Skoki loop variation in August - ClubTread Community

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post #1 of (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 05:28 PM Thread Starter
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Default Skoki loop variation in August

Hi rugged outdoors people

I've planned a Skoki loop to do with some visiting family. I've never been to Alberta and don't know the terrain but I booked the best loop I could based on the limited campsite availability. It looks like this:
Day 1: Fish Creek to Merlin: 16km
Day 2: Merlin to wildflower: 14.5km
Day 3: wildflower to Luellen: 16.7km
Day 4: Luellen to Mystic 18.1km
Day 5: Finish at Moose Meadows Parking lot or Cascade Ampitheatre trailhead

Distances are rough based on open street maps.

I'd love it if someone who knows the area could give me some advice.

* Which spot would be a better place to finish on the final day
* How's the hitchiking? Any chance I'd be able to hitch a ride from the finish and make my way back to fish creek and my car? Otherwise is there a taxi service available I could use?

How does this route look?

I'm hoping very hard that we don't get smoked out...

Thanks!
Daniel
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post #2 of (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 10:00 PM
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Thats fairly ambitious. Overall experience will depend on weather. Couple of comments:


1) Reverse the order. Skoki area is by far the most scenic part of the route, and you want to leave best for last not the other way around
2) Start at Moose Meadows. Forty Mile creek is not very exciting
3) I'd ditch Mystic completely. That side can be very boggy. Badger Pass can be explored as side trip from Badger Pass junction with light pack. Use extra time to explore Skoki. Include Red Deer Lakes

4) Wildflower is not particularly nice campground. See if you can get Baker Lake instead

5) Leave the car at Fish Lakes, then simply cycle down to Moose Meadows & stash bike on day 1 (Another reason Moose Meadows is better than Norquay). That way you have the car when you finish the hike; simply drive and pick-up the bike.



So alternate itinerary would be:


Moose Meadows - Luellen Lake - Badger Pass Junction - Pulsatilla Pass and Lake - Baker Lake - Red Deer Lakes - Merlin Meadows - Skoki Lakes - Packer Pass - Fish Creek




Camps: Luellen - Badger Pass - Baker Lake - Red Deer Lakes (Luellen - Badger and Baker - Red Deer are short days, which allows most of the day for exploration with light pack)


Baker Lake environs, to entice you to spend night there instead of wildflower:





Red Deer Lakes Environs
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post #3 of (permalink) Old 07-01-2019, 10:00 PM
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Moose Meadows trailhead is on the 1A Hwy., so if you end there hitching is the only way back to Lake Louise. There is (was) a campground about 10 km past Mystic camp, that is about 8 km from the Cascade Amphitheatre trailhead (Mt. Norquay Ski Area), so if you could camp there instead of Mystic, it would be a short hike to the trailhead. You could probably beg a ride (or call a taxi) from there to Banff, and take a Greyhound or Brewster bus to L.Louise, and walk (or taxi) up to Fish Creek. Hitching requires the least planning, but wait times are unpredictable.
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post #4 of (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 02:30 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JHector View Post
Moose Meadows trailhead is on the 1A Hwy., so if you end there hitching is the only way back to Lake Louise.
That might or might not be true. But once again bicycle solves all these issues. And reverse direction (ending at Louise) is far better option.
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post #5 of (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 04:29 AM Thread Starter
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Hey zeljkok
Thanks so much for that detailed answer! Incredibly helpful. The pictures really sell the places. There's so much to do in the area it's hard to make choices just from the map.

I've rebooked as you suggested with a small change.
Luellen - Badger Pass - Wildflower - Red Deer Lakes
Gives us a bit less walking too. And our biggest day can be done with an empty pack.

The secret about baker lake is obviously out... Place is booked up! Doesn't help that they have such strange rules.
Max 1 tent per tent pad and max 4 people per tent pad. Why do they care if we put on 2 small 2 man tents.
In fact... Do they enforce that to the letter?

Last edited by klipspringer; 07-02-2019 at 04:29 AM. Reason: typos
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post #6 of (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 02:22 PM
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Parks don't have staff to enforce things in back-country. I know people that wild camp (off campsites) without even having back-country permits. I don't see what is the issue with 2 small tents on large pad (as long as you paid for the pad!). That being said, you are still technically breaking the rules, so it is your call.


Baker Lake i.e. what is on pic above is just short distance from valley trail, so you can make it your lunch spot then. Circle around to other side (opposite campground) and you will fantastic views and solitude for your lunch.


Looking again at the schedule, 2nd day is only 5km. Idea was to have some rest after long-ish 1st day with heavy pack + time to day-hike to Badger Pass in the afternoon. But now since you can't camp @ Baker and must use Wildflower, you could do Luellen - Wildflower on 2nd day. This is ~15km I think and not so bad. Obviously you'd not be able to explore Badger Pass, but that would free an extra day for Skoki which is by far the most scenic part of whole thing. Your 4th day could be then Red Deer Lakes - Merlin Meadows (very short day) which allows tons of extra time for day hikes and shortens last day as well. Merlin Lake, which is out of this world, would be one idea ~4 hrs return from campsite @ Merlin Meadows



Last yr I camped at Baker and then had short hike to Red Deer Lakes which left me whole afternoon to explore after setting up camp & having lunch; made trip to this neat little waterfall (3-4 hrs return from campground); not too many people get to see this one either




More details about Merlin Lake are here, and Red Deer Lakes here

Last edited by zeljkok; 07-02-2019 at 02:27 PM.
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post #7 of (permalink) Old 07-02-2019, 07:58 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks again for all the help. I really appreciate it! I hope we get as lucky with the weather as you clearly were based on those photos.
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post #8 of (permalink) Old 07-15-2019, 01:12 PM
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There's a bus from Banff to Johnston Canyon and one going to Lake Louise (and a third one that stops at Johnston Canyon on the way to Lake Louise). You can walk from either stop to the trailheads.
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post #9 of (permalink) Old 08-12-2019, 01:38 PM Thread Starter
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One more question it didn't occur to me to confirm. Do all the campsites have some sort of bear cache or pulley system for keeping food or is it up to each party to take rope for hanging or bear canisters?
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post #10 of (permalink) Old 08-17-2019, 02:29 AM
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I would count on cables at every site.
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