If you’re prepared to lace up your hiking boots for a true mountain experience, consider spending time at Skoki Lodge (403/522-1347 or 888/997-5654, mid-June to early Oct. and late Dec. to mid-April), a historic lodge in the backcountry east of Lake Louise. Getting to Skoki requires an 11-kilometre (6.8-mile) hike or ski, depending on the season. The lodge is an excellent base for exploring nearby valleys and mountains. Skoki Lodge comprises a main building with a dining and lounge area, kitchen, and upstairs guest rooms. Accommodations are rustic—propane heat but no electricity—but comfortable, with mostly twin beds in the main lodge and cabins that sleep up to five. The lodge has no electricity or flush toilets (although one was flown in especially for the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge who stayed overnight in July 2011). Rates include three meals daily, including a packed lunch. The dining room and lounge centre on a wood-burning fire, where guests come together each evening to swap tales from the trail and mingle with the convivial managers.
Skoki Lodge History
In the fall of 1930, Banff locals Cliff White and Cyril Paris constructed a small log cabin in Skoki Valley, hoping to entice adventurous skiers to its remote location east of Lake Louise. In 1932, a kitchen was added to the main building and two additional cabins were built beside the original, as well as a third cabin halfway between the Lake Louise Railway Station and Skoki. To help offset their costs, the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies was formed and lifetime memberships were offered for $25. The level of interest was not as high as expected leading to Cliff White’s younger brother Peter Whyte (who changed his name from the family spelling) and his wife Catharine agreeing to pay off the club’s debts in return for the remaining shares. One of the lodge’s earliest visitors was Norman Watson, an eccentric but wealthy Englishman. Watson purchased enough shares in the ski club to pay for the expansion of the lodge, but also to take a controlling interest. In the 1940s, when the first lifts at began running at what is now Lake Louise Ski Resort, the focus for most winter visitors shifted away from Skoki. Since Watson’s investment in the late 1930s, ownership of Skoki has been affiliated with Lake Louise Ski Resort.
Hiking to Skoki Lodge
The trailhead for Skoki Lodge is the Fish Creek parking area, signposted along the road up to Lake Louise Ski Resort. From this point, it’s 14.4 kilometres/8.9 miles one-way to the lodge. Lodge guests get a lift in a shuttle bus for the first four kilometres (2.5 miles) of the route, which is a gravel road used by the resort to access chairlifts. From the shuttle drop-off point, the trail climbs to Boulder Pass, passing a campground and Halfway Hut, above Corral Creek. The pass harbours a large population of pikas and marmots. The trail then follows the north shore of Ptarmigan Lake before climbing again to Deception Pass, named for its false summit. It then descends into Skoki Valley, with views of the distant Skoki Lakes and eventually reaching Skoki Lodge.
Skoki Lodge Bookings
You can book up to one year in advance through the lodge website: Skoki Lodge or by calling (403) 522-1347 or (888) 997-5654. The lodge fills quickly when reservations do open, so you should reserve as far in advance, especially for July, August, and September.
The rooms in the main building are comfortable and welcoming, but can be noisy, so it’s well worth paying the extra for a cabin if they are available.
Skoki Lodge has a minimum two-night stay for advance reservations. If any single nights are available, these are sold off a couple of weeks in advance, so check the online calendar too if there are any coming up. Skoki Lodge has a fairly strict cancellation policy, so read up before committing. Guests are sent check-in and shuttle information upon confirmation of their reservation.