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Floe Lake is a gem of an alpine lake along the Rockwall trail a multi-day hiking trail in Kootenay National Park, BC. Though it doesn’t receive as much attention as nearby lakes such as Moraine Lake and Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Floe Lake is well worth hiking out too. This alpine lake isn’t the only attraction, the huge rock wall that acts as the backdrop to the waters are part of the attraction.
If you’re looking to hike the Rockwall trail, or just want to hike to Floe Lake, this Kootenay National Park hiking guide is for you!
The Floe Lake trail
Floe Lake is one of the best hikes in Kootenay National Park in BC. It takes you across a river, up through forest fire damage and up some serious switchbacks before coming out at the lake.
This hike can be done as an overnight, as part of a longer multi-day hike or as a day hike. Just be prepared to start early if you’re doing this as a day hike to leave plenty of time to complete it!
Floe Lake is one of the gems of the Rockwall Trail, a multi-day trip which is considered to be one of the best multiday treks in the whole of Canada. At 55.6 km long, the Rockwall Trail takes you past an unbroken wall of limestone cliffs which tower over 900 metres high.
Floe Lake is either the first, or the last campsite of the Rockwall trail depending on whether you’re hiking from north to south, or south to north. Most tend to hike south to north.
Floe Lake, Kootenay National Park trail statistics
Here are a few more details about the hike to Floe Lake!
Floe Lake trail map
Floe Lake camping reservations
Despite being quieter than many of the Banff hikes, you’ll still need to reserve in advance to camp at Floe Lake to make sure there’s a spot!
Since Floe Lake is in a National Park, you’ll need to book through Parks Canada which can be done online. Visit the Parks Canada Reservations site, and select ‘backcountry camping’ as your reservation type. Pick ‘Banff, Kootenay and Yoho’ as the parks, fill in the dates and number to people and then select Floe Lake campground to reserve your spot.
It costs $21.52 to stay one night at Floe Lake campground PLUS your entrance fee to the National Park. You can buy your National Park ticket online here. It’s $10 a day to visit. Or, you can buy an annual pass if you’re going to spend a week in Canadian National Parks, or plan to revisit throughout the year.
What to know before doing the Floe Lake hike
- Always practice Leave No Trace. Not sure what that is? Here’s a reminder.
- Dogs are allowed on the trail on a leash but are not recommended due to the presence of grizzly bears.
- Fires are not permitted anywhere on the trail
- The Numa Creek trail is closed.
- If planning to visit the area in winter, check the avalanche reports beforehand.
- Always carry bear spray
- There isn’t much water along the trail, pack appropriately and take a water filter to filter from the lake.
Floe Lake, BC trail report
The Floe Lake trail begins with a nice flat section to get you warmed up. Around 400m into the trail, you’ll cross over the Vermillion River which is a beautiful aqua colour, before strolling through fire damage and crossing over another stream.
As you walk, you’ll notice the fire damage from the wildfire in 2003. In 2018, the wildfires almost burned the Floe Lake trail again and the trail was closed for weeks. Now you’ll see the signs of new life with trees and shrubs growing in amongst the burned-out trees. In late July/early August you’ll be walking through beautiful wildflowers too.
There’s some elevation after your second river crossing, but it’s nothing too steep. For the first 7km or so you’ll be walking on mostly flat terrain as you head towards the giant rock straight ahead of you.
Soon you’ll be able to see a waterfall and you’ll head just to the right where the path becomes harder to follow due to avalanche damage. There’s some flagging here which guides you across the rocks and debris. Once you’ve reached the other side of this, you’ll start the real climb!
This final climb is hard with a series of steep switchbacks. Luckily you’re in the trees so you’ll get shade if hiking in the summer.
As the trail flattens out it’s just a few hundred metres until you reach the lake! Walk past a few camp spots (or bag the first one on your left if you’re camping as it’s the only one with a lake view!), and down to the lake to enjoy lunch and perhaps an alpine swim.
To return, follow the trail back the way you came.
Hiking to Numa Pass
If you’re not hiking the whole Rockwall Trail, I’d highly recommend setting up camp at Floe Lake and then taking your 10 essentials and hiking up to Numa Pass. The trail to Numa Pass is where things get seriously beautiful, especially in fall with the golden larch trees.
To get to Numa Pass, walk towards the end of the campground and follow the signs as they point to your right, uphill.
You’ll be glad to hear the trail isn’t as steep as the switchbacks you’ve just conquered!
The trail is easy to follow. Begin by walking through the trees and soon you’ll come out into the open. Look behind every now and again for views of the lake and the Rockwall!
The views ahead of you open up and you’ll be able to see the pass. Keep on hiking to it as it’s 100% worth it; the views are stunning.
Once you reach the pass, sit down a while and enjoy the views. You’ll know you’ve reached it as the trail descends if you continue. The mountains stretch far into the distance. When I visited at the beginning of October the larches were still gold.
What to pack for the Floe Lake Trail
If you’re day hiking the Floe Lake trail then check out my day hike packing list. If you’re camping, check out my packing list for the Berg Lake trail, as it’s pretty similar to what you’ll need for this hike.