During peak wildflower or larch season, with the impressive Giant Steps as your turnaround point, this is a great choice for those wanting to avoid the crowds that swarm the trails at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
An out and back hike starting from the parking lot at Emerald Lake, the relatively steep trail to Hamilton Lake in Yoho National Park traverses a patch of Western Interior Cedar-Hemlock Rainforest, follows a stretch of Hamilton Creek to the base of a lovely, multi-stepped waterfall, then climbs through more typical forest, crossing a couple of avalanche slopes where wildflowers bloom in abundance, before finally reaching the brilliantly-turquoise Hamilton Lake. We opted to carry on past the lake, up a long talus slope to the base of Top Hat Peak. Looking down on Hamilton Lake brought back fond memories of hiking the nearby Lake O'Hara region of Yoho National Park.
A long day hike from the Elbow Pass Day Use area on Highway 40 in Kanananskis Country, the route to Piper Pass skirts picturesque Elbow Lake, crosses expansive meadows where abundant and colourful wildflowers bloom, includes the option for a short side trip to Edworthy Falls, requires fording the Elbow River, passes many waterfalls in Piper Creek Canyon, leads to an expansive alpine meadow and ultimately to a challenging, steep scree climb to a pass with amazing views both north and south.