On our last morning before leaving Banff National Park, we took the short drive to visit Lake Minnewanka. The lake looked beautiful, tinted by the first hint of winter. Our trip to the Canadian Rockies happened during the first snowfall, which meant that everywhere we visited was covered in a fresh layer of snow.
The day we visited, the weather was perfect, with blue skies and sunshine. The trees were yellow, the skies were blue, and the mountains had a fresh layer of snow on their peaks. To top it all off, the lake was a bright crystal blue, which made our job of taking pictures a lot easier.
The snow did limit our options for hiking; there are many trails that travel around the 21-km long lake and a few viewpoints that are worth hiking to when the weather is nice. During our visit, the warm weather had transformed many of the trails into ice so we couldn’t do anything too extreme. We chose a fairly easy hike instead.
We decided to explore Stewart Canyon; the trail follows along the Cascade River, one of the main rivers that empty into the lake. The trail was covered in snow, so we had to walk slowly and carefully. The reward was worth it, as we found many great viewpoints and enjoyed the early afternoon hike. When we got back towards the lake, the sun was hitting the lake at the perfect angle, and we got our best pictures on our way out.
In the right season, it is quite easy to see wildlife here, as there is an abundance of bears, elk and mountain goats that can be found here. There is a historical significance at the lake as well, as spearheads dating back to the Clovis people have been found here. The first hunter-gatherer and aboriginal peoples know the lake as “Water of the Spirits”.
When we go back to the Rocky Mountains, someday in the hopefully not too distant future, we will definitely return to Lake Minnewanka. This was one of the most beautiful lakes we visited during our trip, and the trail maps we saw have inspired us to come back to attempt some of these trails.