Fenland Trail is an easy hike in the Town of Banff, Banff National Park, Alberta.
Significant recovery effort by trail crews and volunteers following the June 2013 flood event has revived the popular Fenland Trail near Vermilion Lakes at the west perimeter of the Town of Banff in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
The entrance to the small parking and picnic area is located near the Norquay exit into the Town of Banff just south from the TransCanada Highway. The trail-head for the 2.1 KM (1⅜ mile) Fenland Trail loop is obvious near the kiosk which provides a layout map and interpretive brochures in French and English.
Turning left at the trail intersection past the first bridge over the canal will correctly sequence the eight artistic interpretive markers with explanations provided by the brochure available at the entrance kiosk.
The June 2013 flood event caused significant damage throughout the dense, old growth forest areas. Throughout the circuitous route, surrounding forest is punctuated with discreet areas of 'bumpy' marshland. The bumps or mounds, called 'fens', create excellent breeding grounds for insects as well as nesting areas for birds. These unique zones promote their own self-sustaining ecosystems.
The still, clear water in the canal is interrupted by collapsing trees. Flood water has widened and undercut the banks of the canal. Ongoing erosion of riverbanks throughout the flood zone continues to compromise river banks and trees will continue to collapse into the water for many years to come. Thriving populations of beaver are thinning forests and building dams along riverbanks
There is great beauty within the disarray of destruction. The entire short loop has been cleared to provide wide, good path with virtually no elevation differential. Small bridges provide passage over the small channels which provide nourishing water to the wetlands.
Along the loop there are peripheral bridges over the canal which provide passage to the Town of Banff and the Vermilion Lakes, so the experience along the Fenland Trail can be extended substantially.
The Fenland Trail is a short, easy and impressive wilderness hike through forest and marshland with the added benefit of close proximity to picnic grounds, washroom facilities and urban resources with links to hundreds of kilometers of diverse trail around and near the Town of Banff. There is a plethora of hiking opportunity, or a nice day can be spent at the easily accessible Fenland Trail combined with a picnic in the park. In this tiny area, the magnificence is in the detail and diversity.