Canada’s best and most picturesque lakes


Canada's most picturesque lakes

Canada is known as the land of thousands of lakes and whilst all of them are unique, there are some that stand alone for their beauty.

The azure alpine lakes in Canada are some of the most recognisable in the world and are often talked about in magazines and on social media. Travellers even hike up mountains just to get a glimpse of these truly stunning lakes, but it can be hard to tell the lakes apart. Here we have narrowed down a list of the best and most picturesque lakes in Canada.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is home to some great beaches and with 1000km of shoreline, the deep blue lake is a water lover’s dream.

The beaches at the lake are all easy to access and all vary. The urban neighbourhood beaches around Toronto are a complete contrast to the other remote, sandy beaches that can be found here. In the southwest corner of the lake, fine pebble beaches are set against the backdrop of Niagara’s vineyards and orchards.

At the eastern end of the lake is the world’s largest freshwater sand dune in Prince Edward County.

Gabi, the programme manager for Swim Guide at Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, which is a Canadian charity, says there are a host of things to do at the lake:

“Whether you love bustling city beaches, quaint small towns, or secluded natural shores, you’ll love to swim, drink, and fish in Lake Ontario!”

Best viewpoints: Take the ferry across Lake Ontario for stellar views of downtown Toronto and the Toronto Islands. Once you arrive at the islands just look back over the lake to see Toronto from an entirely new perspective.

Top activities to try there: According to Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, there are tons of activities you can do in the lake itself, “The opportunities to jump into the lake are endless. There is swimming, stand-up-paddle boarding, boating, kayaking, fishing, scuba diving for shipwrecks, and even surfing the winter waves.”

How to get there: If you are travelling from downtown Toronto then you will need to go on the Gardiner Expressway East to Don Valley Parkway North before merging onto Highway 401 East. Then head onto Kingston Road (ON-2 East), turn right onto Port Union Road and left onto Lawrence Avenue to get to Rouge Beach parking lot.

Moraine Lake, Alberta

Moraine Lake in Banff National Park may be just half the size of its nearby neighbour Lake Louise, but it is one of the most recognisable lakes in Canada.

This picturesque lake is found in the Valley of the Ten Peaks and is famed for amazing surroundings and its sapphire-blue water. Come on a still day and the glassy water provides a perfect reflection of the surrounding peaks.

However, Moraine Lake’s turquoise water freezes in winter and usually does not start thawing until June. If you visit the lake in the winter then there are still plenty of interesting photo opportunities for you.

Best viewpoints: The Rockpile Trail offers visitors the best views of Moraine Lake.

Top activities to try there: As one of the most popular natural attractions in Canada, there are a lot of hiking routes to try here and the opportunity to get out in a Canadian canoe.

How to get there: From the Lake Lousie Village, which is located just off the Trans Canada Highway, you need to follow Lake Louise drive and there is an access road for Moraine Lake on the left. Follow this road for around 11 kilometres to the car park.

Garibaldi Lake, British Columbia

This stunning glacier-fed lake is 1,450 metres above sea level. Nestled beside volcanic structures, alpine meadows, glaciers and snow-capped mountains, the location couldn’t be prettier.

The lake was formed when lava flows from the volcanoes of Mount Price and Clinker Peak blocked the ancestral valley, damming the waters of the lake. Now the turquoise colour of the lake – a result of rock flour being suspended in meltwater from the Sphinx and Sentinel Glaciers – attracts thousands of visitors every year.

What’s more, if you hire a car in Canada only takes two hours to drive to the lake from Vancouver, and just 25 minutes from Whistler, which has made it an even more popular attraction.

Best viewpoints: After hiking from Rubble Creek car park, through the forests of Douglas fir trees and the Taylor Meadows you need to cross a wooden bridge that is near to the lake as this will give you magnificent panoramic views.

Top activities to try there: Hiking is the number one activity to try here as there lots of walking trails nearby to the lake such as Black Tusk and Panorama Ridge. The hike to the lake is around 18km roundtrip and takes about five to six hours, but to find out more read our 5 amazing hikes article. There is also the opportunity to go swimming and canoeing.

How to get there: The lake is only accessible by hiking trails and is most commonly accessed from the Rubble Creek parking lot just off the Sea To Sky Highway and is around a one and a half hour drive from downtown Vancouver.

Lake Louise, Alberta

Ranked by CNN as one of the most beautiful places in Canada, Lake Louise is certainly one of the most picturesque lakes in the country.

Banff National Park, which is where the lake is found, is a very special place in its own right, but the jewel in its crown is undeniably Lake Louise.

With the alpine lake’s location at the bottom of a cluster of glacier-clad peaks and its glittering turquoise waters, Lake Louise can unsurprisingly be found pictured on a lot of postcards.

Lake Louise is a hugely popular Canadian ski holiday destination in winter, with three great ski resorts in the area. If you are in the skiing at Lake Louise, Mt Norquay or Sunshine Village then you should certainly make the effort to see the lake itself.

Best viewpoints: Banff and Beyond recommends the canoe boat dock and the outlet stream as great places to take in the beautiful scenery and to take photographs of Lake Louise. The front of the lake is the best place for reflections of Mount Victoria.

Top activities to try there: The lake is around 2.5 kilometres long and roughly 90-metres deep and during summer is the perfect location for visitors to go kayaking or swimming. In winter the lake turns into one of the most spectacular ice skating rinks in the country.

How to get there: To get to Lake Louise, visitors need to head towards Lake Lousie Village and just like driving to Moraine Lake need to follow Lake Louise drive, but instead of turning left to Moraine drivers need to stay on the same road for a few minutes to get to Lake Louise.

Peyto Lake, Alberta

Banff National Park boasts another iconic lake – Peyto Lake. This lake, named after guide Bill Peyto, is located in the stunning Canadian Rockies and is around 1,800 metres above sea level.

The lake is famed for its blue-green colour, made by the light-reflecting properties of the glacial rock flour flowing through the water. It is only 10 minutes uphill from the Icefields Parkway and is therefore very accessible for visitors.

If the pictures seem unbelievable, just wait until you see the lake for yourself. You’ll be gasping with the rest of them at the water’s impossible hues.

Best viewpoints: Hike up to Bow Summit to get a stunning view of the lake. If you don’t fancy a challenging hike then just walk around the lake’s circumference to marvel at its colour.

Top activities to try there: Fishing is popular at Peyto Lake. Before heading to the lake with your fishing gear you will need to check the season, which usually runs from the end of June to October 31st, and buy a national park fishing licence.

How to get there: To get access to Icefields Parkway you will need to drive on the Trans Canada Highway 1, which is just minutes west of Lake Louise. It is around 40 kilometres to drive to Bow Summit where the Peyto Lake Lookout is located.

Berg Lake, British Columbia

Berg Lake can be found in the Mount Robson Provincial Park, part of the rugged Canadian Rockies. It is quite possibly the most spectacular destination in the area as it is nestled beneath Robson’s mighty Emperor Face.

The park where Berg Lake is situated is a UNESCO World Heritage site and is a must-visit destination in itself. Its unspoiled natural beauty really is a sight to see.

The lake is easily accessible through a number of walking trails and visitors should expect to see lots of icebergs, even in the summer!

The lake’s turquoise-coloured water, icebergs and surrounding mountains and glaciers make for some stunning photographs.

Best viewpoints: By walking on the 14 mile Berg Lake Trail you can get some awesome views of the lake and the surrounding area.

Top activities to try there: Horseback riding, swimming, fishing and hiking are all popular pastimes for visitors to the lake.

How to get there: Visitors will need to drive to the Mount Robson Visitor Centre and then hike to Mount Berg. To get to the visitor centre from Vancouver you will need to take the Trans Canada Highway/BC 1 East and BC-5 North to Kinney Lake Road. Continue on Kinney Lake Road and then take the Viewpoint Road, which will lead you to the visitor centre.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake is located in Jasper National Park in Alberta.

It is one of Canada’s most famous lakes and is well-known for the colour of its water, the surrounding glaciers and peaks and Spirit Island, which is commonly photographed.

Just south of Jasper town, the lake is around 14 miles long and over 300 foot deep in the south end of the lake.

The lake was commonly referred to as Beaver Lake by the First Nations and now many people head to the lake to catch a glimpse of its abundance of wildlife. Grizzly and black bears, mule deer, caribou, wolves, moose, and mountain sheep are some of the larger mammals that can be seen, while bald eagles, golden eagles and osprey are frequent visitors.

Best viewpoints: Hanging Valley Viewpoint offers visitors stunning views of the Athabasca Valley.

Top activities to try there: Hiking and wildlife spotting are two very popular activities to try here.

How to get there: According to Banff and Beyond, the scenic Maligne Lake drive is a must. The 46 kilometre drive starts near the town of Jasper and drivers need to take Highway 16 towards Edmonton. You will then need to turn onto Maligne Road until you reach Maligne Lake.


Image Credit: Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, Kimberly Vardeman, Galyna Andrushko, David Veksler, Sheila Sund, Gary Ullah, Jeff P, wildvoid.

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