5 Banff Hikes from Easy to Moderate – Best Hikes in Banff National Park

The best hikes in Banff all provide exceptional views and vary from short easy hikes to full day adventures in the Rockies. These five Banff hikes will get you outdoors exploring the beauty of one of the most famous national parks in the world. All of these make great day trips from Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore, or Calgary.

Some of the easy hikes in Banff are suitable for beginners or non-hikers, like Johnston Canyon to the first waterfall. Then there are more difficult hikes like the Plain of Six Glaciers which is only advisable to hikers with some experience. The best thing about Banff is the camping and hiking so get out and enjoy the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Find your new favorite hiking trail!

 

BEST hikes in BANFF NATIONAL PARK CANADA

 

Although hiking alone is not advisable in grizzly bear country, if you select the more popular hikes in Banff you will have fellow hikers on the trail. While some people do hike alone in bear country (yes I do sometimes) you have to be aware of the risks and be fully prepared if you go hiking alone. Always bring bear spray!

Always check the weather forecast and bring layers of clothing for the mountains. Weather is unpredictable and wintry conditions can occur anytime of year in the Rockies.

 

What to Bring on Day Hikes in Canadian Rockies

Comfortable hiking shoes are a must on any hike in the Rockies. While in some cases you can get away with sneakers, for instance Johnston Canyon or Peyto Overlook via Bow Summit, if you do a lot of hiking it’s wise to invest in a great pair of hiking shoes or boots.

Refillable water bottle – I use a stainless steel 32 oz bottle with a loop in the cap so it’s easy to hang the bottle from a carabiner clip to my day bag.

Sunscreen is essential in the higher elevations. Don’t be fooled into thinking a cloudy day does not warrant sunscreen. With every 300 m (1,000 ft) gain in elevation UV exposure increases by 4% so bring some sun protection with you on your hikes.

Snacks to keep your energy level up while you are hiking. For certain hikes you can purchase food, like the tea house hikes in Lake Louise.

A good sun hat will protect you from the bright sun and it also helps shield you from rainy weather.

Layered clothing is a must while hiking in the mountains. The weather changes rapidly and without warning. Bring layers so you can be comfortable on your hike.

Small backpack to carry your water, snacks, extra clothing, and other essentials for your day hike.

Bear Spray is important when hiking in bear country. Bring bear spray and know how to use it. Even on trails where you would never imagine a grizzly bear the possibility is real. In 2016 a grizzly bear wandered down the trailhead at Johnston Canyon!

 

Banff Hikes – 5 Best Hikes in Banff

 

Johnston Canyon - people walk along elevated walkway at the most popular hiking trail in Banff National Park

Scenic hike along Johnston Creek at Johnston Canyon

 

Johnston Canyon Hike

Starting with one of my favorite waterfall hikes and the perfect hike for a family outing in Banff – Johnston Canyon is ideal. Why? Because it’s 3 hikes in 1. You can choose to do the Lower Falls, Upper Falls, and then the Ink Pots, all from the same trailhead. Read my detailed blog post about hiking Johnston Canyon all the way to the Ink Pots.

This hike is extremely popular and considering Banff receives millions of visitors each year, it’s best to go early in the morning to avoid the biggest crowds.

Johnston Canyon Hike Info

  • Type of hike – Out and back
  • Distance – 2.2 km (1.4 miles) to the Lower Falls and 5.5 km (3.5 miles) to Ink Pots
  • Elevation – 30 m (100 ft) to Lower Falls and 335 m (1,100 ft) to the Ink Pots
  • Time – 1 hour for lower falls, 2 hours for upper falls, or 4 – 5 hours for Ink Pots hike
  • Difficulty – Lower Falls and Upper Falls are easy, the trail to Ink Pots is moderate difficulty
  • Best time to hike – May through October, and you can do the ice hike in the winter!
  • Dogs allowed on trail? Yes, but dogs must be on leash at all times
  • Facilities at trailhead – Pit toilets, garbage and recycling, parking lot

 

Johnston Canyon upper falls pool created by upper waterfall at Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park Alberta Canada

Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon

 

Plain of Six Glaciers Hike

This one is in the top 3 on my Alberta hiking list for this year! I already made one day trip out to Banff but I will make a plan to go and hike Plain of Six Glaciers soon! Maybe during Stampede in Calgary, it would be the perfect escape.

Plain of Six Glaciers hike features a backcountry tea house as one of your rewards for hiking this beautiful trail in Banff. The other rewards are the amazing views of Lake Louise and the Canadian Rockies.

You can combine the Plain of Six Glaciers hike with Lake Agnes Tea House hike to make a big 14.6 km (9 miles) loop from the Chateau Lake Louise.

Plain of Six Glacier Tea House Info

  • Open from 9 am to 5 pm from early June through mid-October
  • CASH only
  • Homemade eats, desserts, and tea of course!
  • There is no electricity at the tea house – it’s off the grid

 

 

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A post shared by Shana (@nashvillefoodbabe) on

 

Plain of Six Glacier Hike Info

  • Type of hike – Out and back
  • Distance – 13.8 km (8.6 miles)
  • Elevation gain – 587 m (1,926 ft)
  • Time – Allow 4 – 6 hours
  • Difficulty – Moderate
  • Best time to hike – late spring to early autumn
  • Pets allowed on Plain of Six Glaciers trail? Yes, but must be on leash at all times
  • Facilities at trailhead – Chateau Lake Louise! You can enjoy a hearty meal before your hike, or grab something to-go to enjoy during the hike. And you can use real bathrooms :)

 

 

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Mount Lefroy. Hiking Plain of the Six Glaciers to a tea house sitting at 2,100m.

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Parker Ridge Trail

One of my favorite stops on the Icefields Parkway from Lake Louise to Jasper is the Parker Ridge Trail. Stretch your legs a bit and enjoy the outstanding views of Saskatchewan Glacier. This is the perfect stop for a picnic lunch on Hwy 93 on your way to Jasper….or on your way to Banff from Jasper :)

Read my full hiking post on Parker Ridge Trail here!

 

Hiker's view of Saskatchewan Glacier at Parker Ridge trail

Hiker’s view of Saskatchewan Glacier at Parker Ridge trail

 

Parker Ridge Trail Hike Info

  • Type of hike – Out and back
  • Distance – 5.4 km (3.4 miles)
  • Elevation – 250 m (820 ft)
  • Time – Allow 3 hours
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Best time to hike – June through early October
  • Dogs allowed on trail? Yes, but dogs must be on leash at all times
  • Facilities at trailhead – Pit toilets, recycling/trash bins, and parking lot

 

Parker Ridge Trail map shows switchbacks up to overlook area in Banff National Park Alberta

Parker Ridge Trail map

 

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike

Enjoy amazing views of Lake Louise on this beautiful hike to a tea house at the summit. This is a great hike!

Lake Agnes is a very popular hike in Banff so it’s best to get there early to avoid the crowds. Park at the Chateau Lake Louise parking lot. Walk along the path next to Lake Louise and watch for the Lake Agnes Trail sign on the right – get all the details from my full Lake Agnes hiking post here.

Lake Agnes Tea House Info

  • CASH only
  • Open from early June to early October
  • Hours: 8 am to 5 pm

 

Beautiful views from the deck of Lake Agnes Tea House in Banff National Park - open from early June to early October

Lake Agnes Tea House in Banff National Park – open from early June to early October

 

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike Info

  • Type of hike – out and back
  • Distance – 7 km (4.35 km)
  • Elevation – 400 m (1,300 ft)
  • Time – allow around 2 – 3 hours
  • Difficulty – moderate
  • Best time to hike – May through October
  • Pets allowed on trail – must be on leash at all times
  • Facilities at trailhead – Chateau Lake Louise has several restaurants and of course bathrooms

 

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike - this view of Lake Agnes and the Rocky Mountains is your reward!

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike – this view of Lake Agnes and the Rocky Mountains is your reward!

 

Peyto Overlook – Bow Summit Hike

Peyto Overlook via Bow Summit trail is another of my favorite stops on the Icefields Parkway highway. If you want to avoid the crowds go very early morning or in the evening during the long summer days in Alberta.

This is one of the tour bus stops BUT they only go to the viewing platform and then move on. YOU will go hike the Bow Summit trail to the AMAZING Peyto Overlook and enjoy spectacular views of Peyto Lake and Peyto Glacier.

Read my full post with all the details for hiking Peyto Overlook and avoid the crowds!

 

Lines show the layers of sedimentary rock in the Canadian Rockies at Peyto Lake Alberta

Lines show the layers of sedimentary rock in the Canadian Rockies

 

Peyto Overlook – Bow Summit Hike Info

  • Type of hike – Out and back
  • Distance – 5.8 km (3.6 miles)
  • Elevation – 115 m (375 ft)
  • Time – Allow 2 hours
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Best time to hike – June through October
  • Facilities at trailhead – Pit toilets, recycling/trash, parking lot

 

Bow Summit Peyto Lake Trail iconic fox shape turquoise lake

Bow Summit Peyto Lake Trail iconic fox shape turquoise lake

 

Enjoy hiking in Banff National Park and exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains! If you have a favorite hike in Banff please let me know in the comments below.

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5 Best hikes Banff National Park Canada

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 4 of living a nomadic life, roadtripping around the USA and Canada and writing about her experiences. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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