This route will take you around Emerald Lake, which is aptly named for its rich green color and excellent reflections of the surrounding mountains. The trip up into Emerald Basin at the base of the The President offers extremely rewarding views of The President, Burgess, and Mt Stephan.
Combining the two trails makes for a great hike offering a lot of variety in a relatively short distance without too much elevation gain.
Bring bear spray with you on hikes in Yoho National Park.
The Emerald Lake Trail
starts at the main parking area for Emerald Lake. You can access it from the parking lot itself near the lodge.
The trail is about halfway down the parking lot on the eastern side. You'll quickly cross a bridge and begin heading southeast towards Peaceful Pond. It is indeed peaceful. Mt Burgess towers over the pond to the south. The trail then travels through some dense forest before it meets Emerald Lake. It follows along the edge of the lake for the next mile or so, offering wonderful opportunities to capture photos of the mountains reflected in the lake when it is still in the morning.
At the northern end of the lake, the trail will head a little ways away from the lake before turning west. You'll cross a river via a nice bridge and meet the trail to Yoho Pass. This trail would lead you to the Iceline Trail
if you took it.
A short ways further, you'll find the Emerald Basin Trail
heading north from the northwest corner of the lake. The Emerald Basin trail sees very few visitors compared to the lake trail. Take this trail as it heads though some scattered pines to the beginning of the basin.
It then climbs rather quickly along a trail that can be a bit steep, but doesn't require any scrambling. The forest at times can be very dense so make some noise in case of bears. Eventually, the trail will level out and continue winding into the basin. When you exit the forest, the views really open up to the impressive President and Vice President mountains in front of you.
Eventually, the trail enters a rock field and more or less disappears. This is a great lunch spot! The views south to Burgess, Mt Stephen, Wapta Mountain and Mt Field are incredible on a clear day.
Head back down the Emerald Basin Trail
back to the Emerald Lake Trail
. At the junction, head south (right) around the western edge of the lake. The trail becomes wider and more accessible for families. Eventually, it will become paved and lined with benches. You'll then finish up the hike at the parking lot again.