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Hiking in Banff

Family enjoying beautiful hike in Banff

Banff National Park is a hiker's paradise. Even for the uninitiated there is the option of hiring a guide or joining an organized hike making Banff accessible to all.

With a number of popular trails to take, do plenty of research and check with the Banff Information Centre before setting off to find the trail that is right for you. Whether you want to get the maximum out of the staggeringly high mountains, see wildflowers fluttering in the breeze or watch the ripple of the lakes, there is a trail for you. Regardless of the one you choose, all are guaranteed to let you breathe in the fresh mountain air and take in the wonder of your surroundings.

Popular hikes and trails in Banff and surroundings

Tunnel Mountain: this is one of Banff's classic treks from the early days of the opening of the National Park. The main draw of this trail is the overview it provides of the area including the Bow Valley and Mount Rundle. The trek is classed as easy and is a 4.3 kilometers (2.7 miles) round trip up to an elevation of 300 meters (948 feet). The walk takes 2 to 3 hours.

Johnson Canyon: if you want to see water rushing through limestone canyons and potholes, all created by years of tumbling waterfalls, this is the hike for you. With the level of difficulty specified as easy you ascend to 215 meters (700 feet) on a 5.8 kilometer (3.6 mile) round trip. The trail should take between 4 to 5 hours.

Stanley Glacier Banff

Stanley Glacier: this popular and often trodden trek gives hikers a varied view of the natural sights on the Canadian Rocky Mountains. With tall peaks above and the ever diminishing Stanley Glacier below, this trek presents more of a challenge and is considered as moderate in terms of difficulty. A half day is needed for the walk which is 4.2 kilometers (2.6 miles) one way rising up to an elevation of 365 meters (1,200 feet).

Boom Lake: another hike classified as easy, but which will take you half a day as you make your way through an area punctuated with mountains, limestone walls and the superbly clear Boom Lake. This 5.1 kilometer hike (3.2 miles) one way is at an elevation of 185 meters (600 feet).

Whichever trail you choose, do remember to take care. Hiking has inherent risks ranging from the constantly changing conditions of weather to the equally unpredictable landscape which can be the victim of falling rocks and mudslides. And there are also the grizzly bears to consider. Be sure to take local advice, set out on all hikes well prepared and you will be fine.

Rising early and making full use of your time in this spectacular area is well worth the effort as Banff offers some of the best hiking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and is likely to be one of the highlights of your trip to the area.

For more information on hiking in the Canadian Rockies please visit the official Banff National Park page.