Mountains/Lakes / Falls, Banff
Let's go hike Sulphur Mountain - Note to self, this is uphill all the way!
The hike up Sulphur Mountain is 5.5km, and not done easily. You criss cross as you go up the mountain. The elevation of the hike is 742 meters. It will take between 2 - 5 hours to hike the mountain. Once you get to the top there is a gift shop, restaurant and cafeteria. You can leave the platform and follow trails along the mountain if you wish. You'll have a panoramic view of the Rocky Mountains on top of Sulphur Mountain.
It used to be that if you hiked up the mountain that your gondola ride down was free but now you have to pay for your ticket back down to the base of the mountain. If you don't feel like walking up the mountain you can take the 8 minute gondola ride both ways.
The Rock pile at Moraine Lake is right by the front of the lake as you arrive. The view from the top is excellent and surprise surprise, it is one of the favorite places for couples to take their wedding/engagement pictures.
I highly recommend hiking in Banff - in town as well as other areas of the Park.
You can find a list of hikes here:
JOHNSON FALLS/CANYON & INK POTS
Banff area trails are easy to access and there are many level of trail. If you're serious about hiking, go early in the day. In high season, buses unload groups of tourists at popular hikes like Johnson Canyon and the walkways are crammed with people. That said, Johnson is worth a look and the beginning part of the trail is pretty easy.
If you're looking for more scenery and more of a challenge, continue past Johnson Falls (both Upper and Lower) and head for the Ink Pots. You exit the trail into a valley where the pools of water are tinted beautiful colours by minerals in the soil. It's a great moderate hike.
I strongly recommend you check with the Parks Office in Banff (224 Banff Avenue) before you start out on a hike. They will make you aware of any important wildlife sightings (bear, cougar, wolf) on a daily basis before you set out. This is especially important if you're continuing all the way to the Ink Pots. The valley is quite open with a large stream running through it and - in the summer - a significant source of food and water for wildlife. There was a sow with cubs in the area in the early morning prior to my hike (they cleared out before I got started) and I definitely saw prints from a large cat.
Information Centre details here: http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/visit/visit5.aspx#information
The access point for the Bow River hike is in town which makes it a nice choice for a day hike. While I didn't do the entire trail, I did follow it beside the Bow River for quite a while. It's a nice easy trail which gives you the opportunity to look at some great scenery that is (almost) in town!
See info here:
BOATHOUSE TO BEEHIVE AND BEYOND
Lake Louise is fantastic. The water is amazing the chateau is worth a look and the hikes are great.
It's a busy spot in high season. In particular, the Lakeshore Trail is easy (and connects to many of the other trails and you'll find the Tea House crammed with visitors looking for a view and a snack. However, if you're interested in a longer hike with bigger views (and more difficulty), try the Lake Agnes hike and definitely take a side trip to Big or Little Beehive. The people thin out and on a nice day, you can see forever!
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/activ1/c.aspx#UPPER LAKE LOUISE AREA
Pros:Beautiful scenery. Great photo ops. Well marked/maintained trails. Helpful park peeps.
Cons:"Easy" spots are heavily touristed in high season. Watch for wildlife.
In a nutshell:Big, beautiful Banff.
Just 10 km out of Banff town you will come to the turnoff for the 14 km drive by beautiful Lake Minnewanka and Two Jack Lake. We took this drive twice during our 7 day stay, the first time late afternoon on a mid June day, where we saw the lake sparkling in the late afternoon sun and again early one morning when we were attempting to sight some animals in the wild.
Along the side of the road we saw some Bighorn Sheep, they managed to stop all traffic and some cars just stopped in the middle of the road, got out and started taking photos, so be on the alert when driving these winding roads.
There are many picnic sites and hiking trails for you to enjoy as well as the boat launching facilities and boat hire for Lake Minnewanka.
There are several lakes near Banff where you can rent a canoe. While a bit pricey, it's actually a great experience to be out on still, stunningly turquoise waters, gazing around at mountains on every side. I would recommend it for anyone--I had never canoed before, and did fairly well at steering the canoe.
While you can rent a canoe at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, I would recommend Emerald Lake in B.C. as the best of the three for canoeing. It's less crowded here, and you'll get a better view of the lake than you could by walking the trail along the shore, and you can go from end to end in one hour.
I didn't expect to find Hoodoo's in Banff!
We were travelling along Tunnel Mountain Road, when we came across the Hoodoo Viewpoint. We parked the car and went for look, saw a beautiful view of the Hoodoo's and the Columbia River. These vertical standing pillars of deposits had stood the test of time.
Continuing on Tunnel Mountain Drive, we came across a sharp curve, here the name changed to Buffalo St. This was named Surprise Corner, and what a surprise, a beautiful view of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel set in the midst of a sea of green fir trees.
I could hear water, and wondered where was it coming from, a look below, and there were the Bow Falls.
FOR ALL YOU MOVIE BUFFS.......
At the Bow Falls, Marilyn Monroe frantically tried to regain control of her river raft in the movie "River of No Return" with Robert Mitchum.
I couldn't get a photo of them, was a bit hard.
Both of the Lakes are located on the Lake Minnewanka Loop drive that begins from Banff township.
Both of these lakes were very pretty. It was early morning, and a slight breeze was blowing, so I missed out on the excellent reflections you would see of the surrounding Mountains when the Lakes are calm. Never mind, it still was lovely, and worth the visit.
Two Jack Lake has two campgrounds (a main site and a lakeside site), picnicking, and canoeing, plus we saw Deer and more Bighorn Sheep. You may see elk, bears, cougars, wolves and more.
This is a small round trip we did from Banff.
Lake Minnewanka has had quite a few names. The Stoney people called it “Minn-waki” or “Lake of the Spirits" and were fearful of this lake for its resident spirits, and the early settler's called it Devil's Lake.
We were here early morning, and all was quiet. No other Tourist's, and too early to do the Lake Minnewanka Boat Cruise. This costs $44 for an hour's cruise. More info on the website.
They also hold a Dragon Boat festival in the middle of August each year, see the website.......
Right beside and on the road beside the Lake, were quite a few Bighorn sheep. They looked quite peaceful lying down, enjoying the early morning sunshine.
You may also see bald eagles, ospreys, elk, and deer
Tip here.........IF YOU WANT TO SEE THESE SHEEP, THEN COME HERE. They are here most of the time.
Mount Norquay is only 6kms from Banff.
It was Summer when we were on the Mountain, and there was no snow, but instead, Bighorn Sheep.
If you are here in Winter, it must be pretty good for skiing, as quite a few important events have been held here.
The resort has hosted many international ski-jumping competitions.
We just enjoyed the fantastic views from the lookout.
The Mountains, and zillions of Fir trees, and Banff in the middle of it all, it was beautiful!
Wow!! A MUST DO AND SEE is JOHNSTON CANYON.
We made an early start to the day for our drive up the Bow Valley. I am so glad we did, as there was so much to see and do on the way. This gave us a little more time.
We parked our car in the lot at Johnston Canyon, and headed towards the lodge where small Chalet's and Toilets were located, this is where our walk began.
The path was in good condition, and there is railing alongside the pretty blue water creek.
Aspen trees and Douglas Fir Trees lined the track and the Mountains. We did see marks on them where something had been clawing, would it be a Bear? Well, we didn't meet "Mr. Bear!"
10 minutes later, and we were in a small canyon, formed less than ten thousand years ago when the glaciers began to retreat from the park. It was spectacular, the pathway as well, as the path was hanging over the edge, and we went through tunnels, quite exciting!
The rushing, roaring water of the creek was right beside me.
There are 7 Waterfalls, the 1st ones, "the Lower Falls", were just 20mins walk from the start, and very easy to reach [1km] These are a spectacular 20 metre high cascade, with the viewing platform nearly underneath the falls on the other side of a natural tunnel, carved into the hillside by the rushing waters.
The trail follows the canyon’s edge for another kilometre, passing by five smaller waterfalls and pools.
Near the final descent to the Upper Falls, watch the white limestone cliffs across the canyon for bighorn sheep and mountain goats, they are often here in Spring & Autumn.
At 2.7 kms, I reached the 40metre Upper Falls, where a viewing platform has been built out over the creek so you can get a good look at them. In Winter, these Falls freeze, I would love to see that!
You can continue onto the Inkpots, I didn't.
If you can, walk to the Upper Falls, you will find it is well worth the effort.
Allow about 2 hours for a return journey.
We came across the Weeping Wall on our drive along the Icefield's Parkway.
Small streams of water were tumbling and spraying down the vertical walls of Cirrus Mountain from snowfields above. The streams are very small, even so, it is still an impressive site to see water pouring over cliffs this tall.
I wonder if they ever have a lot more water running over the sides, I have only seen photo's like what I have taken.
You can't miss them, as once again, they are close to the road.
A stop on the Icefield's Parkway to view Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier is a must.
We turned into the driveway of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, and from here, we had wonderful views of the Glacier.
It is one of the few places where there is accommodation available enroute to Jasper.
We were able to buy some lunch here, and sat at the picnic table enjoying the most wonderful views.
A cheeky "Clark's Nutcracker" bird, came to share our meal!
At Lake Louise, our party of 2 adults and 3 teenagers hiked up to Lake Agnes and the Plain of the Six Glaciers to the teahouse at the Six Glaciers. Great homemade soup with scones and tea at the teahouse. What a view! A must do for any hikers in your group.
Also hiked near Moraine Lake to the Larch Valley viewpoint, just short of Sentinel Pass (didn't leave enough time or energy for Sentinel Pass but would do that next time.) Larch Valley is another great hike. Both hikes doable in 3 hours with a moderate elevation gain.
We also tried zip-lining our Kicking Horse River in Yoho National Park, about an hour away from town of Banff. Expensive for only one true zip-line station across the river with two intro stations. Wouldn't do that again.
Still-water kayaking on the Bow River was really nice and peaceful. Didn't see enough wildlife but it was nice. The guide, Astrid, was great too. Booked through the Banff Adventures outfit on Bear St.
Bow Falls are located a bit farther down from the Banff Springs Hotel. They are not as impressive as the other falls we saw in Jasper National Park but still worth a visit. According to Wikipedia they were featured in the Marilyn Monroe movie River of No Return.
This seems to be where the beautiful aquamarine color of the water starts to be seen. We noticed it in the Bow River and at the falls. The hike to Bow Falls goes up the Bow River and winds back into Banff.