Ah, Shadow Lake Lodge... a great way to experience the Banff backcountry with an unusual level of comfort for such a spectacular, remote location!
We rented mountain bikes in Banff and rode the first 10k up along Redearth Creek. The ascent is steep at times and would probably be considered strenuous by an inexperienced biker. Deep forest and rushing creek scenery, with occasional peak views. Saw eight or nine sets of bear scat along the way, with a few muddy stretches, and hiked the last 2.5k up. Germaine - the concierge, chef, guide and hostess - gave us a warm welcome with an amazing spread set out for tea. The staff is eager to please and quick with information and recommendations.
The dining is impressive at the Lodge; one evening we had Alberta beef tenderloin in a cognac-peppercorn sauce, with potato-leek soup, sun-dried tomato bread, spinach/strawberry salad, roasted peppers and broccoli, smashed potatoes, and chocolate cake for dessert. A great way to power up after a long day burning energy on the trail. Bottles of wine were $42 - same as you'd pay in a regular hotel, but these were hauled up to 6,000 feet for you. Vegetarian, glucose-free and lactose-intolerant guests were there at the same time, and were graciously accommodated with delicious-looking options.
Dining is communal so you get to know the other guests, which during our visit were a lively, diverse mix from as nearby as Canmore or as far away as the Netherlands and Russia.
There are several day hikes to choose from, ranging from meadow walks to high-elevation scrambling; you can set your own pace. You make your own sandwich after breakfast and take fresh fruit, cookies and energy mix to lunch on the trail while you're out. We did about 30 clicks in three days, with an amazing hot shower at each day's end.
Forget about updating your Facebook status, checking email, sending text messages or anything like that - Shadow Lake Lodge is a place to clear your mind and untether yourself from technology.
Tips... bring two or three times more insect repellent than seems reasonable: swarms of aggressive mosquitoes were out in full force at almost every location. If you want to take a dip in the crystal clear and cold waters of Shadow Lake, bring water shoes, as the rocks are sharp. The Lodge does not offer spirits for sale, but you can pack them in and prepare mixed drinks in your own cabin. Available mixers are lemonade, water and ice tea.
How could it be better? Kayaks to take out on Shadow Lake would be great, although there may be an environmental or liability reason they can't do that. There's still plenty on land to keep you busy for at least a few days. Yoga and massage services would be a nice addition for those who're interested.
Overall: Shadow Lake Lodge is a great place to get away, exercise your body and relax your mind while enjoying the beautiful setting of the Canadian Rockies.
Request Pilot cabin - the closest cabin to the communal lounge area, bathroom/shower hut and dining...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.