We were pleasantly surprised by the snow at Emerald Lake and Kicking Horse River today.
We didn’t get on the trail ’til 4 pm, but we made the most of it by skiing the Emerald Lake Basin Loop(also known as the Emerald Lake Horse Trail) which was a blast, and the Kicking Horse river. Early season conditions create a lot of dips and rises on the Emerald Lake trackset trail and they are a lot of fun when you get going on the gentle downhill portion. There were a few places with some twigs poking through, and a couple spots where the pine needles covered the trail, but nothing to complain about, or that would cause a faceplant. After completing the Basin loop, we wanted to turn around and do it in the reverse direction, it was so beautiful and so much fun. Photos from today
You can’t yet do a complete circuit on the lake because it’s not totally frozen, so you return on the same trail on the west shoreline of the lake. The Yoho trail map indicates that the Basin loop is 5.3K but it sure doesn’t seem that long. Or maybe it just goes by too fast when you’re having so much fun. From the trailhead to the end of the lake, the map says 2.0K which would make a total of 9.3K.
Chic Scott’s guide book, Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies says, “a lovely tour in a beautiful setting…the skiing is easy. Highly recommended.” I would like to add that on a nice day, this is nothing short of magnificent.
There is a kiosk at the trailhead run by Emerald Sports where you can rent skis, buy gear, sip apple cider, or just warm up. The air temperature today was -6, and blue wax worked fine. Of course, Emerald Lake Lodge is located on the shores of the lake if you want to stay overnight in this gorgeous setting. I have many happy memories from numerous skiing and hiking trips here. In fact, this is where I did my first ever hike in the Canadian Rockies about 12 years ago.
Although darkness was falling, we couldn’t resist checking out the Kicking Horse River trail. It was single trackset and in good condition as well. I would recommend doing this in the daylight, however, because there are some beautiful views here as well. The trailhead is on the Emerald Lake road at the Natural Bridge parking lot, and the distance is 13K return. There are backcountry trails which branch off this route, the Otterhead trail and the Amiskwi trail. You can ski along the Amiskwi for several hours or several days as it is 76K return.