Choosing a dozen great day hikes from hundreds of possibilities in Banff National Park is somewhat akin to choosing which fish in the barrel one would prefer to shoot.
The following day hikes are among the best in Banff National Park. They range from relatively easy to somewhat aggressive based on skill set and experience. More aggressive hikes are plentiful, as well as multiple-day, backpacking missions, and will be readily identified in popular hiking guides. Always check in with Parks Canada for current conditions and potential restrictions. Click on the red links below to reference the relevant blog post.
1. Larch Valley
The hike from Moraine Lake, near Lake Louise Village, through Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass, wedged between Pinnacle Mountain and Mount Temple for the spectacular view into Paradise Valley, is one of the most popular in Banff National Park. WOW! The Larch Valley hike is most popular, and crowded, in the third week of September when larch trees reach their peak in the transition from green to gold.
2. Eiffel Lakes
The hike to Eiffel Lakes is a left turn at the fork where the Larch Valley trail junction, and the bench, occupy the top of the uphill hike from Moraine Lake. The Eiffel Lakes hike is spectacular and easy above Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks. There is an outstanding extension past Eiffel Lakes which passes through a fascinating area of massive boulders and beyond over the long, rocky ramp to Wenkchemna Pass and inspiring vistas beyond.
Bourgeau Lake is a small and pristine sub-alpine lake surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain summits. From Bourgeau Lake there is an option to continue beyond the lake and up past spectacular waterfalls and ‘the notch’ to spectacular, sweeping vistas from Harvey Pass. For the truly masochistic, an additional option from Harvey Pass provides the opportunity to bag two summits on the same day prior to returning to the trail-head via the same route taken.
The hike to Bow Glacier Falls from Bow Lake at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada is an ethereal experience through diverse and fascinating terrain on the approach along river, and past canyons and ancient glacial moraines to the waterfalls emanating from the Bow Glacier. Spectacular hiking!
The trail-head for Chephren Lake resides near the entrance to Waterfowl Lake along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. Nearby, the slightly more rugged and equally spectacular hike to Cirque Lake can be achieved on the same day for a full day of incredible hiking experience within Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada along one of the greatest and breathtakingly scenic rides on the planet.
The popular hike to Consolation Lakes begins from the Moraine Lake parking area above Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The well-maintained trail offers a wide variety of terrain beneath the close proximity of majestic, glaciated, towering mountains. The first Consolation Lake is surrounded by massive fields of talus and scree. Access to the second Consolation Lake, at the far end, requires quality hiking footwear and is a bit more adventuresome along the far side of the first lake. Near the trail-head there is an option to visit the forever-memorable views of Moraine Lake in the Valley of the Ten Peaks from the lookout atop The Rockpile.
The classic view of the Plain of Six Glaciers from Chateau Lake Louise is world renowned. To view this terrain up close and personal is an awesome experience. The glaciated mountains and rugged scree fields, where white rivers loaded with glacial dust feed the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, are accessible by well-maintained trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. From the tea house the trail to the base of the glaciers is short but more rustic with mild exposure and the need for warmer clothing.
Parking for the hike to Helen Lake is opposite the viewpoint for Crowfoot Glacier along the Icefields Parkway a short distance south of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge on the shore of Bow Lake in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. This popular and scenic hike offers a wide variety of rugged Rocky Mountain scenery and multiple options for exploring higher elevations.
Johnston Canyon is a popular year round hiking and ice climbing destination along Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) between Lake Louise and Castle Junction. The popular Banff National Park attraction hosts its own accommodation at Johnston Canyon Resort. There are two major waterfalls and several minor falls and rapids along the narrow, picturesque canyon where the walkway is often metal ramp bolted onto the canyon wall. The Johnston Canyon hike is an amazing experience, in short distance and minor elevation, within the capability of most people. There is an option to continue further to the Ink Pots and the incredible mountain views which surround the colorful spring-fed ponds.
The Lake Agnes Teahouse is a world-renowned attraction on the shore of picturesque Lake Agnes above Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. The moderately inclined trail gains elevation through forest past Mirror Lake at the base of Big Beehive prior to a series of stairs leading to the teahouse and the magnificent, crystal-clear waters of Lake Agnes surrounded by dramatic towering mountain peaks. The scenery is indelibly memorable.
The hike to Rockbound Lake begins near Castle Mountain Chalets on the other side of Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A) between Castle Junction and Lake Louise. The evenly graded trail delivers hikers to pristine, emerald Tower Lake before a short stiff uphill climb to Rockbound Lake beneath majestic cliffs of Castle Mountain. For a longer day the hike can continue on a circuit around and above Rockbound Lake prior to returning via the same route taken.
Parker Ridge is one of the shortest hikes to ascend from forest into alpine terrain from the Icefields Parkway north of Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. Year round, warm layers will be required to enjoy the magnificent, breathtaking views of Saskatchewan Glacier emanating from the Columbia Icefield where the delineation point along the Icefields Parkway occurs between Banff National Park and Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada.
Viewing the rugged valley which contains the winding 5+ kilometer (3.2 mile +) long glacier from the top of the breezy ridge is a forever memorable experience. There are many more short, scenic and world class hiking options in the immediate area.
This collection of hikes is a mere sampling of magnificent natural treasures within Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada. There are wilderness opportunities for everyone at all skill and experience levels as well as a plethora of more touristy options.
Shopping opportunities, a wide range of accommodation from camping to luxury hotels and fine dining opportunities complement additional alternatives at more urban centers in Calgary, Canmore, the Town of Banff, Lake Louise Village and the Municipality of Jasper.
Banff National Park is a world-class travel opportunity every person should experience at least once within a lifetime.