Hiking/Trails, Banff National Park

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Banff National Park

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  • Mt. Victoria
    Mt. Victoria
    by chewy3326
  • Victoria Glacier
    Victoria Glacier
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  • Rock Isle Lake
    Rock Isle Lake
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    Sunshine Meadows Loop

    by chewy3326 Written Nov 26, 2011
    Rock Isle Lake
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    One of the most easily accessible alpine meadows in the Rockies is the Sunshine Meadows area, just west of Banff. A ski area in the summer, the Sunshine Meadows complex stays open in the summer to allow hikers access to the high country around the Continental Divide. For a fairly hefty fee, you'll be able to take a bus to a point only about a kilometer away from the Divide. From the bus stop, a trail leads to Rock Isle Lake, on the other side of the Divide in Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park in British Columbia. Another loop trail branches off from this loop, leading to Grizzly and Larix Lakes, as well as the Simpson Viewpoint, which offers a view deep into Kootenay National Park. During my hike, there were a decent amount of wildflowers along the trail, but views of the Monarch and other nearby peaks were obscured due to poor weather. After the loop to the two lakes, the trail returns to the original upper loop, where you can take a short spur to Standish Viewpoint, a highlight of this trail: there are great views of the lakes that you've just visited, as well as the meadows and a huge array of peaks. After the viewpoint, the trail finishes the loop by continuing through alpine meadows and eventually descending back to the bus stop. The entire trail is a roughly 10 km loop, with a moderate amount of elevation gain; nothing is too steep though. An enjoyable hike, but not the highlight of my Rockies trip.

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    Plain of Six Glaciers

    by chewy3326 Written Nov 20, 2011
    Avalanche on Mt. Victoria
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    The Plain of Six Glaciers is an incredible trail that leads from Lake Louise to the base of Mt. Victoria with incredible views of glaciers, meadows, and mountain peaks. The 13-km round trip is a hot and dry trail, so bring plenty of water; but if you don't you'll be able to buy a beverage at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, one of the odd Canadian ideas of having concessionaires selling food 5 km from a trailhead.

    The trail starts from Lake Louise and follows the lake to its opposite end, then follows the valley of the river flowing from the Victoria Glacier. The trail soon ascends the slopes at the north side of the river and passes through forest and meadow and gets progressively rockier; eventually, the trail pops out onto a moraine. The teahouse is then reached in a flat, meadowy area with a great view of Victoria. From the teahouse, the trail leads on, climbing onto a narrow moraine with thrilling views of the Victoria Glacier and Mts. Victoria and Lefroy until the trail dead ends at a steep viewing point of the glacier descending from Abbott Pass, where the precariously perched Abbott Pass Hut is visible.

    Not recommended for those with a fear of heights; but it is certainly a worthwhile and spectacular hike!

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    The Hoodoos

    by Camping_Girl Written Nov 17, 2008

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    The hoodoos are an interesting geologic formation created by thousands of years of erosion. The wind over the years has worn away the softer rock layers, leaving behind uniquely shaped spires of harder rock. Hoodoos can have different coloured layers in them, depending on what rock is exposed by the erosional effects of the wind.

    There is a hiking trail in Banff along Tunnel Mountain Road where you can easily view the hoodoos in the valley. The trail is moderate and roughly a one mile return trip.

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    Bankhead

    by Camping_Girl Written Oct 21, 2008

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    Old house foundations
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    Bankhead used to be a coal mine & mining town, but it is now a ghost town. The mine closed in the early 1930's. Upper Bankhead is the site of the original mine and the townsite. Most of the houses were moved into Banff and those that weren't were torn down. All that remains of the town is a few foundations. If you follow the old fire burn trail a short distance from the picnic area you can see a huge tailings pile, from the original mine.

    Lower Bankhead is the site of the second mine site. What remains here is a few foundations and some mining artifacts. The site is accessed by a hiking trail that makes a loop through the area. This area is not wheelchair accessible.

    Upper Bankhead site is marked by a road sign. Lower Bankhead is a short distance before you get to Upper Bankhead, look for an unmarked paved parking lot on the right (east) side of the road.

    There is no admission to tour either area.

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    Sundance Canyon

    by Hermanater Written Sep 17, 2007

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    Sundance Canyon
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    The trail starts at the Cave and Basin National Monument. The trail is a paved roadway for the first 4 km. You will share the road with cyclists, rollerbladers, horses and the occasional parks vehicle. You will pass swamps and marshes along the way. At the 4 km mark there are picnic tables, washroom and a bike lock up. The trail to Sundance Canyon starts at this point. There is a "real" trail to the left. It goes over a bride and up the side of the canyon. This is very scenic. The trail here forms a 2 km loop. There is one very nice scenic stop at the peak.

    This is a nice trail for families. The complete trail is about 10 km and 165 meter elevation gain.

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    Devil's Thumb

    by Hermanater Written Aug 31, 2007

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    Plain of six glaciers from above.
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    This is a continuation of my tip on Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail.

    From here on you will encounter fewer people since most have the teahouse as their final destination.

    Once you arrive at the teahouse and rest, you can continue on to Devil’s Thumb or the Big Beehive.

    Follow the trail around the north side of the lake. You will end up at a step switchback that takes you to the saddle between Devil’s Thumb (Elev 2458 m) and the Big Beehive (Elev. 2270 M). This trail and switchback is approximately 1.1 km.

    The unmarked trail to the right goes up around the back side of the Devil’s Thumb. You have to climb a couple 4 foot cliffs. Once on top, the trail is easy to find. You hug the mountain going around on the left side (mountain on the right).

    After a whiule you encounter a steep valley which you make your way up. Find the easiest path. Hands might be required. At the top of the saddle you pick your own way through the rocks to the top.

    The view is AMAZING. Well worth the effort.

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    Sentinel Pass

    by Hermanater Written Aug 30, 2007

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    View of Paradise Valley
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    The trail to Sentinel Pass starts off as the trail through Larch Valley. (see my Larch Valley tip).
    The total trail is 11.6 km and 724 meter elevation gain. The top of the pass offers a top view of Larch valley and a view of Paradise Valley on the other side.

    This was a tough hike for anyone that has not hiked much. From the top of Larch valey, you go around a lake then it is just switchbacks to the top. There are rock formations that standout like sentries....hence the name Sentinel Pass.

    Amazing hike.

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    Larch Valley

    by Hermanater Written Aug 30, 2007

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    Larch Valley
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    This is a hike that starts at Moraine Lake and is considered among one of the most scenic trails in Banff National Park. The valley is accessed through a series of switchbacks that lead 3km to the upper valley and the Minnestimma Lakes. Minnestimma is an Indian word for "sleeping Water". There is a trail leading to Eifffel Lake from here. The trees in the fall turn a bright golden color. To the left is the valley of ten peaks containing Eiffel Lake and Wenkchemna Pass. At the end of the trail you are 520 meters above Moraine Lake.

    The valley is frequented by bears so bear safety should be considered.

    Return is approx. 11 km and 520 m elevation gain.

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    Lake Minnewanka

    by Hermanater Written May 25, 2007

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    There's nothing mini about Lake Minnewanka. It's a magnificent 22-km long, fiord-like lake. Maxiwanka is more like it. And clinging to the lake's north shore is a trail providing maximal scenery for minimal effort. views up and down the lake are excellent. Also visible are the shriekingly steep cliffs of Mt. Inglismaldie, above the south shore.

    Minnewanka is a Stoney Indian name meaning "Water of the Spirits." According to legend, the lake is haunted by fish-people. Aboriginal artifacts discovered here suggest human habitation 11,000 years ago. The original, much smaller body of water was dammed to create the reservoir we see today. It's the only hydroelectric power source in a Canadian national park. Despite its v ast surface area, the lake is only 97m deep.

    This was taken from the Calgary Outdoor Club Website (http://www.calgaryoutdoorclub.com/)

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    Stewart Canyon

    by Hermanater Written May 25, 2007

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    Stewert Canyon...love the color of the water
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    This trail goes along Lake Minnewanka. After crossing the bridge the trail goes left to a junction. The right trail follows the Lake shoreline. Go left here. On your left as you walk along the top of the canyon is the river. The most amazing thing about this river is the color and clarity. Amazing blue color. The trail slowly fades away. If you keep going, you eventually end up at the creek.. A good place to relax and get wet.

    I would guess the whole length would be about 5 - 6 km return.

    Easy trail for kids.

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    Fenland trail

    by Redlats Updated Aug 23, 2006

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    Hiking the Fenland trail

    This 2 km trail is a flat loop through a wetland (or fen). It is a nice trail to try on a hot day as you are walking on a spongy floor through a forest of spruce trees listening to the sounds of the creek which follows most of the trail. Remember horsetails you might have played with as a kid? On this trail you will find enough to make as long a tail as you wish.

    You can hear birds throughout the walk, and according to the plaques, there might be kingfishers nearby. We appreciated the quiet walk - and you could easily walk from Banff townsite to the trailhead.

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    Big Beehive (From the Lake Agnes Teahouse)

    by Hermanater Written Aug 9, 2006

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    The Big Beehive
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    This is a continuation of my tip on Lake Agnes Teahouse Trail.

    From here on you will encounter fewer people since most have the teahouse as their final destination.

    Once you arrive at the teahouse and rest, you can continue on to Devil’s Thumb or the Big Beehive.

    Follow the trail around the north side of the lake. You will end up at a step switchback that takes you to the saddle between Devil’s Thumb (Elev 2458 m) and the Big Beehive (Elev. 2270 M). This trail and switchback is approximately 1.1 km.

    The unmarked trail to the right goes up around the back side of the Devil’s Thumb. The trail is 0.7 km long and involves some sections of scree. The view is supposed to be magnificent.

    To the left is the Big Beehive. There is no real trail to the hut at the top but after 0.6 km you will find it.

    From the Big Beehive/Devil’s Thumb junction, head down the south side of the saddle (the side away from Lake Agnes). The trail goes down some switchbacks and is narrow and tougher to navigate. This part of the trail is not as well maintained as the first part going to the teahouse. At the 0.9 km mark you will encounter the Highland / Mirror Lake junction. The right trail leads to the Plain of Six Glaciers Trail. Going left for about 1 km, you end up at Mirror Lake.

    From here it is about 3.1 km back to the Chateau.

    Unfortunately there was a lot of smoke in the air when the attached photos were taken.

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    Lake Agnes Teahouse

    by Hermanater Updated Aug 9, 2006

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    Teahouse at Lake Agnes from the Big Beehive
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    Lake Agnes Teahouse was built in 1901 by the Canadian Pacific Railway. It was rebuilt in 1981 and serves soup, sandwiches, drinks and cake to hiker. This tearoom has the distinction of being the highest situated tearoom in Canada. The trail to the teahouse is considered a moderate trail. It consists of a steady climb all the way to the top.

    There are various routes to take to complete this trail. I will try to describe the trail I took.
    The trail to Lake Agnes is very popular and you will be with many people. Do not let this discourage you. The sights on this trail are worth it.

    The trail head (Elev. 1731 m) is located 0.5 km from the Chateau along the shore side trail. The trail is broad and well maintained. The trail follows a steady incline for 2.6 km to Mirror Lake (Elev. 2027 m). Just before Mirror Lake you will come across a wooden barrier/gate. At this junction, go to your left about 100 meters to Mirror Lake. From here on you may encounter horses and what they leave behind….

    Behind Mirror Lake is the Big Beehive. From here you can go left and find a junction to the highline trail and the Lake Agnes Teahouse, or you can go right and head to the Little Beehive, Mount St. Piran or the Teahouse.

    Going to the right for about 0.4 km you will find a junction. The right will take you to the Little Beehive (Elev. 2210 m and Mount St. Piran (Elev. 2650 m). To the left you will see a waterfall and the Teahouse. Go to the left for about 0.4 km to the stairs at the waterfall which will lead you to the teahouse (Elev. 2134 m).

    404 meter rise in 3.9 KM

    There are many side trips from here. Little Beehive, Mount St Piran, Big Beehive, Devil's Thumb.
    I will describe these in other tips, (As I hike them)

    The pictures were taken when there was a lot of smoke from a forest fire in the air. The pictures do not do the view justice :-(

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    Hiking to Lake Agnes

    by chewy3326 Written Nov 24, 2005

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    Lake Agnes

    Lake Agnes is one of the best day hikes around Lake Louise. Though it may be a little steep (anyone in relatively OK physical condition can do it), the rewards are ample, from views of LAke Louise, to the Beehives and of course, beautiful Lake Agnes. I believe (I'm not too sure, I did this hike four years ago) that it's 7 km round trip, though it may be 3.5. From Lake Louise, the trail climbs upward immediately. One thing everyone will notice is the large prescence of horse dung, littered along the entire trail. While on the way up, you'll get views of Lake Louise's turquoise waters and the giant massives of Little Beehive and Big Beehive. Towards the end of the trail, near Lake Agnes, you'll reach a waterfall, and then finally the teahouse at the lake. The lake itself is very beautiful, tucked beneath towering glaciated peaks. If I were to do this hike again, I would climb up the Beehives, for better views; it's what I should've done at first.

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    Hike to the top of Little Beehive

    by BLewJay Written Nov 24, 2004

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    Whether you hike, cross-country ski or snowshoe, hundreds of kilometers (or miles) of trails (from easy to challenging) lead into the spectacular mountain scenery called Banff National Park.

    One of these hikes leads you up to the top of Little Beehive Mountain (the trailhead starts at Chateau Lake Louise).

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