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Hiking in the Rockies

Hiking in the Rockies is an experience of pure adrenaline, and delight. Whether you are a beginner hiker or an experienced scrambler, there is literally something for everyone in our wide, open, amazing backyard that is the Rockies. We hope you find these links useful for planning your trip to Banff, Lake Louise, or Field, British Columbia. Banff National Park and Yoho National Park both offer awesome hiking trails, and the experience you have hiking these trails will be one you will never forget.

Please ask our front desk at check-in if there are currently any guided hikes being offered. Parks Canada is a great resource for guided hikes.

Some of our favourite hikes are listed below.

Johnston Canyon Falls

Area: Banff
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Experience the thundering power of water on rock. It’s just a 1.1 kilometer hike up a paved trail and catwalks to the Lower Falls (which are wheelchair accessible); the Upper Falls are a further 1.6 kilometers. With its sharp drop-offs, the canyon trail definitely has an exciting edge.

With proper footwear and ice cleats, this is an excellent winter hike as well.

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 Photo courtesy of Paul Zizka/BLLT

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The Hoodoos

Area: Banff
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

On Tunnel Mountain Drive, east of Buffalo Mountain Lodge. This short, easily walked trail offers a not-to-be missed sight: the enchanting hoodoos, which are natural formations above the Bow River. Excellent viewpoints, interpretive information and just a short jaunt from the Lodge.

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Photo credit: Paul Zizka/BLLT

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Minnewanka Loop

Area: Banff
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Beginning at Highway 1 take east exit to townsite.  Slow down and enjoy the drive. This meandering scenic drive not only takes you along the shore of Lake Minnewanka, but also through the long-since deserted coal mining town and industrial site of Upper Bankhead and Lower Bankhead, respectively. Two-hour boat tours of the lake are also available (call 403.762.3473 for information).

Other activities on the loop include fishing, hiking, canoeing, swimming (seasonal), picnicking and cyclying.

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 Photo courtesy of Paul Zizka/BLLT

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Tunnel Mountain

Area: Banff
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Beginning on Tunnel Mountain Drive, minutes from Buffalo Mountain Lodge, this moderate and short hike offers spectacular 360 degree views of the Banff townsite and surrounding area. This trail is usually the first to melt its snow cover each spring.

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Sundance Trail

Area: Banff
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Linked to the Marsh Loop Trail by the Cave and Basin, this wide, paved trail is popular with both hikers & cyclists. At the 3.7-kilometre mark is a panic shelter; beyond a 2.1 – kilometer trail for hikers only that loops into the canyon.

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Photo courtesy of Paul Zizka/BLLT

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Castle Mountain

Area: Between Banff & Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Buffalo Mountain Lodge & Deer Lodge

Once named for American president Dwight Eisenhower, the fortress-like Castle Mountain is midway between Lake Louise and Banff at the junction of the Trans-Canada Highway and Highway 93 South. A long but rewarding hike or ski can be made to the backside of the mountain.

Parks Canada map

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Lake Agnes Tea House

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

Lake Agnes Tea House is a family run tea house situated near Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada. At an altitude of 2,135 m or 7,005 ft, the Tea House is located in a lovely hanging valley on the shores of Lake Agnes. After a forested 3.5 km hike, with an elevation gain of 400 m or 1,300 ft, the valley opens to reveal spectacular Lake Agnes. Together with Mirror Lake and Lake Louise, these lakes are often referred to as the ‘Lakes in the Clouds’. For those preferring a less strenuous approach, horses are available for hire at Brewster or Timberline Stables in Lake Louise.

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Photo credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

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Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

The hike to the Plain of Six Glaciers is one of Banff National Park’s classic hikes. The hike begins at Chateau Lake Louise which is located 5 minutes from Deer Lodge. From the parking lot, it’s 5.5 kms to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Continue another 1.6 kms along the trail to the viewpoint for a closer view of the glaciers.

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The Great Divide

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

The eight-kilometer stretch of 1A Highway west of Lake Louise to the Great Divide is no longer open to motorized traffic, making it an ideal cycling, walking and wheelchair-accessible route. The trail begins from Lake Louise village,  a 5 minute drive from Deer Lodge.

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Photo courtesy of Tim Vanhorn

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Moraine Lake Hike

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

The hike around the Moraine Lake Shoreline is the easiest way to appreciate the beauty of this famous alpine lake. A flat, easy trail weaves its way through shoreline trees and offers extraordinary views of the Ten Peaks, a series of encircling summits all over 10,000 feet. Hike up the Rock Pile for an alternative view of these turquoise waters and the nearby Tower of Babel. (3 km return)

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Photo credit: Banff Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka Photography

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Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

The hike into Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass is a must for any hiker wanting to have an experience that closely resembles the backcountry of Banff National Park. This moderate hike offers remarkable views of the Ten Peaks and, if you head up Sentinel Pass, the dreamlike vista of Paradise Valley. As the name suggests, this valley is spectacular in autumn, when the larch needles turn gold. With appropriate preparation, experienced hikers can continue from Sentinel Pass to the summit of Mt. Temple (3543m) for more jaw-dropping views. The trail leaves from Moraine Lake Parking lot. (11.6 km return; difficulty = moderate)

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Saddleback Pass / Mt. Fairview

Area: Lake Louise
Closest CRMR lodge: Deer Lodge

The hike to this gap between Mt. Fairview and Saddle Peak promises stunning views of the 11,000-foot Mt. Temple and, in autumn, the stunning gold shimmer of alpine larches. Scramble up Saddle Peak to enhance your views of Mt. Temple and Paradise Valley below. From Saddleback Pass, hike up Fairview Mountain (an additional 2-hour RT, 400m up) for a spectacular birds-eye view of Lake Louise. The trail leaves from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, 5 minutes from Deer Lodge. (7.4 km return; difficulty = challenging)

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Takkakkaw Falls

Area: Field
Closest CRMR lodge: Emerald Lake Lodge

Take the Yoho Valley Road (3 kilometers east of Field) north for 13 kilometers to one of Canada’s highest and most dramatic waterfalls. Open to vehicle traffic in the summer and to cross country skiers in the winter. The trail is trackset for first 7 kilometers only during the winter.

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Burgess Shale

Area: Field
Closest CRMR lodge: Emerald Lake Lodge

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Burgess Shale formation – high atop Wapta Mountain and Mount Stephen – is considered one of the world’s most significant fossil finds. Once an ancient sea-bed, the Burgess Shale is a rich deposit of tiny fossilized animals.

Highly protected, the area is NOT open to the public, although guided hikes of the Burgess Shale Walcott Quarry and Mount Stephen Fossil Beds are available during summer months.

Hikers must be in reasonable to good physic al condition; hikes last an entire day. 1.800.343.3006.

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Emerald Lake Trail

Area: Emerald Lake
Closest CRMR lodge: Emerald Lake Lodge

An easy five-kilometer hike or cross country ski around our picturesque lake, beginning from the bridge by Cilantro on the Lake. Free guided walks are available weekly throughout the summer. They are led by friendly, knowledgeable Parks Canada Staff who introduce park visitors to the history, geology and geography of the area.

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Natural Bridge

Area: Field
Closest CRMR lodge: Emerald Lake Lodge

Located eight kilometers south of Emerald Lake Lodge, the Natural Bridge spans the rushing waters of Kicking Horse River and is one of the park’s most popular and accessible destinations. A marvel at any time of year, the bridge can be reached by hiking, cross country skiing, snowshoeing or vehicle.

Photo credit: Destination BC/JF Bergeron

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Yoho Lake from Emerald Lake

Area: Field
Closest CRMR lodge: Emerald Lake Lodge

Take the Emerald Lake trail 1.4kms to the Yoho Lake Trail, which leads away from Emerald Lake. The gently sloped path increases in steepness near Yoho Pass. The top of the pass offers a breathtaking view of Emerald Lake and the Van Horne Range. The trail descends to Yoho Lake and rewards hikers with a view of Mount Wapta. Trail length: 8 kilometers.

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Additional Information

For additional trail information: contact Yoho National Park Headquarters in Field or call 250.343.6783

Hike Alberta is a great resource to check elevation, distance and difficulty of a variety of hikes.

Banff Lake Louise Tourism is also a wonderful resource to find out more about classic hikes in the Rockies and more.

Looking for a guided hike? Canadian Rockies Alpine can take you on your next adventure or BackRoads offers guided tours of the area.

Of course, once you decide which hike to do, the next step is booking your stay at Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff, Deer Lodge in Lake Louise, or Emerald Lake Lodge in Field, BC! We have the perfect hiking package for you.

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