| | | |

16 Best Hikes In Banff National Park For Breathtaking Views

One of the best things about Banff National Park is the abundance of hiking trails. With scenery as stunning as Banff, hiking is on many visitors to do list. There are a wide range of hikes in Banff that range in difficulty and scenery. The best hikes in Banff offer views of stunning glacial lakes and incredible mountain vista’s. The average visitor to Banff will be able to find a hike that suits them, whether that be advanced hikers looking for a challenge or a family who want to enjoy the Canadian outdoors. 

Looking For More Canadian Rockies Inspiration? Check Out These Other Posts!

WHAT TO WEAR HIKING IN BANFF?

The hikes suggested in this post are geared toward summer hiking. Generally the hiking season in Banff runs from late May to early October depending on the type of hike and conditions. Even in the height of summer (July and August) the conditions and temperatures can change in a number of minutes. 

The trick is layering. Layering is important when hiking in the Canadian Rockies as temperatures can fluctuate throughout your hike. 

  • Hiking Backpack – While any ol’ backpack might be okay for some hikes, a good hiking day pack such as the Osprey Tempest 20 is a hiking staple that makes carrying water, snacks and camera gear all that much more comfortable. 

  • Hiking Boots/shoes – Not all hikes in Banff will require an expensive brand of hiking boot but on some trails it definitely helps. Depending on which hike you want to do, sturdy runners can suffice. If you are attempting a hike with a lot of elevation I would recommend purchasing hiking shoes or boots. If you need good ankle support, the Salamon X Ultra-3 are amazing as are the Columbia Newton Ridge boots

  • Merino Wool – The best type of fabric to wear when hiking is Merino Wool. Merino Wool is great for keeping you warm and dry. Avoid cotton if possible as it doesn’t dry as quickly as other materials. Smart Wool and Ice Breaker are both great brands for merino wool hiking clothes.

  • Packable Rain Coat – One of the thing’s I have learned from living and hiking in Canada is that it could rain at any moment. Sunny? Could rain. Snowing? Could rain. I love my Columbia rain coat, it’s thin so makes for a great hiking rain coat but also folds up easily so I can pack it away when I get too hot.

  • Cap/Toque – Depending on the weather you may want to pack a toque for windy cold days in the alpine, or a cap if it’s a sunny day.

  • Warm/comfy socks – Never underestimate the power of a comfy pair of hiking socks!

WHAT TO BRING ON YOUR BANFF HIKES

Some of the hikes mentioned in this post are for the more advanced hiker so depending on your level of fitness and hiking experience you may want to invest in good quality hiking gear prior to your trip. Whether you decide to stick to the easy to moderate trails or want to challenge yourself, the ten hiking essentials should always be on your list.

  • Water/Hydration – One of the most important things you will bring on a hike is water. On short hikes I bring a water bottle and on longer hikes I bring the Osprey 2L water bladder. I also bring a Life Straw and water purification tablets in case I need to refill my water at a stream or waterfall. 
  • Sunglasses/Sunscreen – UV & Sun protection is important when hiking, especially on hikes that have little shade or cover. 
  • Navigation – My go to for most hikes is the Alltrails Pro app. The pro version allows you to download maps and access them any time when you are out of cell-service. Although an iPhone is a great resource, technology can be unreliable. Bringing a compass or a printed map is always recommended. 
  • Snacks – What is a hike without snacks? Whether it’s a big or small hike, you can bet I will be bringing snacks. My go to is typically a protein bar like the Clif brand. If it’s an all day hike I’ll bring something more substantial that I’ve made at home. 
  • First Aid Kit – Pre-packaged first aid kits can be purchased from most pharmacies. Or you can put together your own. I like to include the standard bandages, bandaids, pain medication and antibiotic cream but also add things like lip balm which often forget on hikes. 
  • Hiking Poles – Hiking or trekking poles are a god send for your knees on any hike. They also help to stabilize you on steep or narrow trails. 
  • Bear Spray – Although I have had a close bear encounter at the bus stop, I’m fortunate to say I’ve never encountered a bear on any hiking trail. It’s important to remember that this is their home and we are only visitors. Generally if a bear hears you they will not bother you – making noise is the best way to detract a bear (not bear bells!). However a bear encounter is still a possibility when hiking in the backcountry. You can rent or buy bear spray almost anywhere in Banff Town. It’s important to know how to use this before venturing out too – this article is super helpful!  
  • Bug Spray – Mosquitos love me in the summer and I have learned over time to never leave the house without bug spray when hiking. Thankfully in Banff I didn’t experience too many mosquitos but having to endure bug bites while hiking is no fun! I tend to stick with the OFF! Brand of bug spray and find it does the job.
  • Emergency Shelter – It’s easy to get lost even on the most popular hiking trails. I bring an emergency blanket with me on every hike, it’s small and folds easily into one of the pockets in my backpack and barely weighs a thing. They are usually fairly cheap and affordable and I’d highly suggest investing in one. 
  • Fire starter – As with the emergency blanket, a fire starter is another essential to pack on any hike. IT doesn’t have to be fancy, a lighter (check it works before heading out) and some lint or wood chipping’s will do the job! 
  • Headlamp – A headlamp is great if you are planning to do any hikes for sunrise or sunset. It’s also a great backup item to have should you find yourself hiking back in the dark. I use this one from Cabela’s which I love. 
  • Cash – Some hikes in Banff pass by tea houses such as the Plain of Six Glaciers or Lake Agnes. It’s always good to bring cash if you’d like to stop in at one of the tea houses during your hike. 

1) LAKE AGNES TEA HOUSE

The Lake Agnes Tea House is one of the most popular hikes in the Lake Louise area. The Lake Agnes Tea House was built in 1901 and sits on the shores of Lake Agnes. It was built as a refuge for hikers by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and is still welcoming hikers to this day.

The trail to the Lake Agnes Tea House starts at the shores of Lake Louise. The first few km’s are in the forest. As you gain elevation, you will start to see glimpses of Lake Louise’s blue pigments from above. Carry on until you get to Mirror Lake. Mirror Lake is a great mid-way point to sit and have a rest stop. 

Most of the elevation is done by this point, you’ll carry on until you reach a small waterfall – the stairs to the right of this waterfall is your final ascent. You’ll be able to see the log cabin of the tea house just above you. Enjoy stunning views of Lake Agnes once you reach the top. 

Although the hike to Lake Agnes Tea House is considered on the moderate side of difficulty, precautions should still be taken. While the trail is suitable for families, ensure everyone in your party is adequately equipped and meets the required fitness level. 

The tea house is a great hike alone or you can pair it with several hikes in the area including the Big Beehive, Little Beehive and the Devil’s Thumb. Whether you are attempting one of these hikes or not, the tea house is a great place to stop for lunch or to refuel before your descent back down to Lake Louise. 

The Lake Agnes Tea House near Lake Louise, Alberta
The rustic Lake Agnes Tea House

2) THE BIG BEEHIVE

The Big Beehive is a great hiking option for visitors to Banff who want a bit more of a challenge. The Big Beehive is a moderate to hard hike and should only be attempted by those who are properly equipped for this type of hike. 

The trail for the Big Beehive follows the same route as the Lake Agnes Tea House. Once you have reached the Tea House you’ll venture off to the right hand side of Lake Agnes and follow the trail along its shores. You’ll then loop around the back end of the lake where you are greeted by the hardest part of this hike – the switchbacks. 

The switchbacks section of this hike are where a lot of elevation is gained. The trail gets very rocky and narrow at this point, so make sure to take extra care when passing other hikers in the opposite direction. You’ll start to lose sight of Lake Agnes which means you are almost there. 

As soon as you reach the top of the switchbacks it is a short walk to the end of the Big Beehive lookout. This section features several incredible views of Lake Louise so you’ll be sure to find a lookout that you can enjoy by yourself. You’ll know when you’ve reached the official viewpoint as there is a lookout station where you can sit and take a moment to catch your breath.  

Views of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive hike
Views of Lake Louise from the Big Beehive

3) THE DEVIL’S THUMB

Recommended by Ben from Ticket 4 Two Please

Lake Louise is blessed with many incredible hikes, but none are quite as scenic as the challenging Devil’s Thumb hike. 

The 11.9km out-and-back trail features an elevation gain of over 850m, which for a relatively short hike is quite a considerable gain. The trail itself, accessible in the summer months only, begins just to the right (when facing out over the lake) of the world-renowned Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel. 

From the hotel, you take a number of relatively long switchbacks until you eventually reach the Lake Agnes tea house. After stopping for a short tea-break, continue your ascent past the Big Beehive Lookout Point, before eventually joining the Devil’s Thumb trail. 

A brisk walk above the Lake Louise valley ends with a sharp ascent that may require you to be on your hands and knees at times. Don’t panic though, no specific training or equipment is needed for this part. 

Your reward is the astounding view from the Devil’s thumb lookout point – a view of Lake Agnes to the left, Lake Louise to the right, and Lake Louise Ski Hill in the distance. Hiking Devil’s thumb is unquestionably one of the best summer activities in Lake Louise.

Views of Lake Agnes and Lake Louise from the Devil's Thumb hike
Views of Lake Agnes and Lake Louise from the Devil’s Thumb

4) FAIRVIEW LOOKOUT

Recommended by Michelle at The Trav Nav

There are plenty of hikes to choose from when visiting Banff National Park.  However, one of my favorite short hikes is the Mount Fairview Lookout Trail at Lake Louise.  The views of Lake Louise from the top of the Mount Fairview Lookout Trail are spectacular.  What’s even better about this hike is that it’s not much work for an incredible reward. 

If you are driving to the Mount Fairview Lookout Trail, drive to Lake Louise and park in the visitor parking lot.  After you park, head toward the lakeshore at Lake Louise, where you can take in the brilliant color of the lake before heading out on your brief hike. 

The Mount Fairview Lookout trailhead will be on your left before the boathouse.  You will hike about 2.4km and climb 168 meters on the designated path for about 20 minutes.  The steep but short trail keeps you cool as you meander towards the lookout point through the densely covered forest.  You will not see Lake Louise until you reach the viewpoint.

At the top of the Mount Fairview Lookout Trail, you will come to an incredible clearing where you have unobstructed views of Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.  There is a bench in the viewing area where you can sit, relax, and enjoy the views.  This hike can be challenging if you are not in shape because the uphill climb is steep but worth the effort. 

Pro Tip: The trail can become icy or snowy in the fall and winter.  To avoid slipping and sliding, you may want to wear microspikes like Yak Traks over your hiking shoes. 

Statistics:

Difficulty:  Moderate

Distance:  4.8km round trip

Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour

Elevation: 168 meters

Facilities:  Restrooms, parking, canoe rentals (summer)

Views:  Lake Louise, glacier, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

Recommended gear:  microspikes in the fall and winter

Mount Fairview lookout over Lake Louise
Mount Fairview Lookout over Lake Louise

5) PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS

Recommended by Maggie at Pink Caddy Travelogue

Epic views, getting up close and personal to a glacier, and a unique food experience all make Canada’s Plain of Six Glaciers one of the best hiking trails in Banff.

Lake Louise is one of the most iconic places in the Canadian Rockies, and one of the best ways to experience the lake is by hiking to the glacier that feeds it. The Plain of Six Glaciers hike is spectacularly beautiful and rewarding, and an excellent way to escape many of the crowds at Lake Louise.

The 8-mile round-trip hike starts from Lake Louise’s lakeshore, where it meanders for a couple of miles through the pine forests next to the lake. Then it veers off and begins the trek uphill, eventually reaching the “plain of six glaciers,” a moon-like landscape that was carved by, yes, six different glaciers. From here, hikers can look down on Lake Louise and across the valley.

What makes this hike particularly amazing is that it has not one, but two rewards at the end. First, the trail takes hikers to the very foot of Victoria Glacier. Victoria Glacier feeds Lake Louise, and once visitors are this close to it, they can actually hear it “roar” every now and then! The second reward is the tea house, which serves tea, coffee, and delicious soups, sandwiches, and chocolate cakes throughout the summer. (Note: it’s cash only, so make sure to bring some!)

The trail is moderate to strenuous, so only take kids who are up to it, and only the first part around Lake Louise is dog-friendly.

The Plain of Six Glaciers Hike near Lake Louise, Alberta
Plain of Six Glaciers Hike

6) SENTINEL PASS

Recommended by Tijit Mallick from Dog Travel Buff

This is an eye-catching Banff hike with breathtaking views of Lake Moraine, Lake Louise and the Valley of Ten Peaks. Sentinel Pass hike starts at Moraine Lake and climbs through the forest steadily. The round trip distance of this hike is around 11 km. It is a moderate hike that has an elevation gain of 2383 feet.

There are actually two hikes – the Larch Valley hike which is 8.6 km long with an elevation gain of 1755 feet. To get the best views of the lakes and the valley, continue the hike up to Sentinel Pass.

As you continue to climb the trail, enjoy a glimpse of Lake Moraine and the Valley of Ten Peaks through the larch trees. Stop at Minnestimma Lake, an amazing place to stop and rest before continuing the next part of the hike to Sentinel Pass. Once you reach the top of the Sentinel Pass, enjoy the remarkable views of Paradise Valley and snow-capped mountains. You will get the best views of the towering mountains of the Valley of the Ten Peaks while coming down from the Sentinel Pass.

Larch Valley Hike and Sentinel Pass both are dog-friendly trails, but you must keep your dog on leash. It is a moderate hike; if your doggo gets tired carry him in a dog carrier backpack and continue your hike. Fall and Autumn are the best times to hike Sentinel Pass. This is the time when you can see the best color of the larch trees and wildflowers. There is a high presence of grizzly bears in this area. Hikers are allowed to hike this trail only in a group.

Tip: Parking is limited at Moraine Lake. It is recommended to reach there as early as possible to get a parking spot.

Sentinel Pass hike near Moraine Lake, Alberta
Sentinel Pass Hike near Moraine Lake

7) CONSOLATION LAKES

Recommended by Natasha at Planes Trains and Karcz

Nestled amidst Banff’s signature snowy peaks and dense alpine woodland is the Consolation Lakes Trail, a scenic 7.6km out-and-back hike that sees over 329m in elevation gain and takes approximately 2-3 hours to complete.

To reach the Consolation Lakes trailhead – accessible only between the months of May through October – you’ll first need to drive to the parking lot of the esteemed Moraine Lake (word of advice: the parking lot can reach capacity obscenely early in the day, so prepare to arrive no later than 5:30AM during high-season or prepare to take the shuttle!).

The trail begins at the southeast corner of the parking lot and is extremely well-signed and maintained. Follow the natural curvature of the pathway around the renowned rockpile and away from the waterfront, and soon you’ll be traversing across a small boulder field. From there, it’s a steady incline up a wide dirt path virtually all the way to the Consolation Lakes waterfront! 

Note that while this trail is suitable to both beginners and children, it does require some scrambling towards the water’s edge and therefore should only be attempted by hikers whose mobility permits. While leashed dogs are welcome on trail, it’s recommended they do not attempt the Consolation Lakes Trail as there is ample rocky terrain that wouldn’t be entirely paw-friendly. Otherwise, it’s an easy to moderate route that will require no more than the standard Rocky Mountain day hiking equipment, including a Banff Park Pass, trekking poles and bear repellent (as this is known and frequented grizzly territory!). 

The Consolation Lakes Trail is categorized as one of Banff’s best hikes for a reason, so enjoy this picturesque route with all its varying terrain, serene beauty and majestic wildlife! 

Consolation Lakes near Moraine Lake, Alberta
Consolation Lakes located near Moraine Lake

8) TOWER OF BABEL

Recommended by Natasha at Planes Trains and Karcz

The Tower of Babel hike – accessible primarily in the months of June through September – is not for the faint of heart, and is really more of a scramble than it is a hike. Covering approximately 518m of elevation gain over the course of 2.9km makes for an extremely difficult, steep ascent on any trail; yet the Tower of Babel manages to turn it up a notch by consisting solely of loose boulders and scree.

This trail is not recommended for beginners, children or pets and should be attempted only by experienced Rocky Mountain hikers or those accompanied by one. The risk of falling rocks is real, and therefore one of the most essential pieces of equipment along this route is a helmet, as well as trekking poles to aid on the incline, durable hiking boots with good tread for the terrain, and gloves for scrambling over jagged rocks.

You’ll want to stick to the right side of the gully on the ascent, and the left side on the descent (effectively against the same wall both ways), as there is more cover from falling rocks and it provides something to hold onto for better support. Of course, do your part and be vocal to the hikers below and behind you when you see or cause a falling rock, as to avoid injury or worse. 

Upon reaching the top of the gully (which, admittedly, involves some route-finding as there is no definite path), follow the ridge left to the viewing “platform” known as the Tower of Babel. Ensure to pack modular layers as the weather at this altitude is known to be significantly cooler than that at the trailhead, and take in the truly breathtaking 360° views that overlook the infamous Moraine Lake, the Consolation Lakes and Larch Valley. 

View from the Tower of Babel at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake from the Towel of Babel
The Tower of Babel in Moraine Lake, Banff
Tower of Babel

9) BOW FALLS VIEWPOINT

Recommended by Emilie at Love Life Abroad

If you are looking for an easy, yet beautiful hike near downtown Banff, the Bow Falls Viewpoint trail is your trail. This hike is accessible for all levels, from toddlers to adults. But because there are stairs, it can’t accommodate strollers or wheelchairs. 

The trail is open all year round. If you are visiting Banff in the winter, make sure to bring spikes to avoid any bad incidents on ice. The trail can be really icy in the winter.

The Bow Falls Viewpoint trail starts at the base of the Bow River pedestrian bridge just outside downtown Banff. It follows the river on a relatively flat path. Near the end of the trail, there are some sets of stairs to go at the base of the waterfalls. At the base, there is a parking lot and some viewpoints. 

It’s a short 2.7 kilometers out-and-back hike with a minimal elevation of 66 meters.

If you are in a hurry, or if the trail is too slippery in the winter, you can drive to the Bow Falls Viewpoint and park there. Then it’s a super short walk to have a view of the waterfalls. 

Take your time to enjoy the view and the scenery around you. But it’s important to know that it’s a busy path, especially in the weekend and summer vacations.

Bow Falls Lookout, Banff National Park.
Bow Falls Lookout

10) JOHNSTON CANYON

Recommended by Jessica at Uprooted Traveler

Johnston Canyon to Lower Falls is the perfect hike in Banff for beginners and families. With an approachable distance of just 2.2 km and an elevation gain of 105 meters, hikers of any skill level can enjoy this unique trail (including wheelchair hikers!).

You’ll start the hike in a lush pine-tree forest and eventually make your way into a narrow canyon, with walls towering above. Here, you’ll climb along a metal catwalk bolted directly into the canyon walls, hovering over a blue river rushing below. Along the way, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to take in the small waterfalls, rapids, and dramatic cliffs tucked in the canyon.

Eventually, you’ll reach a fork that either takes you to the Lower or Upper Falls. Following the signs to the Lower Falls, you’ll have the opportunity to take in the 9 meter tall cascading falls from a viewpoint and even step into a small cave that will take you directly in front of the curtain of the falls. Careful, though- you’ll definitely get wet here! If you’re feeling ambitious, you can continue on an additional 2.8 km to the Upper Falls, a dramatic 40-meter waterfall plunging into a steep gorge.

This trail is open year round, although beginner hikers should aim to visit in the spring, summer, or fall. Come winter, this trail is an excellent place for ice walking and ice climbing- if you’re unfamiliar with either, it’s best to go with a guide. So whether you’re new to hiking or looking to ice climb your first waterfall, Johnston Canyon is the perfect trail to visit while enjoying the Canadian Rockies.

Johnston Canyon Hike in Banff, Alberta
Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park

11) TUNNEL MOUNTAIN

Recommended by Campbell & Alya at Stingy Nomads

The beautiful Tunnel Mountain hiking trail is a popular hiking route from Banff town. Tunnel mountain is the smallest peak overlooking Banff and not a very difficult summit with an elevation gain of  300m. Look out points offer picturesque views of the valley and nice panoramas over the town of Banff when you start climbing above the treeline.

There are some nice views of the Bow River and Mount Rundle.The return hike takes 1.5 to 2 hours and is suitable for hikers of a moderate fitness level. The other name of the mountain is ‘Sleeping Buffalo mountain’ since that is what the shape of the mountain resembles when viewed from afar. Two red Parks Canada chairs at the summit is a good photo spot with a view and a great place to take a break and enjoy the scenery before heading back down.

The trail can be hiked all year round, but ice cleats are recommended in winter when the trail can be frozen and very slippery. To reach the trailhead of the Tunnel Mountain trail from town by public transport, take Roam route #1 and get off at the trailhead. It is possible to reach the trail by walking from town and takes about 15 minutes each way.

Viewpoint from the Tunnel Mountain hike in Banff National Park
Views of Banff from the Tunnel Mountain Hike

12) CORY PASS LOOP VIA EDITH PASS

Recommended by Melody at The Winding Road Tripper

Length: 13 kilometers

Elevation Gain: 915 meters

Difficulty: Difficult

Dog Friendly: Yes

Season: June – October

If you are looking for a challenging hike with fewer crowds, then Cory Pass may be the hike you are looking for. This hike will test your endurance from the start, but the beautiful scenery will make it all worth your effort. 

The Cory Pass trailhead is located in the Banff area of the park at the Fireside day-use area. 

Right from the get-go, this hike will get your heart pumping. There is a lot of elevation gain to cover on this hike and after a flat first 0.8km you’ll start the trek up with a steep incline. But don’t worry, the elevation grade lowers after a while and the hike gets a little easier. 

A favorite part of this hike is the different landscapes and sweeping views you’ll experience. And after completing this hike, you’ll feel like you just did three separate hikes in three totally different environments. 

The hike is a challenge and recommended for experienced hikers. Poles are not necessary but recommended. 

On your way to Cory Pass, there are sections of rock scrambling along a cliff. Therefore, this hike is not recommended for people afraid of heights. But it will for sure be an adventure for thrill-seekers. 

One of the most challenging areas of this hike is the scree you’ll face as you continue past Cory Pass into Gargoyle Valley. It’s fun “skiing” down the scree but maintaining control and balance is key for a safe descent. 

Cory Pass is an amazing hike for those up for the challenge. 

Cory Pass Loop, Banff National Park.
Cory Pass Loop
Cory Pass hike in Banff, Alberta

13) GRASSI LAKES

Recommended by Bailey at Destinationless Travel

Grassi Lakes is an easy hike with incredible views. Located around a 30-minute drive from Banff town, Grassi Lakes is easily one of the best hikes in the Canmore area with a well-maintained path up to the stunning lakes. 

To get to the trailhead, drive up the Smith Dorrien Trail out of Canmore for about 5 minutes. There is a large parking lot here, that although has space for plenty of cars, will get completely full sometimes (especially during the weekends in the summer months.) To ensure you get a space, leave early first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon once most people have left. 

About 100 meters into the hike you’ll come to a fork in the trail where you can choose which trail you want to take to Grassi Lakes – the “Grassi Lakes Upper Trail” or the “Grassi Lakes Interpretive Trail.” 

The Upper Trail is the easier one which is recommended for those with children. It is also the only trail that is open in the winter months. The more difficult trail is the Interpretive Trail which is also more beautiful since it takes you past a waterfall. It is more challenging because the trail in narrower and involves climbing over some rocks, whereas the easier trail is actually on an old gravel road. Both trails are about the same distance at 4 kilometers return, gaining about 125 meters in elevation. 

Once you’ve made it to Grassi Lakes you’ll be impressed with the stunning bright-green lakes and towering cliff faces all around you. Even in the winter months, the lakes don’t completely freeze keeping their beautiful color. 

Grassi Lakes hike in Canmore, Alberta
Grassi Lakes in Canmore, Alberta

14) EAST END OF RUNDLE

Recommended by Emily at The Mandagies

The East End of Rundle Hike (often nicknamed EEOR for short) is a hiking trail located in the Bow Valley of Canmore, Alberta, just south of Banff. The trail is strenuous, but if you reach the top, hikers are rewarded with sweeping views of the Canadian Rockies and valley below!

The trailhead shares the same parking lots with Ha Ling Peak Trailhead, which is 15 minutes outside of Canmore. The parking lot can be easily missed, as it’s just a simple dirt pullout with no official signs that mark the trail. Keep your eyes peeled for a cluster of rocks spelling out the letters “EEOR” on the ground across the road where you should park your car to know you’ve reached the right place.

The trail is deceptively short in distance (at just 5.8 kilometers out and back) in comparison to other hikes in Banff, but the elevation gain of 870 meters makes it much more difficult than you’d expect. Therefore, serious hikers only – kids and dogs won’t do well on this trail!

This Banff hike is famous for its iconic views that overlook Ha Ling Peak and Whiteman’s Reservoir across the valley. This iconic overlook is about halfway up the trail and often serves as a turnaround point for most visitors. However, if you choose to hike the entire way, you are rewarded with panoramic views of the Bow Valley, and incredible opportunities for landscape images!

EEOR hike or East End of Rundle in Canmore, Alberta
Views of Canmore from the EEOR hike

15) PARKER RIDGE

Recommended by Michelle at The Wandering Queen

One of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies is Parker Ridge, and it is located on the famous Icefields Parkway. The trailhead is right off the highway between the Athabasca Glacier and the Saskatchewan River Crossing. The trail is around 2.7 km one way and is approximately 250 meters of elevation gain. The trail is moderate and can be completed with kids, just take your time and bring plenty of water and food. There is not much tree coverage. 

The trail consists of many switchbacks that seem to go on forever on the side of the mountain. But once you are at the top and hike to the other side of the mountain, that is when you see all of the glorious views that include the Saskatchewan Glacier, Mt Athabasca, Hilda Peak, Nigel Peak, and Castleguard Mountain.

The views are breathtaking and feature some of the highest peaks in Alberta. You can sit down and take in the views of the Saskatchewan Glacier while you eat lunch, or you can keep on hiking south on the ridge. There are plenty of places to take photos. Make sure to watch out for golden eagles, hawks, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats on the cliffs below.

View from Parker Ridge hike in Banff
Views of the Saskatchewan Glacier on the Parker Ridge hike

16) WILCOX PASS

Recommended by Lotte at Phenomenal Globe Travel Globe

How to get there: the parking area is across Wilcox Creek Campground. You need your own wheels to get there.  

Round trip length: 8km (it’s an out and back trail) 

Elevation gain: 400m 

Difficulty: moderate 

Good for kids: it’s too far for little kids to walk on their own (bring a baby carrier) but kids aged 8+ who like hiking should be able to do this trail.  

Dog friendly: your furry friend can come along but will need to stay on his leash.  

What season: while you can tackle this hike year-round, the best time is once most of the snow has melted. From June-September the trail is generally (almost) snow free and you don’t need any specific winter equipment. 

Any specific equipment needed: it depends on the season. During winter, you’ll need snowshoes for the section in the alpine meadow. For all the other seasons there are no special requirements, though as always: wear sturdy hiking boots, layer up and bring a rain coat to prepare yourself for changeable weather.   

About the hike: this wonderful trail leads up to an alpine meadow with splendid views of the Athabasca Glacier. Overall, it’s a relatively easy hike that’s well signposted. The first section is a fairly steep climb to a pair of a set of the iconic Parks Canada red chairs. Take a rest, admire the view and continue on the trail until you reach Wilcox Pass.  

During spring and summer, the alpine meadow is usually covered in beautiful wildflowers. The views here are breathtaking but it can get windy to bring a jacket. If you’re lucky you may spot a few bighorn sheep or elks. Altogether, Wilcox Pass is one of the best hikes in the area and that should feature on any Canadian Rockies itinerary

Wilcox Pass Hike in Banff National Park
Views from the Wilcox Pass hike

FREE PRINTABLE DAY HIKE PACKING LIST

Get this packing list straight to your inbox and more by subscribing to the newsletter. This free printable will help prepare you for all those day hike adventures ahead!

    We respect your privacy. Unsubscribe at any time.

    Click A Pin Below To Save For Later!

    Best Hikes in Banff National Park
    Best Hikes In Banff

    Similar Posts

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.