Distance: 7 km
Elevation gain: 330 m View map Download GPS track
We awoke this morning to haze and a forecast and skies that suggested showers and thunderstorms. We’d rested yesterday, however, and so instead of lounging around for the entire day we decided to head to the Peyto Lake viewpoint for a short hike to a former fire lookout site above Bow Lake. The former lookout site is variably known as “Bow Lookout”, “Bow Summit”, and “Bow Summit Lookout”, depending on the source.
We started hiking at the lower parking lot for the Peyto Lake viewpoint, making our way past the viewpoint and onto an interpretative trail, all of which was paved. Near the midpoint of the interpretative trail we turned onto the old lookout road and gently ascended to the former lookout site. Travel was very easy and appearances by two families of ptarmigan, marmots, and wildflowers kept us company along the way.
The view from the old lookout site was very impressive for such an easy walk, particularly the view to the south towards Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier. The haze and position of the sun detracted from it a bit, but for an off-day easy excursion it was still very nice.
On the way back, about a kilometer from the lookout, we turned left onto a trail, hoping to get a view of Peyto Lake from higher up and without the herds of tourists. This worked very well and after a short walk we were treated to a panorama of the lake from a rocky outcropping about 150 m higher than the official lookout. A number of unofficial trails spidering away from this area indicated others regularly come up here as well.
Our return to the truck was uneventful save for the massive herds of tourists below the official viewpoint. It was sad to see most of them struggling enormously to walk the measly 600 m along the paved, gently graded trail to the viewpoint. A few, having hiked a mere couple hundred meters from their cars, were already asking us how much further the viewpoint was and many were panting out of control and resting. It was both shocking and sad to see; the health and quality of life costs must be enormous.