Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada offers a world full of breathtaking scenery, turquoise-blue lakes, blossoming wildflowers, and roaming wildlife. Hikers can engross themselves in nearly 1,000 miles of trails. Whether you choose to embark on an easy, yet scenic hike or a more strenuous trek in the backcountry of Alberta, you’ll surely feel proud of yourself once you’re sitting atop a rock perched on an alpine pass. Take a look at eight of the best day hikes in Banff National Park where you can indulge your profound sense of wonder. Book your Banff vacation rental today, so you’ll be close to all of these phenomenal trails!
1. Cory Pass, Mt. Edith Circuit
This hike requires some leg power, but the view from Cory Pass is one of the most spectacular and rewarding in all of Banff National Park. The south face of Mr. Louis is a great place to sit and enjoy a packed lunch before you continue on and descend down the other side and around Mt. Edith. You can also go back the way you came. This loop is just over eight miles and should take you five to six hours. With an elevation gain of 328 feet, this hike is best for moderate hikers.
2. Lake Agnes Tea House
The Lake Agnes Tea House was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1901 as a refuge for hikers and is still a great place to fuel up. Enjoy specialty teas and delicious homemade baked goods near the idyllic alpine waters of Lake Agnes. The relatively easy hike to the Tea House starts on the shores of Lake Louise near the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel and climbs uphill on a wide switch-backed path for 2.2 miles. For an added challenge, continue nearly one mile around the far end of Lake Agnes and up switchbacks to the top of the Big Beehive for views of the Bow Valley and the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Louise.
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3. Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass
The hike from Moraine Lake through Larch Valley to Sentinel Pass offers the most spectacular view into Paradise Valley. This is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park and can get crowded, especially during the end of September when the larch trees turn from green to gold. The Larch tree is the only member of the evergreen family whose needles change color and drop to the ground, so it’s definitely a site to behold.
4. Cascade Amphitheatre
This hike begins at the Mt. Norquay ski area, crosses a bridge over Forty Mile Creek, and zigzags its way through dense forest to the Cascade Amphitheatre. Impressively enclosed by limestone cliffs and surrounded by wildflowers, this large natural amphitheater clocks in a just under 7000 feet. It’s one of the longer and more strenuous day trips near Banff, not because it’s particularly difficult, but because the route can be tricky and dangerous at certain time of the year. Be sure to do all of your research before heading out on this one.
5. Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass
This trail climbs steeply through a forest of lodgepole and spruce before opening out into meadows that lead to the shores of Bourgeau Lake, a small and pristine sub-alpine lake surrounded by awe-inspiring mountain summits. Keep going 1.4 miles past several smaller bodies of water to the lake at Harvey Pass for impressive views of Mt. Assiniboine, “The Matterhorn of the Rockies.” If you’re really up to the challenge, Harvey Pass provides the opportunity to bag two summits on the same day before returning the way you came.
6. Plain of Six Glaciers
This hike is by far one of the most accessible and scenic hikes in Banff National Park. The trail offers expansive views of the impressive mountain that surround Lake Louise, including Mt. Lefroy, Mt. Victoria and the Victoria Glacier. Enjoy a snack at the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse before continuing a little over a half mile for a view of Abbot Pass and the Abbot Pass Hut. If you didn’t grab a bite at the teahouse, this is a great spot to have your lunch instead.
7. Moraine Lake Shoreline
This hike around the Moraine Lake Shoreline is probably the easiest way to appreciate the beauty of this famous alpine lake. The flat, easy trail weaves its way through shoreline trees and offers extraordinary views of the Ten Peaks, a dramatic row of summits all over 10,000 feet. For an alternative view of the indigo waters and nearby Tower of Babel, continue hiking up the Rockpile. Your total hike will still be under two miles. Stay in the upscale Moraine Lake Lodge or a nearby vacation rental for the easiest access to this trail and views of the lake 24/7.
8. Saddleback Pass
This hike promises promises stunning views of the 11,000-foot Mt. Temple and, in fall, the stunning gold shimmer of alpine larches. This hike will only take you three to four hours but is on the moderate side at over four and a half miles and with an elevation gain of 1,970 feet. From Saddleback Pass, you can add an extra two hours to your return trip by hiking up Fairview Mountain. Here, you’ll have a spectacular birds-eye view of Lake Louise.
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