5 Essential Day Hikes In Banff National Park

Summer has officially arrived and again this year hordes of hikers will lace up the boots and hit the trails in Banff National Park. Most trekkers will stick to the “classics” in the neighbourhood of Lake Louise and Banff, making it sometimes difficult to find a true wilderness experience. For a healthy dose of solitude without compromising scenery, try these hikes this summer.

As always, please check on local trail conditions before heading out.

Caldron Lake

Degree of difficulty: 4/5
Distance: 16 km return
Caldron Lake by Paul Zizka.

Caldron Lake by Paul Zizka.

 

The Caldron Lake trail is perhaps the best day-hike in all of Banff National Park. This hike has so much going for it: fantastic views of Peyto Lake and the Wapta Icefield, the odd mountain goat, and an incredibly beautiful lake nestled high up in the alpine. If energy allows, continue on to the remote Delta Glacier (be properly prepared, of course). You’’ll be blown away by the variety this trip has to offer. UPDATE:  The bridge across the canyon en route has washed out. See comment below for additional instructions (or simply ford the creek earlier on to avoid deeper water).

Peyto Lakeshore

Degree of difficulty: 2/5
Distance: 4 km return

Peyto Lake by Paul Zizka.

Peyto Lake by Paul Zizka.

 

Two separate short walks allow one to experience a different side of world-famous Peyto Lake and provide a new appreciation of this classic landmark. Either hike down the switchbacks from the popular lookout or wander down the lower trail that starts a few kilometres to the north on the Icefields Parkway. Both lead to two different, quiet sections of the Peyto lakeshore.

Iceberg Lake

Degree of difficulty: 4/5
Distance: 12 km return

Iceberg Lake by Paul Zizka.

Iceberg Lake by Paul Zizka.

 

A gem of a lake that incredibly few know about, the hike to Iceberg Lake has many highlights: a walk along the magical shores of Bow Lake, a bird’’s eye view of Bow Glacier Falls, an exciting walk along the crests of two moraines, and a fabulous green lake tucked in at the very edge of the Wapta Icefield, the true source of the Bow River.

Cory Pass

Degree of difficulty: 3/5
Distance: 13 km total

Cory Pass by Paul Zizka.

Cory Pass by Paul Zizka.

 

Perhaps Cory Pass is not as obscure as other trails listed here, but it is still highly underrated in the Banff area. The trail is relentlessly steep, but provides great views of Mount Assiniboine and unmatched vistas of the fang-shaped Mount Louis. Wait until snow has melted later in the season so that you can complete a fine loop via the Edith Pass trail.

Rockbound Lake

Degree of difficulty: 2/5
Distance: 17km return

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The hike to Rockbound Lake is all about the destination, a surreal lake set in enchanting surroundings. Sit by a larch on the smooth rock slabs that lead down to the aquamarine waters and marvel at the steep backside of Castle Mountain.

Paul Zizka

Paul Zizka is a professional mountain landscape and adventure photographer based in Banff, Alberta. Specializing in photographing in difficult conditions and hard-to-reach places, Paul has a passion for shooting alpine sports and backcountry experiences, capturing the spirit of adventurers and finding unusual angles of common mountain subjects.

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Comments

  1. This article needed to be written! Very happy you included Rockbound Lake. Thanks Highline!

  2. Attempted hike to Cauldron Lake on the recommendation of this website. Bridge was washed out. Later found out it had been gone for at least three years. Maybe if you are going to write about the “best hike in Banff National Park” you should do some research first?

    • Hi Sally – We apologize that this happened. We can assure you our writer is very experienced. We do our best to ensure information is updated and accurate but the mountains are wild and conditions change frequently. We encourage our readers to also research and prepare when embarking on any adventures in the Rockies. There is an alternate route up to Caldron Lake, and unfortunately the directions we linked to did not include this. As an alternative, hikers can ford the braided creek coming out of the canyon to the opposite side of the valley and simply gain the obvious moraine on the right hand side in order to access the trail. We do hope you give it another shot sometime – it’s a beautiful area!