Total Distance: 1/2 mile (main overlook), 1.5 miles (2nd overlook)
Trailhead Elevation: 6,859′
Total Elevation Gain: 417’ (2nd overlook and back)
Recommended Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Recommended Season: Early-June to Late-September
Peyto Lake Trail
The Peyto Lake Trail is a short and slightly steep path that leads to an overlook of the most stunningly rich turquoise-colored lake in the Canadian Rockies. This is a very popular trail to an increasingly popular and iconic view. Only Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies rival the fame and beauty of Peyto Lake. While the short trail has very little challenge or beauty itself, the destination alone puts the Peyto Lake Trail high on our list of the best day hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
The Main Viewpoint
The hike up to the main viewpoint for Peyto Lake starts in the small parking lot located a short distance off of the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. The main Peyto Lake Trail is relatively easy, short, and paved making it a trail that is achievable by all skill levels. For this reason, the main viewpoint can be very crowded but it is a no less stunning aerial view of the lake.
The Upper Viewpoint
Take in the first view with the massive crowds. Then keep going to the left past this area. Follow the paved path to a small dirt trail up the hill. This is now a moderate hike, but the dirt path leads to a more secluded overlook of the lake known as the upper viewpoint. Ironically, this angle is often the one featured in magazines and stories, but few people go this far. In short, it is worth the extra effort to have a more secluded view of the gorgeous Peyto Lake.
The name of the lake is pronounced “Pee-Toe.” It is named after Bill Peyto who was an early guide and trapper in the Canadian Rockies. I think the folklore that it was named because a horse urinated on someone’s toe here is much funnier, so lets spread that around. #IntentionalFakeNews.
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