Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Western Canada Diaries - 10. Lake Peyto and Bow Summit Lookout

[ Continued from Part 9 - Icefields Parkway  ]

To get to Bow Summit lookout point (roughly 40 km north of Lake Louise), you have to take a small detour off the Icefields Parkway.

Now I knew about this lookout point, I had seen pictures of the view online; so I was constantly promising my family that it would be worth it. But for all of that to happen, we would have to make sure we didn't miss this exit. As you can see in the map, it's really a small, almost hidden, exit.

And it's a small sign, so you can easily miss it if you didn't know about it. At this point we still had cellphone coverage, so we used Google Maps (and paid heavily for roaming data) to make sure we weren't lost. Once we took the small road, we found it to be winding, narrow and going steadily uphill. Finally we came to a small clearing that looked like a parking lot.

Another trail led up from the parking lot, but it was quite steep, so we decided not to drive there. We parked the car and got out. There was only one other car parked there, with nobody in it.

We soon saw this small gravel path. There were no signs or any other markings, and no other person around. We all looked at each other and said, "I guess we take this?"

We started to walk along the path, which was a steady uphill climb. Soon we wished we had brought water bottles with us. It wasn't a tiring climb by any means, but we were quite high above sea level, and the air was noticeably thinner, so you couldn't exert yourself as you normally would. Bow Summit is actually the highest point on the Icefields Parkway.

We met a woman walking downhill, in the other direction, after about ten minutes.

"Oh, you are halfway there." She told us. "Don't stop, keep going! It's definitely worth it."

And once we reached the view point ... OH YES! It was definitely worth it.

Lake Peyto lay below us in all of its glory. For a while no one moved. We were just happy to sit there and soak in the dream like scenery.

The lake has a very unique turquoise colour due to the flow of significant amounts of glacial rock flour. The outline at one end actually looks like a bear's paw.

And He has cast great mountains in the earth lest it shift with you, and (made) rivers and roads that you may be guided (Quran, 16:15) 

One interesting fact I discovered while hiking is that the colour of the lake not only changes with seasons (due to thawing and glacial rock flour) but also depends on the sunlight, as well as the elevation. This is why Lake Peyto looks particularly stunning, as its viewed from way up.

The lookout point tend to get crowded, but we reached there around 6 pm, when there was hardly anyone there. The sun sets here around 10 pm in the summer, so there was still a lot of time till sunset.

Once again, photos do not do justice to this. Please do go see this in person if you can. Your eyes will thank you.

Notice that you have to dress appropriately. Even though it's summer, we are now quite high up, so a light jacket at times is necessary. It's just a small detour along the highway if you are heading somewhere. The small road is a ten minute drive, and the hike is another ten to twenty minutes (depending on your walking speed).  But yes, definitely worth it.

Bow Summit and Lake Peyto is one of the highlights if you are visiting the Canadian Rockies.


Salma Dinani said...

We never made it to bow summit but we did donthe short hike to bow falls. It was beautiful!

nadia said...

Breathtaking! Definitely worth the climb/hike. Were there people fishing in Lake Peyto as well?

mezba said...

Salma, something for next time!

Nadia, I didn't see anyone fishing in Lake Peyto, but we were very high up. These are glacier lakes, so I am not sure what kinds of fish they have.