Horseriding/Hiking, Banff National Park
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.
At Johnston Canyon, you can walk along a catwalk which clings to the canyon walls and crosses over the rushing water. You can view the lower falls after a 1.1km hike or continue 2.7kms to the upper falls.
From here you can continue another 3.1kms along a more rugged trail that will lead you to seven blue green, cold water springs known as the Inkpots.
Set beneath the glacier-capped summits of Mount Quadra and Mount Bident, Consolation lake is one of the shortest of the popular hikes in the Moraine Lake area.
The trail rises through a pleasant forest of fir and spruce, levelling out along an open meadow. If you want to reach the water's edge, you'll need to pick your way through a field of large boulders. But I like to find a big one to lay on and rest a bit...soaking up the sun and the spectacular views! I sometimes even remember to bring my sketch book!
Back to the north stands Mount Temple (11,626'), the second highest peak in Banff Park.
If you're feeling more adventurous you may want to visit the Upper Consolation Lake. This entails fording Babel Creek below the outlet of the lower lake, then travelling along and beyond its eastern shore.
Maximum elevation: 6,400 ft.
Topographical map: Lake Louise, 82 N/8 East
3.7 total miles
Out & Back
Equipment: Hiking shoes with good socks.
Jacket and an extra sweater or sweatshirt.
Regular hiking attire.
Sunscreen and hat.
Lunch and water.
These unusual rock formations are a nice change of scenery, in case you could ever tire of the stunning mountain vistas.
It is an easy hike along the Bow River, although it will take about 3hrs to complete.
Peyto Lake is one of the finer...and easiest hikes available in Banff Park. And the total round-trip should not exceed one-and-a-half hours.
Dropping through a pleasant sub-alpine forest, the trail emerges at a small gravelly beach on the lake's peaceful east shore.
Above the lakehead to the south lies Peyto Glacier -- the color of the lake a result of the silt carried in the glacier's outwash.
Directly across the lake stand two major peaks -- Mistaya Mountain (10,100') on the left and Mount Patterson (10,490') on the right.
The lake and glacier were named for wilderness guide and outfitter Bill Peyto, a colorful mountain man who explored the area in 1895.
Equipment: Hiking boots, or sturdy shoes with thick, cushioned socks.
Jacket and extra light sweater or sweatshirt if it gets cold.
Casual clothing appropriate for hiking.
Snacks and water.
This is a full day hike, plan on 6hrs for the return trip and pack a lunch to enjoy along the way. It is 15kms return with an elevation gain of 640m. I encountered a very cute pika on one of my rest stops.
Hiking in the mountain parks begins in May on a few of the lower valley trails.
By mid-June a good percentage of the trails are passable, and on July 1st, all but the highest are usually open.
As would be expected, elevation is the crucial factor in judging the accessibility of any trail. A very rough rule-of-thumb would be:
At elevations below 5,000 feet, trails open in May; at 5,000 to 7,000 feet, trails open in June; and above 7,000 feet, trails are clear in late June or early July.
Heavy or light snowfalls of the just previous winter can fluctuate such random rules by 2 to 3 weeks, however, and the best bet is to check with a warden when in doubt.
This full-day expedition is a beautiful 7 hour ride that will take you to Paradise Valley, to the Giant Steps, Lake Annette, and the Horseshoe Glacier (how appropriate!).
You get to enjoy your lunch beside the elegant Giant Steps waterfall.
It's a great ride for beginners as the climb to the valley is quite gradual.
The cost is/was $155.00 per person. I think Canadian dollars (??).
Contact the Brewster Lake Louise Stables for more information. They have a few other options on trail rides...varying in duration of ride, locations, and price.
Originating at the Paradise Creek pull-off on the Moraine Lake road, the trail travels for three miles through a forest of Douglas fir and spruce.
Mount Temple looms to the left for most of the approach and the trail follows along Paradise Creek . At the termination of the valley-bottom approach, the trail crosses a bridge to the south side of the creek and climbs to the shore of Lake Annette.
Allow 2 hours to Lake Annette.
Elevation gain: 800 feet
Maximum elevation: 6,500 ft. at Lake Annette
Topographical maps: Lake Louise, 82 N/8 East
Of the major trails in the mountain parks, Sentinel Pass is the highest -- rising to a spectacular 8,566 feet above sea level.
Approached through the delicate sub-alpine meadows of Larch Valley, the pass stands austerely amid stark pinnacles of rock. A lofty outpost for viewing the Ten Peaks, the gap can be used as an optional route to the upper reaches of Paradise Valley.
Beyond Larch Valley stand the icy summits of the Wenkchemna Peaks, or the Ten Peaks as they are popularly known.
Ahead, between the vertical walls of Pinnacle Mountain on the left and Mount Temple on the right, is the jagged opening of Sentinel Pass.
Moraine Lake to Larch Valley: 1.5 miles
Moraine Lake to Sentinel Pass: 3.6 miles
Moraine Lake to Paradise Creek via Sentinel: 10.4 miles
Allow a minimum of 3-4 hours hiking time one way at a good clip.
Topographical map: Lake Louise, 82 N/8 East
Equipment: Hiking boots.
Appropriate hiking attire for the weather conditions.
Extra sweater and jacket.
Backback to carry extra clothes, food for lunch and snack breaks, and water.
First aid kit.
Sunscreen and sunglasses.