Hiking /Trails, Banff National Park
The hiking trail that leads to the paint pots is located just off the #93 highway between Castle Mountain junction and Radium, BC, in Kootenay National Park. There is a rest area at the trail head, and a sign on the highway tells you it's the way to the paint pots.
The Paint Pots are a series of shallow ponds in an area of high mineral concentration. This high mineral concentration causes the ground here to be brightly coloured - yellow, ochre and green. The aboriginals used the coloured mud that is found here as a dye for clothing and for war-paint. (Hence the name paint pots!)
The hike is a fairly easy one. It's level terrain most of the way, and the distance is about a mile or so (one way). There are some muddy areas, so you may not want to be wearing your best white shoes! The last part of the hike is a short, rather steep climb and ends at the paint pots.
After you cross the bridge and you are walking along the flats, look to your right for some old mining equipment that was left behind from days gone-by.
This is one of the most popular trail in the area. You will share the trail with horse parties so it could get quite crowded sometimes. Start from the trailhead at lakeshore trail near the chateau. Then you make a steep ascent of 387m over 3.4km until you reach Lake Agnes. Don't forget to have a cup of tea and refreshments at the tea house!
Everyone travels along the Icefields Parkway has seen the Athabasca Glacier. Although a very impressive sight, it is not the longest glacier. The Saskatchewan Glacier, south east to the Athabasca Glacier, is 9 km in length (while Athabasca Glacier is only 5.3km long) and the longest at Columbia Icefield. It is not directly visible on the Icefield Parkway. However you can gain a panoramic view of the glacier and its surrounding area by doing a short hike up the Parker Ridge. The trailhead is 9 km south of the Icefield Center. It is 2.7 km one way with 250m elevation gain.
Whistling Pass was named for the whistling of the hoary marmots that live nearby. It is 15.9km from the Healy Pass trailhead Sunshine Village ski area . You would probably need to spend a night camping at Egypt Lake campground nearby. The glacier capped mountain to the north is Mt. Ball (3311m).
Spend two nights at the backcountry campground at Egypt Lake. You can explore the wonders of the area by day-hiking on the second day. It gives you access to places like the Mummy Lake, Pharoah Lake, and Whistling Pass.
Everyone goes to visit Lake Louise. You can jostle for position to get that perfect photo down at lake level with all the other tourists or you can set off for a hike up to Mirror Lake and the Tea House beyond.
Here, you will not only have some breathing space, but also some great views back down onto Lake Louise.
Follow the shoreline trail up to the Lake Agnes Tea House. You will pass Mirror Lake on your way. The entire hike will take 2.5 hrs with an elevation gain of 385m.
I found the national parks around Banff are huge in terms of magnitude. Would advise you to hike with your friends.
While i felt safe throughout, there are moments when your adventurous spirit wants more and more and we tend to go overboard.
Here's Zal, Zoe and me taking a 5-ver before continuing on to more exploits :)
(1) The easiest is the one-kilometre amble along the lakeshore - hardly a walk at all - followed by the three-kilometre stroll to Consolation Lakes, an hour's trip that may be busy but can provide some respite from the frenzy at Moraine Lake itself. This almost level walk ends with lovely views of a small mountain-circled lake.
(2) The most popular walk (start as early as possible) is the Larch Valley-Sentinel Pass Trail, which sets off from the lake's north shore 100m beyond the lodge. A stiffish hairpin climb through forest on a broad track, with breathtaking views of the lake through the trees, brings you to a trail junction after 2.4km and some 300m of ascent.
(3) The third option, the less walked Eiffel Lake-Wenkchemna Pass Trail, follows the climb from the lake as for the Larch Valley path before branching off left at the 2.4-kilometre junction. It's equally sound, virtually level, and if anything has the better scenery in the stark, glaciated grandeur to be found at the head of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
All the Lake Louise trails are busy in summer, but they're good for a short taste of the scenery. The two most popular end at tea houses - mountain chalets selling welcome, but rather pricey, snacks. The Lake Agnes Trail (3.4km), said to be the most-walked path in the Rockies, strikes off from the right (north) shore of the lake immediately past the hotel. It's a gradual, 400-metre climb, relieved by ever more magnificent views, and a tea house beautifully situated beside mountain-cradled Lake Agnes (2135m); allow one to two hours. Beyond the tea house you can continue on the right side of the lake and curve left around its head to climb to an easily reached pass. Here a 200-metre stroll to the left brings you to Big Beehive (2255m), an incredible eyrie, 1km from the tea house. Almost as rewarding is the trail, also 1km from the tea house, to Little Beehive, a mite lower, but still privy to full-blown panoramas over the broad sweep of the Bow Valley.
Five major trails branch off the Bow Valley Pkwy. The best short walk is the Johnston Canyon Trail (2.7km each way), an incredibly engineered path to a series of spray-veiled waterfalls. From the upper falls you can continue on to the seven cold-water springs of the Ink Pots, to make a total distance of 5.8km (215m ascent). Another short possibility is the Castle Crags Trail (3.7km each way; 520m ascent) from the signed turn-off 5km west of Castle Junction. Short but steep, and above treeline, this walk offers superlative views across the Bow Valley and the mountains beyond. Allow ninety minutes one way to take account of the stiff climb.
The best day hike is to Rockbound Lake (8.4km each way), a steepish climb to 2210m with wild lakeland scenery at the end; allow at least two and a half hours one way, due to the 760m ascent. The other trails - Baker Creek (20.3km) and Pulsatilla Pass (17.1km) - serve to link backpackers with the thick network of paths in the Slate Range northeast of Lake Louise.
The two outstanding trails along Hwy-1 are the trek to Bourgeau Lake (7.5km one way), which starts from a parking area 10km west of Banff - allow two and a half to three hours for the 725-metre ascent - and the long day hike to Shadow Lake (14.3km each way), where the lakeside campground (at 1840m) in one of the Rockies' more impressive sub-alpine basins gives access to assorted onward trails. The main trail starts from the Redearth Creek parking area 20km west of Banff (440m ascent; allow 4hr).
Plain of Six Glaciers trail does not stop at the tea house (where most tourists would stop). You can go a bit further to reach its end, which is right in front of the Upper Victoria Glacier.