Pause. Take a deep breath. You’ve arrived in the mountains.
The air is fresh, the weather is beautiful, and the great outdoors beckons you to join it. Explore Banff National Park’s natural wonders by foot on these easy walks and hikes.
For a joyful experience, comfortable shoes with a sturdy grip, like hiking boots, are ideal. Remember to pack layers and rain gear and prepare for any weather. Don't forget to pack the important life essentials of water and food.
Bear Street, Downtown Banff
Lucky for you, you don’t have to stray far for mountain views. Bear Street offers more than just views, it invites you to experience Canadian mountain culture with shops, galleries and restaurants lining the sidewalks.
Stop by and grab a coffee from Wild Flour or JK Bakery with a fresh-from-the-oven treat. On your way home re-fuel and pick up a takeaway from The Bison, Bear St. Tavern, Nourish Bistro, or 3 Bears Brewery and Restaurant.
Need another outfit for your next walk? Add some sustainable, yet fashionable gear from Lole to your wardrobe.
Bow River Trail
Located right off the heart of downtown, this trail system will take you south towards Bow Falls and the Fairmont Banff Springs where you can reward your efforts with an afternoon tea or a hand-crafted meal. On the way, make sure you walk across the pedestrian bridge over the Bow River for a great photo opportunity with Rundle and Cascade Mountains. If you're not up for the walk back into town, you can catch Roam bus #2 back to town.
Similar to the Bow River Trail, the Fenland Trail can also begin in the town at the canoe docks or you can drive and park at the Fenlands Recreation Centre as you head north towards Vermilion Lakes. Along the rivers and lakes, you’ll see canoers in the summer or skaters in the winter and wildlife most of the year.
Cave & Basin National Historic Site & the Marsh Loop
If you’re into history, this is the walk for you! From downtown, follow signs across the river for the Cave & Basin. You’ll pass by Banff Park Museum where you’ll see Rocky Mountain wildlife and Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum where you can learn about Banff National Park’s relationship with the First Nations in the area.
From there, you’ll arrive at the Cave & Basin where you’ll learn about the birth of the Canadian National Park systems. Then, take a walk around the Marsh Loop to fully disconnect and tune in to nature.
On your way back wander through the Cascade of Time Gardens which is located at the end of Banff Avenue. Parks Canada staff maintain these stunning gardens that are often visited by resident deer.
This is a great option for families to step away from the shore and discover more around Lake Minnewanka. After a short bus ride or drive from downtown, walk the shoreline and then wander through the forest towards Stewart Canyon. You will begin to hear the raging waters of the Cascade River as you approach the canyon and bridge. Once you have reached the bridge, admire the rushing water below as it runs towards Lake Minnewanka. You can continue along a trail to the left after the bridge. Be aware of hiking restrictions from July - September if you continue straight, and along Lake Minnewanka.
Moderate but scenic Tunnel Mountain
If you prefer to give your legs a little more of a stretch, depart from downtown Banff and complete the entire Tunnel Mountain trail, which takes about 2 hours round trip.
While you're in the area of the Banff Centre, head down to Surprise Corner or access it directly from downtown by following Buffalo St up towards Tunnel Mountain Dr. This lookout offers one of the most iconic views of the Fairmont Banff Springs.
Guided Walking Tours
If you want to see Banff in a different light, we recommend downloading a map online to complete one of five self-guided Banff Historic Walks.
Take the opportunity to check out a guided hike with one of the local guides in Banff or Lake Louise. Although not always an easy option, it's a great environment to push your limits.
Banff is wonderfully accessible on foot, but you can also complement your cardio with Roam bus services around town or access other walkable areas by checking out explorethepark.ca.