The Sawback Trail follows the rugged Sawback Range from the town of Banff to Lake Louise over a distance of 74km (about 45 miles). Side trips will increase the distance. The trail is rated moderate to challenging.
On Day 9 the hike leaves the Baker Lake Campground (Sk11) at about the 59.9 km mark to head for the Skoki Lodgecovering a distance of about 6.4km to the 60.3 km mark. Skoki is a Potawatomi (Ojibwa) word meaning "swamp".*
[104-Baker Lake trail - cougar track - click to enlarge]
The trail follows the north edge of Baker Lake (2210m) then climbs to the Ptarmigan Valley where Ptarmigan Lake is situated. Ptarmigan Lake (2345m) is a large sized backcountry lake with Brook Trout and Cutthroat Trout. It is located at the top of Boulder Pass underneath the northern slope of Mount Redoubt.
[105-Affectionate marmots - click to enlarge]
At the trail junction (1680m) with the Boulder Pass-Skoki Valley trail the distance from Baker Lake is 1.3km at the 62.1km mark.
[106-Descending to Ptarmigan Lake with Redoubt Mountain 2902m (9521ft) in background. Redoubt Mountain was named by Arthur O. Wheeler in 1908 for the resemblance of a huge redoubt, or military outer defence.**]
The fish in Ptarmigan Lake are predominately Brook Trout that are considered frisky.
[107-Redoubt Mountain's north face]
Here the hiker will turn right to make the steep climb of 0.6 km to Deception Pass.
[108-View from Deception Pass]
From Deception Pass (2375m) the trail descends into the Skoki Valley heading north, over rocky slopes, alpine larch forests into thicker forest. Skoki Lodge (2165m) is 3.4 km beyond the pass.
[109-Skoki Valley was named by James F Porter in 1911** - click to enlarge]
Follow the trail to a junction where the trail veers left after crossing a creek.
[110-Skoki Trail bridge crossing]
Stay on the trail going straight to continue on to the Skoki Lodge. In another 0.6km there is an intersection for the Red Deer Lakes. Stay to the left for the Skoki Valley where in another 0.5km the hiker will reach the main lodge, and the other buildings behind.
[111-Skoki Lodge is a National Historic Site built in 1930 by a group of Banff ski enthusiasts. It was enlarged to its present size in 1936 and continues to serve hikers and skiers throughout the year. Pack horses bring in supplies throughout the summer season.]
Tom Wilson (formerly with the NWMP) opened the first guide service in the Rockies after his contract as surveyor for the Canadian Pacific Railway was over. He guided Europeans and Americans on hunting, climbing and exploration trips into the wilderness areas between Jasper and Banff. He was the first guide to show adventurers into the Skoki and Baker Lake areas.