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Skoki Loop - Merlin Meadows to Lake Louise Ski Resort

Banff National Park

Lake Louise

No words can do justice to just how stunning & secluded this section of trail is, it's the highlight of the entire Skoki Loop - just check out the pictures to see what you're in for.

Hiking Severe

17 km
574 m
939 m
4-5 hrs
Low Point
1.7 km
High Point
2.6 km
Skoki Loop - Merlin Meadows to Lake Louise Ski Resort Map

This is day 3 of the 3 day Skoki Loop backpacking trip. Quite often the last day of a multiday hike is just a hike through the forest back to the car, but that's definitely not the case here; for this trip we saved the best till last.


There are two routes out from Skoki Lodge, the more popular Deception Pass, and the less popular but slightly more difficult Packers Pass. This route goes via Packers Pass, and although Deception Pass does offer good views the entire way, Packers Pass is definitely the scenic route.

To start the day you head out of camp and back to Skoki Lodge - from here join the trail for packers pass. The trail very quickly opens up into a beautiful valley, with really good views of Pika Peak in the distance. This is where two of the prettiest and least known lakes in Banff National park are located.

As you hike along the valley you will soon see a large headwall that looks impassable. This is the only difficult section of the route, and is what prevents people taking this route and heading over deception pass instead. If you follow the GPS track right to the base of the headwall, eventually you will see an opening with a trail to scramble up. This is the route up and it won't become obvious till you are very close.

At the top of the headwall you are greeted by one of the most amazing alpine lakes, which on a calm day perfectly reflects the surrounding landscapes into the lake. This lake is one of the highlights of the trip, it's not well known and there's a very high possibility you will be the only person there. I couldn't believe how somewhere this picturesque could still be so unknown to so many people who visit this area.

As you pass by the lake, you head up to Zigadenus Lake - this is a glacier lake and has the perfect turquoise colour you expect from glacier lakes in this area. As you hike up over Packers Pass, keep looking back to get an aerial view of this awesome glacier lake.

At the top of Packers Pass you will be able to see Ptarmigan Lake which you hiked around on day one. At the summit of the pass it's well worth dropping your pack, and having a quick hike up the summit of Packers Peak for 360 views of the entire area. The views up here are spectacular on a clear day, it's well worth the short hike up.

From the peak it's a straightforward descent back to Lake Louise ski area. This is still a really scenic descent, with awesome views of Mt Temple off in the distance. As you head back towards the ski area you are heading into more popular bear territory, so ensure you make noise and have the bear spray accessible.



Hiking challenging trails where simple scrambling, with the occasional use of the hands, is a distinct possibility. The trails are often filled with all manner of obstacles both small and large, and the hills are very steep. Obstacles and challenges are often unexpected and can be unpredictable.

High Exposure

3 out of 4

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


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

between July and September


  • Alpine
  • Wildlife
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features

Similar routes nearby

Guidebooks in this area