Stewart Canyon hosts the Cascade River at Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada.
On the drive east from Castle Junction along the TransCanada Highway to the Town of Banff, then north to Lake Minnewanka, there is an iconic viewpoint towards Mount Rundle across Vermilion Lakes.
Lake Minnewanka is a mountain-surrounded, 'S' shaped lake beneath the shadow of mighty Cascade Mountain looming overhead.
Once natural, the lake level and subsequent river flow is now controlled by an earth dam creating a very busy and well-equipped summer recreational facility for marine activities, camping, hiking, mountain biking and fishing.
Stewart Canyon contains the Cascade River flowing from Cascade Mountain into Lake Minnewanka. This is the river which long ago wiped out the coal mining town of Anthracite further downstream.
On excellent, wide trail, the bridge over Stewart Canyon provides outstanding views toward Lake Minnewanka and up into Stewart Canyon.
The trail sign says 0.8 kilometers (½ mile) to Stewart Canyon but this is misleading and represents the one-way distance between the trail-head and the bridge.
In total, from the parking area to the river gorge and back this great little hike is about 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) return overall with negligible elevation.
A more rugged trail continues left from the main trail, along the top, east side of Stewart Canyon. On this day, it appears that deliberately placed dead fall has been placed along the trail to discourage traffic.
Any trail along the top edge of a canyon requires respect and careful attention to footing. Placing obstacles along the trail may increase the chance of injury.
There is nothing which causes a problem and a few easily navigated obstacles increase the enjoyment.
There are many side trails to the canyons edge where people have ventured to obtain photographs of white water at the bottom of the canyon. This hike offers beautiful views and the sound of powerful water.
The trail could be developed with viewing platforms to encourage people to use the trail more safely.
Following about 1.2 kilometers (¾ of a mile) of amazing trail and extraordinary views into the canyon, the trail makes a gracious drop to the river's edge involving minor creek crossings where it is easy to hop over boulders and keep feet dry.
The formidable Cascade River is a pleasant place to enjoy the sun at the shoreline. It is relaxing to close the eyes and absorb the sound of water rushing over rock, punctuated by the sound of birds and gentle breeze through the shiny green leaves unique to spring.
On the return hike, there are outstanding views of midday sun bouncing off the shimmering surface of Lake Minnewanka. The lake is about 10 feet below its normal level in preparation for incoming water from snow melt.
The familiar tiny island with evergreen trees is today a peninsula jutting into Lake Minnewanka.
The finish of the hike provides a wonderful view of Cascade Mountain lording over the Lake Minnewanka recreational complex.
Check out Scuba Diving in Lake Minnewanka. There is an old town under the surface.