Banff National Park: Lake Minnewanka Loop


After leaving the C-Level Cirque trialhead, I decided to pay another visit to Lake Minnewanka. It was rainy and gloomy when I was there the previous night, but this time, some sun was peeking through the clouds.

Lake Minnewanka Loop is a nice, short, scenic drive that runs alongside the western tip of Lake Minnewanka, then skirts the smaller Two Jack Lake, before reaching the end of the loop.  A side road leads to tiny but beautiful Johnson Lake.

I found several places to stop along the edge of Lake Minnewanka.  The road runs directly alongside the shoreline, as you can see in this 180o panorama.

Each viewpoint of Lake Minnewanka is spectacular.

The loop road stays on a hillside, slightly above Two Jack Lake.  I didn’t think it was quite as impressive as Lake Minnewanka, but that’s probably because the sun wasn’t in the right place.

Johnson Lake might be the best of the three lakes to visit, if you’re hoping for an easy hike.  There’s an easy, 3 kilometer (1.9 mile) trail that circles the lake.  But, you don’t have to take a walk to find the best views: the western end of Johnson Lake has a great view of the Fairholme Range, especially after lunchtime, when the mountains are lit by the afternoon sun that hangs low in the southwestern sky.

Coming from Calgary, take the first Banff exit, and watch for signs that point towards Lake Minnewanka (you’ll head away from town).  The loop road will take you past Lower Bankhead and Upper Bankhead, then the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area, then past the edge of Lake Minnewanka, Two Jack Lake, and the turnoff to Johnson Lake, before the end of the loop.

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