Taylor Lake is a great hiking destination during wildflower season. It’s also a somewhat under-the-radar larch season hike. And because it’s below treeline, we consider the trail to the lake outlet to have relatively lower avalanche risk. So in mid-November, we added Taylor Lake to our list of 2020/21 winter hikes. Mr. GeoK put together a Relive video recap of our half-day outing. And I’m finally posting our trip report here.
Parking for the Taylor Lake trail is on the west side of the TransCanada Highway, between Castle Junction and Lake Louise. From the passenger seat, Castle Mountain looked beautiful.
There were no other vehicles in the parking lot when we arrived about 8:30 on a mid-week morning. There are vault toilets, bear-proof garbage cans and recycling bins in one corner of the parking lot.
Trail to Taylor Lake
To access the trail required a couple of steps up, passing through a gate in the wildlife fence, closing it and then a few steps down. A lost glove hung from the gate post, which got us wondering how often items found on a trail end up reunited with their owners.
Between skiers, folks on snowshoes and other winter adventurers, the trail was fairly well packed down almost all the way to the lake. A couple of downed trees pose a hazard for inattentive skiers, but just a bit of extra effort from hikers.
On the steeper parts, our MICROspikes were a welcome traction boost.
The only breaks we took on the way up were for photography, after noticing something interesting like the smiley face in the snow atop one spruce beside the trail.
Once we reached the Y-junction the trail because much less packed down. This made us a bit uncomfortable, because the straight/right branch leads to the meadow above the lake, and into avalanche terrain. We hope everyone headed in that direction is aware of the risk and carrying appropriate equipment.
We headed left, remaining below treeline, for the final, short push to the lakeshore.
While there was a faint track towards the campground/picnic tables, no one had been up this way since before the most recent snowfall. Mr. GeoK headed to the lake outlet to set up for a timelapse.
I tromped through the snow towards the picnic tables, almost buried under snow.
The sun tried to warm things up a bit, but wind gusts and cloud soon had us pulling on every bit of clothing in our packs. Even so, operating camera gear requires exposed fingers, which soon grew extremely chilled.
I tromped back down the trail about, to find shelter from the wind where I drank a warm cup of tea and munched on a trail bar. Meanwhile, Mr. GeoK grew ever colder, shooting photos while babysitting his timelapse equipment.
Feeling a bit warmer, I headed back out into the wind to help Mr. GeoK pack up his gear. He was definitely ready to getting moving and get warmed up by the time we stowed everything away.
We kept up a steady and fairly quick pace back to the parking lot.
The threat of snow turned to reality about 30 minutes from the parking lot. It was peaceful and quiet, with not even a single spruce grouse to watch – unlike our experience on the Boom Lake trail.
The trail to Taylor Lake is entirely below treeline, which means it’s relatively lower risk for avalanche. It’s on the Park’s Canada list of difficult snowshoe/winter hiking trails in the Lake Louise area, with a warning of avalanche danger beyond reaching the lake.
Distance = 13.7 km
Elevation gain = 625 meters (625 net)
Hiking time = 3 hours 30 minutes plus 1 hour 15 minutes for photography/videography and rest stops (total 4 hrs 45 min)