to hangout for the day here, bring camping chairs (these ones are excellent for hiking and backpacking; they’re small and lightweight).
^Also make sure you hike on a nice day! My hiking partners and I hiked on a cold and rainy day. We were super keen to get out and explore, but the rain did make the trip slightly less enjoyable. Mainly because it took away some of the views.
You’ll find one notably large rock along the shore which is the best photo-op.
You can also continue to hike around Boom Lake. There is a very lightly beaten down path that leads through the trees. You may be able to find some pink/orange trail markers, however it’s mostly bushwhacking because this path is not well travelled at all. You’ll pass by a hill, then come to another tiny open spot in the trees which allows you to see the other side of Boom Lake.
Continue reading for: part 2 (Taylor Lake & O’Brien Lake), tips for a successful Boom Lake hike, essential hiking gear for Banff, and the best places to stay in Banff.
Looking for More Banff Adventures?
Banff is an adventurer’s & view seeker’s paradise. If you’re planning a trip to this gorgeous Canadian Park, you can start with this step-by-step guide designed to help you plan the perfect Banff itinerary.
Alternatively, check out this page with all my Banff resources.
Banff Hiking Resources
On this page you can find all my Banff trail guides. A few signature hikes in Banff are these easy trails, Tunnel Mountain, Sulphur Mountain, Lake Louise, and Johnston Canyon. If you’re only in Banff for a few days, start with those!
More Banff Resources you Might Find Interesting:
Want to continue your Canadian Rockies expedition outside of Banff? Check out my trail guides & travel resources for British Columbia and Kananaskis Country as well as Jasper, Waterton, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks 🙂
Recommended Hiking Gear
The following items are some of my favourites – I never hit the trail without them!
The Capture Clip by Peak Design is a sturdy, safe, and super convenient way to carry your camera while hiking or backpacking.
Find it on Amazon (CAD).
Find it on Peak Design (US).
A hydration reservoir is SO important. It holds 2L+ of water and keeps you hydrated on-trail. I use the 2L Hydrapak; it never leaks and has a detachable tube.
What To Wear Hiking in the Rockies
For a detailed guide on what to wear hiking in the Canadian Rockies, check out this post.
Choosing what to wear hiking can be confusing, but the secret to properly dressing for a hike is layering. You can mix and match the tops and bottoms you already own to make up your base layers, however in addition to those clothes you’ll need a few extra things:
A waterproof jacket is the most important layer for hiking – it keeps you warm and protects you from wind and rain. I use the Marmot Eco Precip Jacket (men’s version) which is totally a bang-for-your-buck. If rain is in the forecast, don’t forget to pack waterproof pants (men’s version) too.
A good pair of hiking boots are Gore-tex, provide ankle support, and are durable. I use the Scarpa Kailash boot (men’s version) and they’ve never let me down. You’ll also want a good quality pair of socks. I use Smartwool – they’re great quality and last an entire season.
Rocky Mountain hiking exposes you to different natural elements and conditions – it’s imperative that you’re prepared for whatever nature throws at you. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way!
More: Day-hiking Gear Guide
Part 2: Taylor Lake & O’Brien Lake
I hiked Boom Lake on one day & Taylor Lake and O’Brien Lake another, however you do have the option to hike both of these trails in a single day. Keep in mind the trailheads are far apart though so you will need to do a car drop (find the Boom Lake trailhead and Taylor Lake trailhead on my trailhead map).
Hiking To Taylor Lake FROM Boom Lake
Keep an eye out for the sign (hiker’s right) on the Boom Lake trail that marks the side-trail for Taylor Lake. It will be located midway between the trailhead and Boom Lake; it will clearly state which direction is for Boom Lake vs which direction is for Taylor Lake. Before taking this route, make sure you check out Boom Lake because the Taylor Lake side-trail will lead you away from it! Within 2.5km of following the trail you’ll arrive at the beautiful O’Brien Lake! For a more detailed description of the Taylor Lake trail, check out part 2 of my “how to hike Boom Lake, Taylor Lake, and O’Brien Lake in one day” guide.
- For reference this is the actual route, however it does not include a stop at Boom Lake, so make sure you include Boom Lake in your itinerary!
Tips For A Successful Hike
- Check out part 2 of the Boom Lake Trail; Taylor Lake & O’Brien Lake
- Start the Boom Lake Trail early to avoid the crowds – this is a very popular hike in Banff
- Bring fishing equipment (make sure you’re following the Park’s guidelines for fishing)
- Bring a picnic and backpacking chairs to enjoy Boom Lake’s scenery
- There’s one big rock along Boom Lake’s shoreline, this is the best photo-op
- Look for the painted rocks with inspirational quotes along the way
- Hike Boom Lake on a clear day. If you hike on a foggy day the mountains will be covered and there isn’t tons to see
- Continue to walk along Boom Lake’s shore through the overgrown trail to view different parts of the lake
Where to Stay in Banff
This post is my detailed breakdown of all the best hotels in Banff – all organized by category.Booking.com
- Hostels – Samesun Banff (best location + bar/restaurant on-site), Banff International Hostel, and HI Banff.
- Budget stays – Bow View Lodge and High Country Inn.
- Mid-range stays – Banff Park Lodge, Mount Royal, Elk & Avenue, and the Banff Caribou & spa.
- Luxury stays – Fairmont Banff Springs and the Rimrock Resort.
- Camp – reservation information.
- See all Banff accommodations.
Travellers can also opt to stay in locations near Banff:
- Lake Louise – Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (luxury), Paradise Lodge & Bungalows (500m from the lake), Lake Louise Inn (value stay), HI Lake Louise (hostel).
- Canmore – Malcolm Hotel (luxury), Stoneridge Mountain Resort (condo suites with fully equipped kitchens), Mountain View Inn (budget), Canmore Downtown Hostel & the Canmore Hostel (party hostel).
- Johnston Canyon – Johnston Canyon Lodge & Bungalows, Castle Mountain Chalets, and HI Castle Mountain Hostel.
- Yoho National Park – Emerald Lake Lodge and Cathedral Mountain Lodge.
- Kootenay National Park – Storm Mountain Lodge & Cabins.
- Kananaskis Country – Mount Engadine Lodge and Kananaskis Mountain Lodge (luxury), Crosswaters Resort (mid-range), and HI Kananaskis Wilderness Hostel (budget).
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About The Author
HI, I’m Taylor – the voice behind The Holistic Backpacker.
After moving to Banff National Park in 2020 I became an outdoor adventure enthusiast and vowed to never stop exploring.
I now spend my days travelling the world, climbing mountains, and spending nights under the stars in the Canadian Rockies backcountry.
I created The Holistic Backpacker so I could share my adventures and help connect people like you with the same amazing experiences.