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35 BEST Hikes in Banff (ranked from Easy to Hard)

35 BEST Hikes in Banff (ranked from Easy to Hard)

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Banff is world-renowned for its epic scenery and spectacular mountain views, so it should come as no surprise that there are some amazing hikes in and around this national park. Hiking in and around Banff will show you the true beauty of the Canadian Rockies, and the best part is that there are a ton of easy routes on offer for the whole family to enjoy!

Hiking in Banff doesn’t have to mean packing a tent and heading out on the trail for days at a time. That’s right, there are plenty of breathtaking hikes that only take a couple of hours (or less) and can be tackled by pretty much anyone. You really don’t have to be a pro hiker to get to the turquoise lakes and jaw-dropping viewpoints that Banff has to offer.

We lived in Canmore, which is about 20 minutes away from the Banff townsite, and as avid hikers, we would often head to Banff National Park to explore its trails. Which is why we’ve written this blog! It includes the absolute best hikes in Banff, from super easy ones that anybody can do to more challenging routes.

We’re also conscious of the fact that Banff National Park is pretty big, so we’ve organized the blog into sections, starting with hikes from Banff town. There are also some great hikes that start at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, both of which are in Banff National Park, and from the Icefields Parkway, which is a road that travels from Banff to Jasper.

Finally, we’ve also added some great hikes in Canmore and the Kananaskis, which are close to Banff but not technically within the bounds of the national park.

The BEST Hikes in Banff (near Banff Town)

1. Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk

Bailey walks down the boardwalk at the top of the Banff Gondola at th top of Sulphur Mountain
  • Distance: 1 kilometer/0.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Elevation gain: 36 meters
  • Time needed: 30-40 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: The top of the Banff Gondola

You’ll find this short and sweet hike at the top of the Banff Gondola, which is one of our top Banff must-do activities. It’s an easy walk that can be done at any time of the year, although make sure you wear shoes with good grip if you’re visiting in the winter as the boardwalk can be slippery in the cold. There are lots of shallow steps along the boardwalk, so it’s not a totally flat trail, but it’s very easy to walk along.

The boardwalk leads you from the Banff Gondola Complex to the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station, and you’ll have truly awesome views of mountain peaks and the Bow Valley. That’s actually why we said the walk takes 30-40 minutes despite its short length, because you’ll want to allow plenty of time to soak in the epic scenery. There are also some of the iconic Banff red chairs positioned along the way where you can sit and snap a photo!

Tickets for the Banff Gondola adults tickets range anywhere from $59 to $72 CAD, with youth tickets (age 6-15) starting at $37 CAD and children 5 and under being free. The best way to purchase Banff Gondola tickets is online ahead of time. There’s a ton to do at the gondola station but this hike is one of the best and most famous activities. It was definitely our favorite – the views were just so incredible.

The gondola is 4.5 km (2.8 miles) from the Banff townsite, and it takes about 10 minutes to drive there. Parking fills up fast during the summer and around Christmas, so do bear that in mind. You can also take the ROAM bus, or there’s a free shuttle that runs between Banff town and the gondola during peak seasons.

Related Read: Not so lucky with the weather? Don’t worry, there are lots of fun things to do in Banff in the rain, too!

2. Walk along the Bow River to Suprise Corner

Bailey at Surprise Corner viewpoint in Banff, Canada
I could sit here all day!
  • Distance: 3.8 kilometers/2.4 miles return
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Elevation gain: Low
  • Time needed: 45 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Right in Banff town

This easy hike in Banff starts just north of the Canoe Club at the corner of Bow Ave and Wolf Street. From the main road, you can find the trailhead and then walk alongside the beautiful Bow River until you reach Surprise Corner. 

You’ll have fantastic views of the Bow River throughout as you walk along the edge of the river. Then, at Surprise Corner, you’ll be able to climb the wooden stairs to the viewing platform to gaze at Sulphur Mountain and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, which sits on its lower slopes. 

This is a really nice hike that covers some of Banff’s most scenic spots. It’s pretty flat the whole way and so it’s a pretty casual stroll, but you’re still rewarded with great views at the end.

We think this is great for an easy walk that starts right in Banff town! And if you want to make it longer, you can even add it to the Surprise Corner to Hoodoos trail hike for a little more lengthy but stunning hike (for more on that, see #10 on this list!).

3. Silverton Falls

Silverton Falls, Banff
Silverton Falls Banff
  • Distance: 1.8 kilometers/1.1 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 113 meters 
  • Time needed: 45 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: On the Bow Valley Parkway about a 30-minute drive from Banff town

This hike is a ton of fun, and it’s also pretty underrated in our opinion! Although it’s easy, it does have a steep section towards the end, so you’ll also get a bit of a workout in. The effort is worth it once you reach the beautiful Silverton Falls.

The trail begins at the Rockbound Lake Parking Lot, just off of the Bow Valley Parkway. The parking lot is small and basically nonexistent on online maps, but it is clearly signposted from the road. From there, you can follow the wide dirt path to Silverton Falls, which is a narrow two-tiered waterfall. It’s a bit of a hidden gem in Banff National Park, despite its proximity to the famous Castle Mountain. 

Although Silverton Falls is pretty unique, it’s kind of comparable to the Johnston Canyon – only it’s a much better-kept secret! So if you love getting off the beaten path and away from the crowds, this hike is perfect for you. 

One thing that we will say is that, although this hike is easy, it does take you along a cliff with a steep drop, so if you’re afraid of heights you might be better off choosing another of the routes on this list.

4. Two Jack Lake Trail

People enjoy water sports on Two Jack Lake in Banff as seen from the lake trail
So stunning!
A person kayaks on Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park
You’ll be tempted to jump in!
  • Distance: 4.8 kilometers/3 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 184 meters
  • Time needed: 2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Two Jack Lake, about a 15-minute drive from Banff

This is a super peaceful and mostly flat trail that takes you right along the edge of Two Jack Lake, a gorgeous emerald lake with panoramic views of Mt. Rundle in the distance.

If you’re hiking during the summer, you can even stop and go swimming, although the water is very cold. You can also snowshoe around the frozen lake during the winter – it’s such a beautiful place to visit at any time of the year.

Another cool thing about this hike is that it starts just partway along the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, so if that’s on your Banff itinerary, then this makes a great stop. Two Jack Lake isn’t the most well-known lake in Banff, but we think it’s absolutely stunning and it’s a fantastic opportunity for a beautiful but easy hike.

You can find the trailhead at the Two Jack Lake day-use area, where there’s also plenty of parking. It’s 10 km (6 miles) from Banff and it takes roughly 15 minutes to drive, or the ROAM bus also stops close by if you don’t have your own vehicle.

We found that the trail was really well-maintained and easy to follow. The views were amazing the entire way, and we saw several families hiking together. The trail also takes you past the Two Jack Lake campground, where there are toilets, and there’s a ton of wildlife in Banff National Park to spot along the way. If you’re lucky, you might even see some bears!

5. Upper Stoney Lookout

  • Distance: 4.3 kilometers/2.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 243 meters
  • Time needed: 1.5 – 2 hours
  • Type of trail: Loop

The Upper Stoney Lookout hike is a great choice for families or anyone looking for an easy hike in the Rockies. You’ll find the trailhead in the Mount Norquay Ski Resort parking lot, and then the trail takes you through the forest for most of the way, so there are plenty of opportunities to check out the local flora and fauna. 

Admittedly, there aren’t really many views to speak of as you trek through the forest, but the final section of the trail takes you along a side slope, so you’ll have pretty good views from there. 

Soon, you’ll reach a clearing that offers great views of the Banff townsite, as well as Sulphur Mountain, the Vermillion Lakes, and the Sundance Mountain Range. You’d be forgiven for thinking that this is the Upper Stoney Lookout, but the main event is actually a little further on. 

After hiking for just another 200 meters (650 feet), you’ll reach the Upper Stoney Lookout, which offers incredible views of Cascade Mountain, Mt. Inglismaldie, Mt. Girouard, Bow Valley, and the town of Canmore. Plus, there are lots of rocks around to perch on while you relax and soak up the views. 

Once you’ve had your fill of spectacular scenery, you can use the same trail to head back to the Mount Norquay parking lot, or you can follow the loop. There’s really not much difference in terms of distance or difficulty, so we say you may as well complete the loop and experience a little more variety.

The descent is mostly straightforward, but there are a couple of short, steep sections as you head back through the forest. There’s also a nice little clearing along the way that offers good views of Mount Norquay before you head back into the trees and towards the parking lot, where your hike comes to an end. 

We like this hike a lot! It may not be as spectacular or varied as some of the others on this list, but you do get some great views and it’s a nice, easy trail that you can complete in a couple of hours, without needing to be an Olympic athlete! 

6. Tunnel Mountain

View from the top of Tunnel Mountain
  • Distance: 4.6 kilometers/2.9 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 266 meters
  • Time needed: 1.5-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back
  • Location: The trailhead is located just a 3-minute drive from the center of Banff town

Tunnel Mountain isn’t technically a mountain, it’s actually just a very big hill – but that doesn’t really matter – the views are beautiful!

You’ll begin by heading into the forest and following a series of switchbacks to ascend the mountain (or hill, if we’re being technical about it). In case you’re new to hiking, switchbacks are basically just a way to make the trail less steep. You zigzag back and forth instead of going straight up (which would be much more intense).

There are lots of breaks in the trees along the way so that you can admire the scenery, and the views get better and better as you go. You’ll see the slopes of Sulphur Mountain and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, as well as the Bow Valley and its surrounding peaks.

You get to a ridge as you approach the summit, which offers incredible views, and there are safety rails so you don’t have to worry about slipping. Finally, you’ll reach the top of Tunnel Mountain and be rewarded with panoramic views of some of the most famous peaks in Banff National Park, as well as the town of Banff itself, and the Vermillion Lakes.

The hike is mostly uphill but it’s not too steep and the switchbacks make things a lot easier. In fact, it’s actually a popular running route during the summer, so if you’re feeling really energetic, you can always try and jog it. It’s an all-season trail, although we highly recommend attaching crampons/microspikes to your shoes if you’re hiking during the winter months.

The trailhead is located at the Tunnel Mountain lower parking lot, which is only a 3-minute drive or a 15-minute walk from the center of Banff. So not only is this an easy hike in Banff, but it’s also one of the most accessible!

Related Read: Another great outdoor adventure in Banff is seeing wildlife! Check out the best wildlife tours in Banff National Park to see what animals you can spot.

7. Johnston Canyon

Bailey looks down at the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
The Upper Falls is amazing!
Lower falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Lower falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
  • Distance: 5.3 kilometers/3.3 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 263 meters
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: On the Bow Valley Parkway, a 30-minute drive from Banff town

Located just outside of Banff on the Bow Valley Parkway, this stunning route gives you a peek at the expansive Johnston Canyon. This trail is a great family activity as the path is wide with some sections of boardwalk, not too steep, and there is so much to see from steep canyon walls to waterfalls.

The Johnston Canyon hike takes you through a canyon surrounded by seven glacial waterfalls. During the summer, you’ll see the water cascading over rocky cliffs and can get right close to Johnston Creek to cool down.

This trail is also open during the winter, and is truly a different experience! The once heavily flowing waterfalls are now frozen in time. The ice on the Lower and Upper Waterfalls turns into a blue color that is quite beautiful. While this trail is still doable during the winter, it might be a good idea to book a guided ice walk tour to ensure you’re safe and have the right gear.

If the full 2.5 km (1.6 miles) to reach the Upper Falls is too much for your group, you can get to the Lower Falls in 1.2 km (0.75 miles).

Johnston Canyon is open year-round and is free to enter! This is one of the most popular hikes in Banff, so be sure to arrive early to secure free parking in the two parking lots available.

There are a few different ways you can get from Banff to Johnston Canyon. You can easily drive yourself. However, if you don’t have a car or are worried about parking, this hop-on-hop-off bus tour from Banff is the perfect option. One of the stops is at Johnston Canyon and at only $80 CAD it’s a great deal! Plus, the bus also takes you to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake which are a couple of Banff’s most popular attractions.

8. Stewart Canyon

Views of the bridge on Stewart Canyon, Banff
Views of the bridge on Stewart Canyon, Banff
  • Distance: 6.8 kilometers/4.2 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy to the bridge and back, moderate if you hike the whole trail
  • Elevation gain: 260 meters
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back
  • Location: Lake Minnewanka, a 20-minute drive from Banff

This is one of the best hikes you can do in the Banff area. The trail starts at the iconic Lake Minnewanka, just 20 minutes from Banff and a hub of activity in any season. You can enjoy this lake cruise during the summer and spend the winter ice skating on the lake!

The hike to Stewart Canyon starts right at the Lake Minnewanka parking lot, so it is easy to find. The first kilometer/half mile will be paved through the day-use area, but quickly turns into the secluded forest. The trail will follow the lake’s edge until you finally reach a beautiful wooden bridge that overlooks Stewart Canyon. During the summer, you’ll gaze over the flowing stream, and during winter, enjoy the crisp frozen air.

The bridge is the technical turnaround point, as it takes you to Stewart Canyon. However, you can continue walking along the trail and follow the canyon for a longer hike. Some resources list the hike as around longer, but the bridge turnaround point will leave you with a 3 km (1.8 mile) walk through the forest.

This is a super easy trail with incredible views. Keep an eye out for wildlife too, I’ve seen countless deer on this trail and also foxes, and be sure to check with the rangers for bear sightings and bring your bear spray!

Related Read: Heading to Lake Minnewanka? Learn everything you need to know about the Lake Minnewanka boat cruise!

9. Cascade Ponds to Bankhead

Cascade Ponds, Banff National Park
Cascade Ponds, Banff National Park
  • Distance: 7.7 kilometers/4.7 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 373 meters 
  • Time needed: 2.5 hours 
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Just on the outskirts of Banff town, about a 15-minute drive from the center of town

This trail starts at the pretty Cascade Ponds, which is a collection of ponds at the base of Cascade Mountain. The area is super scenic and there are picnic benches around where you can enjoy some refreshments either before or after your hike. 

After you move away from the ponds, a good portion of this hike will take you through a forest, so you don’t get insane views the whole way, but the Cascade Ponds are really pretty and Bankhead is super cool to check out. It was once a mining village but it was eventually abandoned after operations ceased in 1922, so now it’s a ghost town! Today, you can walk through the eerie remnants of the town and learn about the history of the mining industry from the information boards dotted around. 

If you’re doing this hike during the summer months, you can even go for a dip in the Cascade Ponds after you complete the trail. The water is warm (by Banff standards, anyway) so it can be nice to cool off after working up a sweat.

This walk is one of our favorite stops when we’re driving from Edmonton to Banff or taking a road trip from Calgary to Banff. It’s a nice spot to stretch your legs before arriving in Banff.

10. Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint

Bailey at Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint over Banff National Park
The hoodoos!
Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Viewpoint, Banff
What a view!
  • Distance: 9 kilometers/5.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 340 meters
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Trail starts at Surprise Corner, right in Banff

This nice, easy hike takes you to the Banff Hoodoos, which are thin rock spires carved by the wind and rain. The hoodoos are an iconic sight in Banff National Park, and you get some great views of Mt. Rundle along the way. What we love about this hike is that it actually begins at a viewpoint, so you really do start off on a positive note!

The trailhead starts at the Surprise Corner parking lot, but before you set off we highly recommend climbing the stairs to the viewpoint for some amazing views of the Bow River, Sulphur Mountain, and the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. You might even catch a glimpse of the Banff Gondola gliding up the side of the mountain in the background.

After you’ve taken in the views, head back down the steps and head out onto the trail, which is clearly signposted. You’ll begin walking through the forest and it won’t be long before Mt. Rundle comes into view above the treetops. The forest isn’t very dense, so you’ll get plenty of great views as you go.

About half a kilometer (0.3 miles) in, you’ll reach a junction and have the choice between two trails. It doesn’t really matter which one you pick, since they join up again in another 500 meters (1,640 feet), but having done both we recommend going left because it takes you closer to the face of the mountain.

Once you’re about a kilometer (0.6 miles) into the hike, the trail will take you along the Bow River and you’ll follow it for a while before heading back into the forest. You’ll see even more mountains along the way, such as Cascade Mountain and Mt. Inglismaldie, and the views get better and better as you approach the hoodoos. There are two great viewpoints to stop at before you hit the final section of the trail, where you’re treated to even more amazing mountain views before you arrive at a big parking lot which is the ultimate hoodoos viewpoint.

In addition to the epic views of these unique rock formations, the parking lot also has toilets where you can relieve yourself before heading back to the Surprise Viewpoint. We also recommend checking out the paved trails, which have signs with lots of information about the Banff Hoodoos, and some of those iconic Banff red chairs to sit and snap a photo in!

What’s great about this Banff hike (aside from its ease and epic views) is that it can be done at pretty much any time of year. In the winter, you may need microspikes and some warm clothing (of course), but it’s still safe to hike. We absolutely loved this hike. It’s so beautiful, and the fact that it’s an easy one is really just a bonus!

11. Sunshine Meadows

Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park
Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park
  • Distance: 10.6 kilometers/6.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 440 meters
  • Time needed: 3.5 hours
  • Type of trail: Loop
  • Location: Top of the Sunshine Village sightseeing gondola

Doesn’t Sunshine Meadows just sound like the perfect place to spend a summer day? As the name suggests, this hike is a summertime-only one. You’ll need to take the Sunshine Village Gondola to the upper sightseeing village first, which is only open from late June until September. Still, if you’re in Banff around this time, then we think this trail is definitely worth doing because you get to visit not one, not two, but three beautiful lakes!

Sunshine Village is located 25.5 km (16 miles) from the Banff townsite along the Trans-Canada Highway, so you can either drive there, which takes about 25 minutes, or take the free shuttle. Once you’ve arrived, you’ll need to take the Banff Sunshine Sightseeing Gondola up to the sightseeing village where you’ll find the trailhead. Tickets cost $65 CAD for adults or $32 CAD for kids aged 5-16, and it’s best to book tickets in advance online here.

When you get to the top, you should definitely head to the Standish Viewing Deck to soak in the amazing views of the three lakes before you begin your hike toward them. After you’ve snapped some photos, head down the stairs and follow the path towards Rock Isle Lake, which is the first of the three. It’s a small but picturesque lake with an islet in the middle, hence the name.

Next up, you’ll head through some pretty flower meadows and forests before reaching Grizzly Lake, which tends to be a bit quieter than Rock Isle Lake as some visitors head back after reaching the first of the three lakes. It’s a great spot for photos, and then you’ll come to Simpson Viewpoint a little further on where you’ll enjoy sweeping valley views.

And then last but not least, you’ll get to Larix Lake and walk around the edge as you begin to loop back. It’s the biggest and quietest of the three lakes and is surrounded by pretty larch trees, so we found this to be a really tranquil spot to sit and rest for a while.

The loop then starts taking you back to Sunshine Village, but this time you walk along the northern shore of Rock Isle Lake, so you get better views on the way back. In fact, we found that this latter section had the best views of the entire hike, and it was nice to end on a high note!

This is an easy but fairly lengthy and really rewarding hike, and it’s a pretty idyllic way to spend a summer day in Banff National Park. Plus, when you get back to the village there are a couple of places to grab food, a coffee, or even a pint for the adults before you all enjoy the gondola ride back down again.

12. Cascade Amphitheatre

Cascade Amphitheatre, Banff
  • Distance: 14.3 kilometers/8.8 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Elevation gain: 956 meters
  • Time needed: 6 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Just outside of Banff town at Mount Norquay

If you’re looking for a hike that’s a bit longer but still not too challenging, then allow us to introduce you to the Cascade Amphitheatre trail.

Although this hike has a bigger elevation gain than others on this list, it’s also longer than most, so it evens out. It’s pretty much a steady incline the whole way, so you’ll definitely burn a fair few calories but there are switchbacks that make it easier, so you won’t be constantly out of breath.

In fact, since most of this hike goes through fairly dense forest, we recommend doing it with a few friends so that you can chat along the way.

The trailhead can be found in the Mt. Norquay lower parking lot which is 7.4 km (4.6 miles) from Banff town center. It’s not very well marked from the parking lot, so head past the Cascade Lodge and continue on until you see the sign for the trailhead. Once you get going, the trail itself is easy to follow and it’s a wide path, so again, this is a good one to do with friends.

The trail is well-marked all the way to the top, and once you reach the Cascade Amphitheatre, you’ll be rewarded for all that walking through the forest with epic views of the Rocky Mountain landscape.

If you’re hiking in the summer, it’s best to start early as we found the trail got quite busy in the middle of the day. And in the winter, definitely wear some crampons as the hike becomes a lot harder without them – and why make things difficult for yourself?

Hot Tip: While you’re here, why not ride the Mount Norquay sightseeing gondola? It offers some of the best views of Banff and no hiking is required. You can book the sightseeing gondola passes online in advance here!

13. Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass

  • Distance: 20.5 kilometers/12.7 miles return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation gain: 1,075 meters
  • Time needed: 4-6 hours for Bourgeau Lake, 6-8 hours for Harvey Pass
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: A 15-minute drive outside of Banff along the main highway

Not only does this trail offer some stunning views, it’s also super peaceful. It kind of makes you feel like you have the Canadian Rockies all to yourself! 

Admittedly, the epic views don’t materialize straight away. It’s only about 3 km (2 miles) into the hike that you get a glimpse of beautiful Bourgeau Lake. This is a gorgeous dark blue lake that is surrounded by a wall of limestone, so basically, it’s situated inside a natural amphitheater. Trust us, these views will make all of that uphill climbing feel so, so worth it. 

You’ll find the trailhead for this hike located about a 15-minute drive west of Banff along Trans Canada Highway 1.

It’s about 7.5 km (4.7 miles) from the trailhead to Bourgeau Lake, and this is definitely the easiest section of the trail. Once you reach the lake, you can either turn around and head back or continue onto Harvey Pass. Harvey Pass is absolutely stunning, but it’s also a lot more difficult, so if you’re not an experienced hiker then there’s definitely nothing wrong with sticking to the Bourgeau Lake section of the hike! 

The hike from Bourgeau Lake to Harvey Pass is very steep and there are some rocky sections which may involve scrambling. However, the rocky part of the trail isn’t too long and the views from Harvey Pass are 100% worth it. From the top, you’ll have amazing views of Mt. Assiniboine, Sunshine Meadows and the Sunshine Ski Village, and Bourgeau Lake below.

14. Cory Pass/Mt Edith Circuit

  • Distance: 15 kilometers/9.3 miles return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation gain: 1,100 meters
  • Time needed: 6-8 hours
  • Type of trail: Loop
  • Location: Starts just off the Bow Valley Parkway, a 10-minute drive from Banff town

This hike is made up of two trails (the Cory trail and the Edith trail) which can be tackled together in a loop. The trailhead is in the parking lot of the Fireside picnic area along the Bow Valley Parkway, and you can either go left towards the Cory Pass or right towards the Edith Pass. We think it’s best to start with the Cory Pass, as it’s the steeper section of the trail. Yes, you will expend more energy this way, but descending along a steep trail can be really tough on your knees.

The first 1.5 km (1 mile) of the trail is very steep, but you’ll have amazing views of Banff town, Mount Cory, and Mount Louis to distract you along the way. After that, you’ll reach a much flatter section which will give your legs some relief, and then finally you’ll come to a sharp rocky incline. Not only is this section steep, it’s also exposed, so you might find yourself getting pretty cold as you battle the wind. But soon, you’ll get to the Cory Pass and forget all about that as you take in amazing views of Gargoyle Valley. 

Once you’ve had your fill of valley views, it’s time to descend along the Edith Pass. This is another challenging section of the trail because it involves walking downhill along a scree, which is essentially a slope consisting of loose stones. You’ll need to focus all of your attention on your footing, and it’s best to walk in a zig-zag pattern, because this will make your descent a lot easier (although it still won’t exactly be easy). 

After you’ve survived the scree, you’ll get to a wide forest path and the descent is pretty easy from then on – although you will need to keep an eye out for bears. It’s always a good idea to have bear spray handy when hiking in the Rockies! 

This hike is challenging, but it’s super varied in terms of the types of landscape that you encounter, and the views from the top are just amazing. You’ll be tired at the end, but also pretty proud of yourself! 

15. Mount Assiniboine

  • Distance: 30 kilometers/18.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation gain: 600 meters from Sunshine Village
  • Time needed: 10 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Top of the Sunshine Village sightseeing gondola

Mount Assiniboine is a sharp peak that’s often nicknamed “The Matterhorn of the Rockies” due to its resemblance to the iconic mountain that sits on the Swiss-Italian border. The hike will take you to Magog Lake, where you can enjoy incredible views of the mountain, or even camp overnight to explore the area further.

There are multiple starting points for the Mount Assiniboine hike, but if you’re staying in Banff then we recommend starting in Sunshine Village (at the top of the Sunshine Gondola), since this is the closest trailhead to town. 

You can take a shuttle bus from Banff to the lower gondola station and then ride up to the top before beginning your hike. It’s definitely best to take the gondola up, because not only is it easier, the hike up to Sunshine Village isn’t really anything to write home about. You can book your Sunshine Gondola tickets in advance online here.

If you’re up for a challenge, then you can do this hike in a single day. However, it is pretty long, so you can also divide it up into a multi-day trip instead. This allows you much more time to explore the area around Mount Assiniboine itself and get more out of your experience. 

The best campsites to stay at along the way are Porcupine Lake and Og Lake. Porcupine Lake campground is 12.5 km (7.8 miles) from the trailhead, so you can do a half-day hike to this campground, or go all the way to Og Lake, which is a further 5 km (3 miles) away on your first day. You could even take it really slow and spend a night at each campground! Basically, you can make this hike as fast or as slow as you’d like it to be. 

If you’re starting in Sunshine Village, you’ll need to take the trail toward Rock Isle Lake, which is home to a stunning viewpoint. You’ll then continue on past Howard Douglas Lake and towards Citadel Pass, which offers beautiful views of the surrounding peaks, valleys, and lakes. 

After Citadel Pass, you can turn off for Porcupine Campground or continue onto Og Lake if you’re camping overnight. From there, it’s a fairly challenging and exposed uphill trek until you reach the campground. 

After Og Lake, it’s a fairly short and flat walk to Magog Lake that should take you just over an hour. From the lake, you’ll have beautiful views of Mount Assiniboine and its surrounding peaks. You could call this the end of your hike, or stay overnight at the Magog Lake campground and spend a day (or more) exploring Assiniboine Provincial Park. 

We highly recommend hiking up the Niblet, which is a two-hour return trip that provides insane views of Mount Assiniboine, as well as the Sunburst, Cerulean, and Magog Lakes! 

Parks Canada Pass Quick Info

If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.

Single Daily Admission:

This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.

  • Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
  • Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
  • Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE

Group Daily Admission:

If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)

  • $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day

Parks Canada Discovery Pass

The “Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.

  • Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
  • Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
  • Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD

Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!

Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.

Hikes in Banff starting from Lake Louise

16. Fairview Lookout Banff

The view from Fairview lookout in Banff National Park
The lake really is this color! Just wait till you see it!
  • Distance: 2.3 kilometers/1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 161 meters
  • Time needed: 1 hour
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Lake Louise lakefront parking lot

The trail to Fairview Lookout gives a fantastic look at Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. With so many hikes around Lake Louise, this trail offers a quick way to get away from the crowds and take in the views from above. The trail is not strenuous but has short bursts of elevation gain that can be momentarily steep. While some parts require a bit of work, it will pay out once you get to the top and can gaze over the crystal blue water. 

The trail begins at the Lake Louise shore and heads left past the boathouse before climbing to the viewpoint. All trails around the lake are very well labeled, so you can follow the signs without a problem. There are two ways to the top, one follows the shoreline before ascending steeply to the top and the other a more gradual climb (at the fork turn left). You can take one up and the other down to create a nice loop.

In winter, the gradual climb is much safer, and I recommend going up and back down this way, especially if you don’t have ice cleats. Although possible without them, they help a lot! In the summer, you can hike either way, depending on your fitness level.

Note: From May until mid-October, you’ll be required to pay $36.75 CAD per vehicle per day to park at Lake Louise Lakefront (2024 updated price). The paid parking is in effect from 3 am until 7 pm daily. 

17. Lake Louise Lakefront Trail

Lake Louise waterfront Trail, Banff National Park
Lake Louise Waterfront Trail, Banff National Park
  • Distance: 4.5 kilometers/2.8 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 101 meters
  • Time needed: 1 hour
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Lake Louise lakefront parking lot

Lake Louise is one of the most famous lakes in Banff National Park, and the Lakefront Trail is the best way to see it up close. Plus, the trail takes you right up to the Victoria Glacier for even more epic natural beauty! You’ll also have amazing views of the peaks surrounding the lake, such as Mount Temple, Mount Whyte, and Mount Niblock.

This is a very flat trail and you can do it at any time of the year. During winter in Lake Louise, the lake is frozen so you can even walk on it, which always gives me a thrill. It’s also a wide and well-maintained path, so you can even take a stroller along it if you’re traveling with little ones.

The trailhead is on the north shore of Lake Louise, about 4 km (2.5 miles) from Lake Louise Village. Or it’s a 68 km (42 mile) drive from Banff to Lake Louise, which should take just under an hour.

There’s paid parking at the Lake Louise Lakeshore day-use area, but it can get very busy during the summer. Another option is to head to the Lake Louise Park and Ride area and take the shuttle from there to the lakefront, which costs $8 CAD for adults, $4 CAD for seniors, and is free for anyone under 17 and should be booked in advance.

18. Plain of Six Glaciers

views on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail
Views along the trail!
  • Distance: 10.6 kilometers/6.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 400 meters
  • Time needed: 4 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Lake Louise lakefront parking lot

Nestled in the ridges of the mountains around Lake Louise sits the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. Lake Louise is strikingly beautiful and a known tourist hub, attracting nearly 15,000 people a day. Escaping the globs of tourists by taking a family-friendly adventure into the wilderness is the ideal way to experience the lake. 

The trail begins at Lake Louise and is relatively flat and easy, winding its way along the shore. It begins to increase in elevation as you make your way up the hill before reaching the tea house about 5.3 km (3.3 miles) in.

You can extend this hike by joining the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House hike with the Lake Agnes Tea House Trail. This track is a 14.6-km (9-mile) loop taking around 6 hours to complete with stops. It’s an epic trail that visits two beautiful tea houses in Lake Louise!

If you want a more in-depth experience, this 6-hour guided tour is a great option to explore several trails in the area. The tour guide will give you an extensive history of the area and take you to some lesser-known viewpoints!

19. Lake Agnes Teahouse/Big Beehive

The views of the mountains at Lake Agnes
Lake Agnes!
The Lake Agnes Tea House on a sunny day in Banff
At the teahouse, you can buy snacks and drinks.
  • Distance: 10.4 kilometers/6.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 564 meters
  • Time needed: 5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Lake Louise lakefront parking lot

The Big Beehive is one of the most iconic sights in the Canadian Rockies, and on this hike in Banff, you not only get amazing views of this unique mountain (which was so-named for its resemblance to – you guessed it – a beehive), but you also get to climb it and enjoy aerial views of Lake Louise from the mountainside.

This is one of the more difficult hikes on our list, but if you’re reasonably fit and have done a couple of hikes before then you shouldn’t struggle. There are also several places along the way to stop, rest, and take in the views, including the popular Lake Agnes Teahouse.

It’s best to do this hike between June and early October when the conditions are best because there’s an avalanche risk in the winter and the famous teahouse closes after Canadian Thanksgiving.

You should definitely wear hiking boots instead of runners for this one – we made that mistake when we went in June! The hike was still doable, but since the final part of the hike was still covered in snow, we had to hike back with very cold, wet feet.

The trailhead can be found at the parking lot of Lake Louise near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a palatial 5-star hotel perched on the edge of Lake Louise. There’s day parking here for visitors, but as mentioned above, it does fill up pretty fast, so a better option might be to take the Park and Ride.

We won’t lie to you, the first couple of kilometers/miles of the hike are pretty unremarkable – you’re just walking through a forest. But persevere, because before long, you’ll be able to glimpse Lake Louise through the trees, and then you’ll come to Mirror Lake, a small lake whose calm surface reflects the Big Beehive. It’s quite a sight to see, so you’ll definitely want to stop here and snap some photos.

A little further on, about 3.8 km (2.4 miles) into the hike, you’ll reach a wooden staircase that takes you up to the Lake Agnes Teahouse. This charming little spot is a great place to grab refreshments and gaze out at the bright blue waters of Lake Agnes. There are over 100 types of tea on offer here, as well as sandwiches, soups, and desserts. Talk about a meal with a view?! In fact, many people consider this teahouse to be one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise, so be sure to bring some money.

You can just hike here and head back after you’ve had your fill of treats if you don’t want to tackle the more difficult part of the hike. However, if you’re able to, we would definitely recommend continuing onto Big Beehive because the views of Lake Louise from there are second to none, and it’s not too strenuous.

You follow a series of switchbacks up the side of the Big Beehive, and you can definitely stop and enjoy the view of Lake Agnes from above along the way. The final section of the trail is rocky and a bit harder to walk along, but it’s not too challenging – just remember to take care. 

There are a ton of viewpoints as you walk along the cliff’s edge that afford astonishing views of Lake Louise from high above. The final point of the trail is a small shelter where you can sit and rest before turning back although it’s behind some trees, so you can’t actually see the lake from here – but don’t worry, there are plenty of other viewpoints around.

Related Read: Planning a honeymoon? Check out our Banff honeymoon guide!

Hikes in Banff starting from Moraine Lake

20. Moraine Lakeshore/Rockpile

Stunning view along the Rockpile Trail at Moraine Lake
Heading up to the Rockpile from the Moraine Lake Lodge at sunset!
  • Distance: 3.4 kilometers/2.1 miles return
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Elevation gain: 38 meters
  • Time needed: 30 minutes – 1 hour
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

This short route is the perfect beginners’ trail, although for that reason it can get crowded, so we say go early and start your day off right with a beautiful hike!

The trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking lot and takes you to the top of the Rockpile, where you’ll have an unobstructed view of the lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks, which is absolutely breathtaking. You’ll definitely want to stop here for a while to soak in this postcard-perfect scene.

Then, you head back down the Rockpile to follow the trail along the lakeshore, and you can stop at the Moraine Lake Lodge to grab a drink or a snack if you want. As you walk along the lakeside, you’ll have amazing views of Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier. This really is a stunning hike with an excellent reward-to-effort ratio, so we highly recommend it!

We actually found that getting here was more difficult than the hike itself, and when we spoke to other travelers, we weren’t alone in this! In fact, the parking situation at Moraine Lake is so difficult that we’ve dedicated an entire blog post to it!

In a nutshell, you are no longer to drive and park at Moraine Lake. It’s best to take the hop-on, hop-off bus from Banff or drive to the Lake Louise ski resort and take the Parks Canada Parks and Ride shuttle, which runs every 20 minutes from 6:30 am – 6 pm from June to October and costs $8 CAD for an adult return ticket, however, this must be booked in advance. Another new option is this shuttle offered by the Moraine Lake Bus Company which even offers sunrise departure times if you want to hike early in the morning!

21. Consolation Lakes

A lady stands on a rock at Consolation Lakes in Banff National Park
Checking out the first lake on Consolation Lakes Trail.
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometers/3.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 65 meters
  • Time needed: 2-3 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

With all the bustle of hikers in Banff, it is nice to find a less popular but equally beautiful trail. We’ll keep this one our little secret. The Consolation Lakes Trail starts at Moraine Lake, about an hour from Banff.

This trail is relatively flat the whole way to the lake, making it for an enjoyable day outside. 

You’ll start near the famous Rockpiles at Moraine Lake, work your way through the forest, and end at two beautiful lakes. Expect to scramble over some rocks to actually make it to the lake’s edge. This part is a little more challenging but can be skipped as long as you’re satisfied not going all the way to the second lake.

While the hike is pretty short, you’ll want to plan plenty of time to spend at the lakes. This is the perfect spot to bring some snacks and relax for the afternoon. 

22. Larch Valley Trail

Larch trees with a moutain backdrop on the Larch Valley Trail during fall in Banff
Just stunning!
  • Distance: 8.6 kilometers/5.3 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
  • Elevation gain: 535 meters
  • Time needed: 5 – 6 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

The Larch Valley Trail starts from Moraine Lake and is about an hour’s drive from Banff. While it’s a bit of a drive and a bit of an elevation gain, it is well worth the effort.

The beginning of the trail is the steepest, but don’t let that weed out the weak! The trail levels out to be much easier for an enjoyable scenic walk. This trail is open from June to mid-October. If you have a flexible travel schedule, there is nothing quite like visiting Banff National Park in autumn! During this time of year, the leaves all change color making this trail all the more beautiful.

The trail begins with a bunch of switchbacks through the forest. While this first part is tiring, the trail is well-maintained and not technical. Take it slow and you’ll have no trouble making it through this part.

The trail will then flatten out until you reach the breathtaking Minnestimma Lakes. You’ll want some time to sit and enjoy this area. If you want to add a bit of a challenge to this trail, you can continue on and climb up to Sentinel Pass, but this part is much more technical.  

The Larch Valley is one of my absolute favorite hikes in Canada, and definitely one of the best hikes near Banff. Check it out for yourself and you’ll know exactly what I mean!

Related Read: With these popular hiking locations, parking can fill up quickly! Read our guide about how to get to Moraine Lake from Banff.

23. Lake Annette/Paradise Valley

Giant steps waterfall in the Paradise Valley
Giant steps waterfall in the Paradise Valley
  • Distance: 11.4 kilometers/7 miles return to Lake Annette; 20.4 kilometers/12.6 miles return to Paradise Valley
  • Difficulty: Moderate. Difficult if you hike to Paradise Valley and back in one day.
  • Elevation gain: 392 meters
  • Time needed: 4 hours for Lake Annette, 7 hours for Paradise Valley
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Moraine Lake parking lot

This is a quiet and fairly underrated hike from Moraine Lake, and we had such a great time with it. You have two choices here: for a shorter hike, you can do the shorter return trail to Lake Annette, or for a longer hike you can continue onto Paradise Valley. Since it’s a 20.4-km (12-mile) hike to Paradise Valley, some people choose to break it up by spending a night at the Paradise Valley Campground, although it is possible to do the whole thing in a day.

The hike to Lake Annette is easy to follow, as it’s very well-signed. There are some bridge crossings along the way, as well as wonderful views of Mount Temple. The pass between Fairview and Saddleback Mountain is also very scenic, and a good spot to stop for photos. You’ll also cross the pretty Paradise Creek before reaching Lake Annette. You can even bring a picnic to enjoy as you marvel at the bright blue lake with Mount Temple towering in the background.

This is the easier section of the hike, and if you just want a fairly easy hike, then you can just reach Lake Annette, chill there for a while, then call it a day and head back. However, if you do want to continue onto Paradise Valley, then you’ll find yourself hiking through larch forests until you reach the valley, where even more stunning mountain views await you.

And if you’ve made it this far, you should definitely take a quick detour to check out the Giant Steps, a series of cascading waterfalls that look out over the valley, all the way to the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

If you do the longer hike, you can stay overnight at the Paradise Valley campground or if you’re super fit and have tons of energy, you can do the return hike in a day, but make sure to set out nice and early.

However, for us, the best part of the hike was definitely Lake Annette, so if you don’t have the time or the inclination to do the full 20.4-km hike, tackling the first portion is still well worth it, and it won’t leave you too exhausted. This is definitely the better option if you’re traveling with younger children, too, since going all the way to Paradise Valley would be way too much for little legs!

The trailhead is in a small parking lot just off of Moraine Lake Road, but it can be a hassle getting there since Moraine Lake Road is technically closed to visitors this year.

Want to visit Moraine Lake for sunrise?

Since the road is closed to personal vehicles, there are three options to visit Moraine Lake at sunrise: this organized tour, booking this privately-operated shuttle, or taking the Parks Canada Alpine Start shuttle.

  1. The tour begins at 4 am in Banff. It costs $287 CAD and includes not only a visit to Moraine Lake with hot chocolate and coffee to enjoy, but also an early morning visit to Lake Louise. That means you can visit two of the busiest lakes in Canada without the crowds or the stress of parking/shuttles. You can book the tour here with free cancellation up to 24 hours before.
  2. The new Moraine Lake sunrise shuttle includes transport only from Lake Louise Village at a cost of $99 CAD. They offer a few pick-up times with the first shuttle leaving at 4 am and the second at 5 am. You must book your spot online in advance here to avoid missing out.
  3. The Parks Canada Alpine Start shuttle leaves at 4 am and 5 am for $8 CAD. While it’s the cheapest option, it’s also the hardest to book. If you don’t grab tickets during the initial release of tickets in April, you’ll need to try to get tickets online at 8 am MDT two days before your trip.

Hikes in Banff National Park on the Icefields Parkway

24. Icefields Parkway Skywalk

Columbia Icefield Skywalk in Banff National Park with views of the mountains
Columbia Icefield Skywalk in Banff National Park with views of the mountains
  • Distance: 0.8 kilometers/0.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Elevation gain: 0 meters 
  • Time needed: 30 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Near the Discovery Centre on the Icefield Parkway

The Icefield Parkway Skywalk – also known as the Jasper Skywalk – is part of the Columbia Icefield, and it’s an absolutely beautiful walk. It’s a glass observation platform that protrudes from a cliff over the Sunwapta Valley, so this one really is all about the views! In fact, at parts of the walk, you’ll be almost 300 meters (1,000 feet) above the valley floor, which is really a sight to behold.

As the name suggests, this is more of a walk than a hike, so we may have cheated a little bit with this one, but it is just so beautiful and such a unique experience. In fact, it’s all reward and virtually no effort! 

The Skywalk was designed to blend in with and complement the natural environment, and it’s super easy to walk along. However, there are lots of information boards to read along the way about the Indigenous history and geology of the area, plus some amazing photo opportunities, which is why we’ve allotted 30 minutes for this one. If you just walked up and down, it would probably only take you 10 minutes! 

You will have to buy a ticket here to access the Skywalk, which costs $38 CAD for adults from Monday – Thursday and $48 CAD on weekends. For kids, it’s $24 CAD on weekdays and $32 CAD from Friday – Sunday. 

The tour starts at the Discovery Centre, where you can park your car. You’ll catch a return bus to the Skywalk, which is included in your admission ticket. It’s really well organized and the bus only takes about 10 minutes each way.

Hot Tip: Want to walk on Athabasca Glacier? Book this Ice Explorer Tour online here, which includes the Skywalk and a trip onto Athabasca Glacier in a specially-made vehicle. It’s cheaper when you book both experiences together.

Related Read: Continue your icefield exploration by checking out one of the 7 best tours on the Icefields Parkway!

25. Peyto Lake Viewpoint

View from the edge of the platform at Peyto Lake Viewpoint in Banff National Park, Canada
Come and experience paradise!
  • Distance: 1.3 kilometers/0.8 miles return
  • Difficulty: Very easy
  • Elevation gain: 73 meters
  • Time needed: 30 minutes
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: About an hour and 15 minutes from Banff

This hike is super short and although it’s a little uphill, it only takes 10-15 minutes to get to the top where you will reach the Peyto Lake Viewpoint. You start at the Peyto Lake parking lot on the Icefields Parkway. The parking lot does get busy during the day, but since this hike is very short, people are constantly coming and going, so you shouldn’t have to wait too long to find a spot.

From there, you follow a paved pathway up to the viewpoint. It’s super easy to follow and there will probably be plenty of other people around, so you really can’t go wrong here. The path can be a bit slippery in the winter, so wear shoes with good grip.

The trail will take you up to a wooden viewing platform where you’ll have jaw-dropping views of Peyto Lake in all of its bright blue glory – not to mention mountainous landscape that stretches as far as the eye can see.

This great little hike is an excellent stop along the Icefields Parkway, which is one of the most scenic roads in the world, and we found it easy to fit into our road trip itinerary. It’s an insane reward for very little effort, so if you’re heading along the Icefields Parkway we highly recommend making a stop here.

26. Mistaya Canyon

Mistaya-Canyon-on-the-Icefields-Parkway-in-summer
Mistaya Canyon with a mountain backdrop on the Icefields Parkway, Canada
  • Distance: 1.8 kilometers/1.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 79 meters
  • Time needed: 45 minutes
  • Type of trail: Loop
  • Location: Along the Icefields Parkway, about 1 hour and 20 minutes from Banff

This is another great little hike on the Icefields Parkway. It receives far fewer visitors than the Peyto Lake Viewpoint and after completing this one for ourselves, we both agreed that it’s underrated. Okay, so it’s perhaps not quite as dazzling, but it’s still super scenic and since it’s such a short hike, it would be a shame to pass up the chance to see this picturesque canyon.

The Mistaya Canyon trail starts in the Mistaya Canyon parking lot on the west side of Highway 93. We actually missed the turn on our first drive past, so keep your eyes peeled! From the parking lot, you’ll follow a short gravel path along the rushing river towards the canyon itself. When you arrive at the canyon, you’ll be met with a stunning view that wouldn’t be out of place on a postcard.

You can visit the Mistaya Canyon all year round, and it’s a nice snowshoeing trail in the winter. For us, it’s a bit of a hidden gem along the popular Icefields Parkway and we really enjoyed the tranquility of this quick hike.

27. Bow Glacier Falls

Bow Summit in Banff National Park overlooking Peyto Lake on the Icefields Parkway. The glacier-fed lake is famous for its bright turquoise colored waters in the summer.
The view from Bow Summit, the highest point on the Icefields Parkway!
  • Distance: 8.9 kilometers/5.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 155 meters
  • Time needed: 2.5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Just off the Icefields Parkway about 1 hour from Banff and 30 minutes from Lake Louise

Bow Glacier Falls is a great little day hike that takes you to a stunning waterfall, which is fed by the Bow Glacier and descends into the gorgeous blue lake below.

The trail begins in the Bow Lake parking lot and takes you along the right-hand side of Bow Lake, with great views the entire way. After you pass the river, you’ll head up a set of stairs at the top of which you’ll have amazing glacier views, which makes the climb totally worth it. Then, the path takes you along a stream until you see the Bow Glacier Falls in all its glory!

Aside from the stairs and one rocky section, we found that this hike was smooth sailing pretty much the whole way. Plus, getting to walk along Bow Lake was really enjoyable because of its bright blue hue, and the mountain backdrop obviously added an extra wow factor.

This is another great year-round hike, although you will need snowshoes in the winter, and obviously, the route will take a little longer to complete this way. If you do go in winter though, your extra effort might be rewarded with views of a frozen waterfall, which is a pretty epic thing to see.

Related Read: If you’re checking out other glaciers in the area, be sure to read our guide on where to stay on the Icefields Parkway for the best hotels and campgrounds!

28. Athabasca Glacier Hike

Bailey smiles at the camera on the Athabasca Glacier on a Columbia Icefield Adventure, Canada
Thanks for reading!
  • Distance: 5 kilometers/3 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy-moderate
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: On the Athabasca Glacier with a tour leaving from the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre parking lot

Hiking right on a glacier has to be a bucket list thing right! While you can take Ice Explorer Tours like this one with special vehicles that drive onto the glacier, there’s something extra special about hiking right on Athabasca Glacier yourself.

You get way more time to soak in the incredible sights around you and see ice formations like crevasses, meltwater streams, and icefalls up close. The ONLY way to hike on the glacier is with a tour like this one, you can’t just start hiking on your own!

This guided glacier hike is our top choice because you get to go to parts of the glacier that most people don’t get to see. You’re in a small group of around 12 people and while hiking on a glacier sounds intense, it’s actually really do-able. The walk is decently easy and you’re stopping often to take photos or look at different things, so there are lots of little breaks built in.

While you’ll need to dress warm, what’s nice about this tour is that all the equipment you need is provided. That includes microspikes for your shoes and even gloves, hats, and hiking boots if you didn’t bring your own. Everything is included for $130 CAD per person and you can choose from a 10 am or 2 pm departure time.

The tour lasts about three hours which is a nice length of time, but you can opt for a full-day glacier hike if you’re interested. It doubles both your hiking distance to 10 km/6 miles and your time on the glacier.

The hiking tours start in the west parking lot at the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre where you’ll hop in a shuttle to the trailhead.

Hikes near Banff (Canmore and the Kananaskis)

29. Troll Falls

the frozen Troll Falls in the Kananaskis in the winter near Canmore
Trolls Falls is so cool in the winter!
  • Distance: 3.4 kilometers/2.1 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 100 meters
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Near Nakiska Ski Area, about an hour’s drive from Banff town

For yet another hike that is equally gorgeous in the summer as the winter, Troll Falls is a must-see. This is easily one of the most popular hikes in the area. It is located right near Nakiska Ski Area and makes a great winter activity in the Kananaskis. It’s known for its well-maintained path, beautiful forest, and of course, the waterfall at the end.

During the summer you’ll have a wonderful trail and can enjoy the flowing freshwater. You can climb to the top of the falls and find another viewpoint, but be prepared for a bit of an incline!

I would dare say this hike is more impressive in the winter. The trail is still easy to follow and you can see the waterfall frozen in time and take on a cool blue color. It is quite stunning. 

This is also a great trail for families! Your little ones will be searching for real-life trolls and just might find a Troll doll appearing along the trail near the waterfall. The trail to the bottom of the falls is so well maintained you can even do it with the appropriate hiking stroller.  

This trail is easy to find and well-marked the entire way. Because it is so popular, parking often fills up quickly, but they usually have an overflow parking lot close by. 

Note: A Kananaskis Conservation Pass is now required to explore the Kananaskis region. These passes can be bought at the Kananaskis Visitor Center (or online in advance) and cost $15 CAD per vehicle per day or $90 CAD per year for two vehicles.

30. Blackshale Creek Suspension Bridge

Bailey walks accross Blackshale Suspension Bridge in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
Don’t look down!
Bailey on the Blackshale Suspension Bridge with Mountain views in the Kananaskis
The mountain views are stunning!
  • Distance: 4 kilometers/2.5 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: Minimal
  • Time needed: 1-2 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: In Peter Lougheed Provincial Park about 1 hour and 20 minutes from downtown Banff.

A beautiful and unique way to explore the area, the Blackshale Suspension Bridge is a crowd favorite. The impressive suspension bridge is a draw for kids and families, and anyone will truly enjoy the views from this easy trail.  

Alberta Parks has listed this trail as 1.4 km one way, but after we completed this hike I’d say it’s at least 2 km/1.2 miles or even longer. However, it is an easy and flat hike that children and families can complete.

The trail will lead you to the huge suspension bridge. Even if simple hikes aren’t your thing, it’s worth it to check out this feat of engineering. After you swing on the suspension bridge and give everyone else a good scare, I recommend walking back the way you came. There is an alternative route but most people get lost and end up walking along the highway. 

There is a lot of conflicting information about this hike, as it is part of the Long Black Prince Loop. This is a longer and more difficult option to get to the bridge. For easier access, park at the Black Prince Trail day-use parking, then walk back up the sideroad towards the highway, cross the highway, and get on the trail labeled as “High Rockies.”From here, follow the trail, but keep right when you get to a fork. There are some signs but it is not totally obvious.

You can reach this unique trail by taking the Smith Dorrien Trail out of Canmore towards the Black Prince day-use area. This drive should take just over an hour from Banff.

31. Grassi Lakes

Viewpoint of Grassi Lakes
View of one of the Grassi Lakes.
  • Distance: 4 km/2.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 200 meters
  • Time needed: About two hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back, or a loop depending on the route you take
  • Location: Just outside of Canmore

Canmore is one of Canada’s best mountainside tourist destinations. Located just over 20 minutes from Banff, there’s no shortage of enjoyable and thrilling things to do in Canmore, with one of the best attractions being the stunning Grassi Lakes!

The hike to Grassi Lakes is a fairly easy one, suitable for pretty much everyone. This 4-kilometer-long (2.5-mile) trail only gains 200 meters (650 feet) in elevation and takes most people about 2 hours to complete there and back. Plus, it’s open all year round!

With that said, if you do want a bit of a challenge, I recommend taking the “more difficult” trail to the lakes. When you start hiking Grassi Lakes Trail you’ll come to a sign that says the more difficult route is to the left. This trail is steeper and involves climbing some slippery stairs near a waterfall. To me, this is the most beautiful route and well worth taking if you’re up to it. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for small children due to the steep steps that can be slippery.

Once you reach Grassi Lakes after completing the trail, you’ll be met with some pretty spectacular views. On a hot summer day, be sure to pack your swimsuit because you’re going to want to jump in!  

2023 Update: Grassi Lakes has now been re-opened for the 2023 season after undergoing a lengthy maintenance period.

32. Grotto Canyon

Hiking through a the frozen Grotto Canyon in winter
  • Distance: 4.2 kilometers/2.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation gain: 220 meters
  • Time needed: 1.5 – 2.5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: The outskirts of Canmore, about a 30-minute drive from Banff town

For one of the best easy hikes around Canmore and Banff, you’ll head to the outskirts of Canmore. With a name like “grotto canyon,” you might expect this hike to be crazy challenging. However, at 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) long, the Grotto Canyon hike is only moderately difficult and easy enough for most fitness levels.

In fact, most people only take a couple of hours to complete it. This is fortunate because this hike is gorgeous and I hope everyone gets the chance to enjoy it!

This hike is great in the summer, winter, and even in the rain! While it is a great summer activity, I think it’s better to see Grotto Canyon in the winter. The canyon’s floor becomes covered in ice and transforms into a winter wonderland!

It is advised to wear crampons for your safety, and really, have you successfully walked on ice without them? You can also book a Grotto Canyon Icewalk tour for an in-depth experience of the area, including information on the ancient pictographs on the walls of the grotto! Most people miss these amazing artifacts, so going with a guide is super helpful. Plus, on the tour, they include crampons and other safety gear, which is great if you don’t have your own.

To access the trail, find the Grotto Mountain parking lot and walk for one kilometer (0.6 miles) before you arrive at the creek that will twist and stretch for approximately one more kilometer. 

The trail to Grotto Canyon is pretty easy to follow and there are numerous signs along the trail to keep you on the right track.

Related Read: If you’re planning on doing this hike in the winter (which, you totally should) be sure to check out these other fun things to do in Canmore in the winter!

33. Rawson Lake

Bailey and her dad at Rawson Lake in the Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada
Bailey and her dad at Rawson Lake in the Kananaskis!
  • Distance: 7 kilometers/4 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation gain: 300 meters
  • Time needed: 3 hours
  • Type of Trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Upper Kananaskis Lake, a 1.5-hour drive from Banff town

Rawson Lake is another hike that we love doing in the area near Banff. While it is definitely one of the more popular hikes in the area, the trail never feels too crowded because it’s so long. I’ve often had huge sections of the trail completely to myself! The trail starts at the Rawson Lake trailhead just west of Upper Kananaskis Lake car park and leads along the lakeshore and past a beautiful waterfall.

The first kilometer/half mile is the steepest part of the trail as you ascend into the forest. Once you’re up the slope, you’ll see it was all worth it as the views over Rawson Lake are unbelievably beautiful! This is the perfect spot to hang out for a few hours and enjoy the view. Be sure to pack snacks! 

If you’re not ready to leave this gorgeous landscape quite yet, you can also hike to the Serreil Ridge. This adds a considerable amount of time and difficulty, so best to be well-prepared for a longer hike. The Serreil Ridge portion should be avoided in winter as it’s in avalanche territory. It is advised to leave it until at least June when the risk is far lower.

If you are planning on completing the hike to Rawson Lake and then up to Serrail Ridge, you can expect it to take around 3-5 hours in total, depending on how many stops you take. It can be quite tiring, but I promise, the views are absolutely worth it!

34. Ha Ling Peak

Bailey stands on a mountain in essential gear for the Canadian Rockies
View overlooking Canmore from Ha Ling Peak.
  • Distance: 7.8 kilometers/4.8 miles return
  • Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
  • Elevation gain: 800 meters
  • Time needed: 4-5 hours
  • Type of trail: Out-and-back
  • Location: Not far from Canmore, about a 30-minute drive from Banff town

Along the Smith Dorrien Trail is the car parking lot for another very popular hike not far from Banff – Ha Ling Peak! This peak is the backdrop for Canmore town and is also one of the best hiking trails in the area.  

Thanks to the Dorrien Trail, you drive up a ton of the mountain’s elevation making summiting this mountain a lot easier than you might think. It still isn’t an easy climb by any means, gaining 800 meters in elevation over 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), but it’s doable to most people with some hiking experience and moderate fitness level.  

Ha Ling Peak trail is a high-traffic trail and as such, is well-marked and easy to follow. The first half of the trail is switchbacks climbing through the forest, whereas the second half will have you climbing stairs to the saddle and then scrambling over rocks to the summit.  

When we climbed Ha Ling Peak it was a very windy day which made the scramble from the saddle to the summit a little difficult and a little scary. Good hiking boots and hiking poles really came in handy for us. I would recommend only tackling Ha Ling Peak when it is clear weather with little wind if possible.  

It takes about 2-3 hours to reach the summit, and then you come back down the same trail you walked up. The way down will take less than half the time the way up did. In total, I would allow 4-5 hours for this hike (it took us just under 4 hours at a pretty fast pace with only one short snack break at the saddle). 

35. East End of Rundle (EEOR)

Bailey stands at the summit of East End of Rundle in Canmore
Bailey stands at the summit of East End of Rundle in Canmore
  • Distance: 5.8 kilometers/3.6 miles return
  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Elevation gain: 807 meters
  • Time needed: 5-6 hours
  • Type of trail: Out and back 
  • Location: Around 15 minutes from Canmore and a 30-minute drive from Banff

The East End of Rundle hike, or “Eeyore” as it’s known by local hiking aficionados, is a truly epic hike, but it’s not for the faint of heart. You can technically do it all year round, but you’ll definitely need crampons during winter, and lots of layers – winter hiking experience is also handy. We also recommend using hiking poles at any time of year, because they really do make the scrambling sections of the trail so much easier (and trust us, you really don’t want to make this hike any more difficult than it needs to be).

The trailhead is next to the parking lot, and it used to be a little tricky to find until fellow hikers helpfully labeled it using rocks. So when you see “EEOR” spelled out in stones, you’ll know that you’re in the right place! 

This trail doesn’t ease you into the hike gently. It’s steep right from the beginning, and there are many scrambling sections involved. This trail isn’t very well marked, but if you’re lucky, there will be hikers ahead of you who you can follow. If not, look carefully for footprints, painted rocks, and other signs of activity – again, this is not one for novice hikers to do alone! 

However, we will say that for experienced hikers, the effort is totally worth it. What we love about this hike is that it takes you through a diverse range of landscapes, despite its relatively short length. You’ll pass through forests, rocky sections, and enjoy amazing views of the Spray Lakes and Bow Valley. 

Some hikers like to time their ascent so that they’ll be making their way down the mountain at sunset. This certainly is a beautiful way to experience the EEOR trail, but if you want to do this remember to bring a head torch for the final forested section and be extra careful with your footing. 

Where to Stay in Banff

At the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
Me, in front of the Fairmont.

Now that you have a huge list of hikes in Banff to tackle, you’re going to want to find a place to stay so you can start hiking! Finding a hotel is one of the most important parts of your trip and in Banff, the selection can be overwhelming and expensive.

There are lots of different areas to consider when it comes to deciding where to stay in Banff National Park. There are also plenty of great hotels in Banff town to consider. Below are some hotels we recommend for a variety of budgets:

Samesun Banff Hostel – Budget-backpacker hostel

A great budget hostel with dorm rooms. The Samesun Banff Hostel is perfect for those on a tight budget who want to stay in the heart of Banff town. This is only a backpacker place though, as there are no private rooms available. Dorms can be booked on either Booking.com or Hostelworld.

Banff Inn – Budget-friendly hotel

The Banff Inn is the perfect mix of comfort and affordability. It has a budget-friendly price tag but also comes with lots of luxuries. The hotel is located right on Banff Ave and all rooms are air-conditioned. In the hotel, you’ll find a hot tub, steam room, and sauna, as well as a restaurant and bar. You should book the Banff Inn well in advance as this is one of the most popular hotels in Banff.

Banff Rocky Mountain Resort – Mid-range hotel

Pushing up into the mid-range budget, the Banff Rocky Mountain Resort has a swimming pool, hot tub, gym, and all the rooms have kitchenettes or full kitchens. It is the perfect place for families since two and three-bedroom units are also on offer. The location is peaceful on Tunnel Mountain but yet only a 5-minute drive from Banff town. You can check availability and book Banff Rocky Mountain Resort online here.

Fairmont Banff Springs – Luxury hotel

The Fairmont Banff Springs is easily the most luxurious hotel in Banff. It’s not cheap but the place is simply incredible – it seriously looks like a castle! Inside the hotel, you’ll find 11 restaurants, 14 shops, bowling, bars, a top-rated spa, a couple of pools, and so much more. It’s a luxury resort-like stay and the only one of its kind in Banff. I

f you’re visiting Banff on a honeymoon then this should be the hotel you choose! You can check prices and room availability for the Fairmont online here.

Important info: I suggest booking a place in Banff ASAP! Using Booking.com is great too because lots of hotels offer free cancellation so just lock in a place (or two) for now and make the final decision later!

Other Things to do While You’re in Banff

Banff gondola building and boardwalk on a early spring day with lots of snow
The top of the Banff Gondola
Bailey and her mum pose for a photo at Moraine Lake
Moraine Lake tours are a must!

Hiking is just one of many things to do in Banff. But with so much to choose from, it might feel overwhelming. So below, I’ve picked some of my other favorite activities in the area to help you out!

  • Look for wildlife – Banff is home to some pretty incredible wildlife. You might just spot elk, bears, deer, foxes, coyotes, bighorn sheep, and more! The best chance you have of seeing the most critters is on a wildlife tour in Banff. We really liked this small group tour where the guides tailor the itinerary to recent wildlife spottings and you get to see highlights of the national park along the way.
  • Relax at the hot springs – Especially if you’re planning some hikes in Banff, a soak at the Banff Upper Hot Springs is a must! Not only do you get some great mountain views at one of Alberta’s best hot springs, but it’s just SO relaxing. While prices have recently gone up, it’s still relatively affordable for Banff standards at $16.50 CAD per person.
  • Ride the Banff Gondola – If you want the best vantage point in town, ride up the Banff Gondola! You’ll climb 698 meters (2,292 feet) to the top of Sulphur Mountain where you’ll have a view of six different mountain ranges. Tickets do sell out in the busy season, so make sure to purchase yours ahead of time!
  • Explore Banff town – While many nature-based activities are nearby, you shouldn’t neglect Banff town itself! Start your morning by visiting one of the cute local cafes, or grab patio drinks along Banff Avenue in the afternoon. To avoid traffic, check out the pedestrian-only Bear Street, with even more restaurants, cafes, and shops. And if that’s not enough, there’s also a Farmers Market every Wednesday in the summertime.

Renting a Car in Alberta

A car drives along the Icefields Parkway
The drive is mesmerizing!

If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.

Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.

Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia. Read our honest review of Discover Cars here for more details!

Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!

Thanks for reading!

Daniel and Bailey take a selfie in Campbell River, BC
Thanks for reading!

There really is so much to see in Banff! We love that this area has so many opportunities to get outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery whether you’re an avid hiker or seeking a casual stroll. If you are visiting in the summer you’ll catch the warm sunny weather and experience the flowing rivers and waterfalls. Winter is an even more magical time to visit where you can see those same waterfalls but in a frozen blue.

Whenever you visit, you’ll be sure to find something unique while exploring the great outdoors. If you found this blog helpful, be sure to check our other Banff blogs:

33 FREE Things to do in Banff, Canada

8 BEST Johnston Canyon Tours from Banff

Where to Stay in Banff for Skiing

5 BEST Moraine Lake Tours