Minnewanka is a short
north east from the Town of Banff.
The trailhead is located along the
west shore of the lake north of the
picnic area and continues along
the entire length of the lake (20km).
Expect to see crowds of people at
and around the picnic area during
the summer months. Parking may be a
problem due to the crowds. There are several
in', 'Bike in' or 'Boat access'
sites located on the lake. A back
country permit is required if you
want to overnight the campsites. A
shorter hike (1.5km) to Stewart
Canyon and the Cascade River is also
located on the same trail. Lake
Minnewanka holds some very large
Lake Trout, a National Park
license is required if you want to
try out your luck. Boaters beware of
the high winds that can blow down
the valley without warning. Don't
even consider canoeing on this lake.
I watched a shore tied
boat, motor and all get picked up by
the wind and blown end over end into
the lake. At the same time we were
literally blown to the ground. It
was a frightening experience and I'm
sure glad I wasn't on the water or
in the trees at the time. I get the
feeling these 'Gales from out of no
where', are why the Stoney Indians
named it Minnewanka the 'Lake of the
Spirits'. Very fitting name indeed.
There is a nice double lane paved
boat launch at the south end near
the picnic area. Large boat tours are
offered by the Parks service that
provide excellent views of the Lakes
shore line and surrounding
Mountains. The dam at the south end
provided an early supply of power
for the local area and flooded the
original resort village of
Minnewanka in 1941. During the
summer months Scuba divers explore
the submerged Town and the original Dam.
The canal leading from the lake runs
Two Jack Lake then down to the
Bow River valley below. This canal is some
what hidden and partially buried for
a few Kilometers. Ice is usually off
the Lake by the May long weekend.
You are in
bear country, nearby
Aylmer pass and
are prime Grizzly Bear habitat.