Emerald Lake Lodge in British Columbia has been promoted as one of Canada’s top destinations for a secluded romantic mountain getaway. It is also an absolute paradise for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing without the crowds you’d find at the nearby village of Lake Louise in Banff National Park.
Located across the border in Yoho National Park, it only takes 40 minutes to drive between the two destinations. In that short time you are transported back into another era before cars, cell phones, and crowds that go with most tourism hot spots.
When you first arrive at Emerald Lake Lodge you’ll notice that you can’t park right at the lodge. A shuttle bus transports you to your cabin from a parking lot a few minutes away. This guarantees a quiet peaceful visit without the noise of guests arriving and leaving at any time of day. Day users can park at a closer parking lot in front of the lake but nobody gets over the bridge to the lodge itself – except on foot.
Guests have the choice of 24 cabin-style buildings along with the main lodge, which are located on the resort’s 13-acre peninsula on the shores of scenic Emerald Lake. Most of the cabins offer a view of the lake with private deck for the rare moment when you’re actually inside your cabin rather than skiing or snowshoeing. The cabins are luxuriously decorated and feature wood burning fireplaces for a romantic après-snowshoe experience.
The most popular snowshoe trail leaves from right outside the lodge and circles the lake in a three-mile loop. At that distance, you could practically bring your skis and snowshoes and do two loops back-to-back. Most skiers would prefer to do the loop through the trees on the tracked ski trail, but for snowshoers it’s beautiful to just trek across the lake and make your way to the far side where a bridge connects you to the main trail again.
For those with more time and energy on their hands, the lake circuit can be extended for another two-and-a-half miles on the Emerald Alluvial Fan Loop Trail that leaves from the back of the lake. For a longer snowshoe tour, try the Emerald River Trail, which leaves from the parking lot and follows the river for a 10-mile round trip. The River Trail is especially good for snowshoers as it is snowshoe packed only and not groomed for skiing. For a final option in the area, try the short hike to Hamilton Falls, which also departs from the Emerald Lake parking lot. It’s a good easy jaunt for an after-breakfast hike before leaving in the morning.
When you tire of snowshoeing or skiing, visit the Mount Burgess Dining Room at the lodge for a decadent meal featuring a menu of Rocky Mountain cuisine including free-range elk, bison and caribou. And don’t worry if you prefer more traditional dishes as they do serve chicken and seafood as well. They even have a children’s menu should you be traveling as a family.
While the dining room is the only restaurant on site, you can also go into the nearby town of Field where the Truffle Pigs Bistro comes highly recommended. For one night though, you definitely must try the Mount Burgess Dining Room, as it has been voted one of the top hotel restaurants across the world. It’s also hard to beat the proximity of the dining room to your cabin.
Things are quiet at Emerald Lake with no cell coverage or televisions in the rooms, so plan to bring a good book and your swim suit for the incredible outdoor hot tub with a view.
And while the resort ranks high on the romantic scale, the kids are definitely welcome at the resort. You may find it challenging to keep them quiet during dinner at the dining room, but if you’re traveling as a family, you can still visit this amazing place. The snowshoe and cross-country ski trails are very easy for young children and it would be a great destination even for a family day trip.
Other options for exploring from Emerald Lake:
The world-class Lake Louise Ski Resort is located nearby if you want to combine your snowshoe vacation with a day of downhill skiing. Plenty of snowshoe and cross-country skiing opportunities abound at Lake Louise as well as offering enough variety that you could easily spend a week or more in the area. And make sure you bring your skates if you’re going to be at Lake Louise. Few skating rinks offer the view you’ll get outside the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel.
For more information on Emerald Lake Lodge, visit http://www.crmr.com/emerald.
For more information on snowshoe and ski trails in Yoho National Park, visit http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/bc/yoho/activ/pistesdhiver-wintertrails.aspx.
Special thanks to Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts for accommodating our stay at Emerald Lake Lodge. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own and I wasn’t compensated in any other way by CRMR.