Wish to explore a hidden gem in Canada and have a family in tow? Go to Emerald Lake with kids. Located in the very middle of Yoho National park, British Columbia, it has a lot to offer for a little effort.
We stumbled upon it on the way back from Banff National Park to Seattle and were surprised how underrated it is! Just 40 min away from the famous Lake Louise, it draws only a tiny percent of the crowds (Lake Louise gets as many as 15,000 visitors a day).
Exploring Emerald Lake with Kids
1. Snowball fight in the middle of summer
The entire place around the lake is peaceful, quiet, stroller-friendly, and easy to explore. Kids will have a lot of space to run freely and do some cool things like snowball fights. 😀 Playing in the snow was one of the highlights of the trip to the lake for our little explorers:
Pictured below: Mid-July, a huge patch of snow left from the avalanche spilled right on the trail:
2. Emerald Lake Hike
The hike around the lake is very easy and mostly flat. It’s a 5.3 km loop trail and will take you approximately 1-2 hours. The first part of it (from the parking lot to the avalanche zone) is well paved, wide, with some picnic tables, benches, and in the shade. When you reach the avalanche area, it changes to a dirt path, which would be difficult for stroller wheels.
Like at Bow Lake, you won’t experience crowds at Emerald Lake, despite a filled parking lot. You can try to hike counter-clockwise, to avoid even more people.
3. Emerald Lake With Kids: swimming, splashing, paddle boarding
The water is bitterly cold (but very refreshing on a hot summer day) because the lake is feeding on the mountain melted snow. There is no grassy area at the banks, but the water is shallow and easy to enter:
We saw plenty of paddle-boarders, the area seems like a nice one to try it out.
Cafe, picnic tables, washrooms are available during the summer season.
4. Emerald Lake Canoe/Kayak Rides
You are welcome to bring your own canoe/kayak to Emerald Lake, parking is very close to the water and it’s pretty shallow to enter. There is no official public boat launch. The hourly rate for renting a canoe is far less compared to Lake Louise or Lake Moraine!
5. Bonus: Natural Bridge
Natural Bridge is really a bridge and really natural. 😉 It is another “must visit” in Yoho National Park. Make sure to have some time to spend there (around an hour). It’s only 10 min drive before reaching Emerald Lake:
6. Winter season at Emerald Lake
The season doesn’t stop here when summer ends. Despite avalanche danger, Emerald Lake is a very popular cross country skiing destination.
7. Emerald Lake Lodge
If you are dreaming about being cut off from the world for a little while, Emerald Lake Lodge is the right place. There is no internet, no TV, no cell phone connection. Nothing but the beautiful scenery and plenty of wildlife around. The price for the rooms starts at a little over 400 CAD.
Good to know: Emerald Lake colors and sunlight impact
The name of the lake speaks for itself and the color is really fantastic, especially in the bright sun. (Mostly during July-August). Like other popular lakes in the Canadian Rockies, Emerald is frozen from November until June.
When snow from the surrounding mountains starts to thaw, it’s gradually filling the lake with rock flour, giving it that unique emerald color. Sunlight has a huge impact on the colors of the lake. During overcast, it seems pretty ordinary:
Same lake, an hour and a half later:
Emerald Lake on the Map
Have a wonderful time exploring Canada! 🙂
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