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Skoki Loop - Baker Lake to Merlin Meadows

Banff National Park

A wonderful hike through the valley to Skoki Lodge, followed by an incredibly scenic side trip to Lake Merlin will make for a very scenic and peaceful day in the mountains.

Hiking Difficult

15 km
429 m
605 m
3-4 hrs
Low Point
2.1 km
High Point
2.3 km
Skoki Loop - Baker Lake to Merlin Meadows Map

This is day 2 of the 3 day Skoki loop backpacking trip. Today you will finally get to see the historic Skoki Lodge, travel through the very scenic Skoki valley, and have the option for a side trip to Merlin and Castilleja Lakes.


If you get out of your tent nice and early, the day starts with an awesome view of the surrounding mountains reflecting in Baker Lake. This is a small campground, so you will have a very peaceful morning whilst you pack up camp and get ready for the day.

As you leave Baker Lake on route to Skoki Lodge, the trail travels through the valley and around the back of Fossil mountain. This trail is right at the top of the treeline, so whilst you are hiking in the trees, they are very spaced out and offer stunning views of the surrounding peaks. This is an extremely pretty & scenic trail, which is going to be the theme for the entire day.

You soon arrive at the historic & world famous Skoki Lodge. Many famous people have stayed here over the years, including members of the royal family. Skoki Lodge is open to guests during the summer, so you could book to spend the night here rather than camping at Merlin Meadows as a much more luxurious option. Even if you don't stay at the lodge, don't pass up the chance to get a refreshing beer, it's quite the luxury when this far into the backcountry.

Once you leave the lodge, Merlin Meadows campground is only a short walk away. As it will still be early in the day, you can choose between one of the two side trails nearby, Lake Merlin or Summit Skoki Mountain. On this route I opted to visit Lake Merlin, which is highly recommended.

The Lake Merlin loop can be completed in either direction, however; I'd recommend heading back to Skoki lodge after setting up camp, and completing the loop clockwise to maximise the views. The trail from Skoki lodge to Lake Merlin is extremely scenic, you hike along an exposed but well established trail which has amazing views the entire way to the Lake. This is a trail you want to take slow, to really soak in the views.

Once you arrive at the picturesque Lake Merlin, you will still have plenty of time to relax at the lake and enjoy nature. This lake is too far away from Lake Louise for any day hikers, so there is a very good chance you will have it all to yourself.

To get back to Merlin Meadows campground you hike back into the trees on the north side of the lake and follow the trail back to the campground. The campground is in a great location and offers some really stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

The campground does require advanced booking through Parks Canada, and whilst this trail is awesome all summer, it's even more spectacular if you go in larch season.



Hiking trails where obstacles such as rocks or roots are prevalent. Some obstacles can require care to step over or around. At times, the trail can be worn and eroded. The grade of the trail is generally quite steep, and can often lead to strenuous hiking.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

Some trail sections have exposed ledges or steep ascents/descents where falling could cause serious injury.


3 out of 4

Little chance of being seen or helped in case of an accident.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area