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Hiking in Banff & Lake Louise

Sitting on a rock perched high up on the alpine pass, you can’t help but feel proud of yourself. There were moments during the long, gruelling climb where you wondered whether the effort was really worth it. But now, as you gaze at the iridescent turquoise lake far below and the imposingly rugged peaks all around you, you feel a profound sense of wonder. And for a few special moments, your everyday stresses seem so far away. It was most definitely worth it.  

The hiking in Banff and Lake Louise is among the most scenic and inspiring in the world. Ranging from walks and easy hikes to multi-day backcountry epics, hiking is an accessible way to immerse yourself in the spectacular landscape of Banff National Park. Wander along the shore of glittering blue-green lakes, trek up a mountain pass, hike across a frozen lake and be amazed by the glowing larches in the fall. With a little effort and a dose of adventurous spirit, hiking in Banff and Lake Louise is your chance to step outside of your norm and into a truly magical world.    

  • Hike high into the alpine in the scenic Kananaskis for 360 degree views of iconic peaks
    Anthony Redpath, Travel Alberta
  • Hiking Sentinel Pass Banff National Park Jake Dyson
  • Hikers pause along the Beehive Trail above Lake Louise to take a photograph.
    Paul Zizka

There are over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) of walking and hiking trails in Banff National Park. The trails in the vicinity of the town of Banff include short walks with sweeping vistas over the valley and challenging hikes up the peaks that are the town’s backdrop. 

Lake Louise is known as the hiking capital of Canada: it offers gentle walks around Lake Louise, the unique “Tea House” hikes, and epic adventures into the wild backcountry. During the fall, the larch trees light up in glowing shades of yellow and gold; Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass are two popular spots to experience the colour.

Its protected mountains, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers are intersected by over 1,000 miles of maintained trails, making it one of the world’s premier places to take a hike – Leslie Woit of The Telegraph

The Icefields Parkway features a range of short walks that are a great scenic stop off during a drive, as well as more challenging alpine routes. 

For a truly unique experience you could take a helicopter tour to begin your hiking high in the alpine or spend a few days off the grid at a backcountry lodge

During the winter months there are still many opportunities for hiking. It’s worth the effort to put on some extra layers and venture outside into the crisp mountain air and sparkling snow - and there’s no doubt it will make hot chocolate by the fire afterwards even more enjoyable. 

You’ll want to use ice cleats (an accessory that fits over your shoes or boots to give you traction in ice and snow) and/or snowshoes when walking and hiking in Banff and Lake Louise during the winter. What you choose will depend on the trail conditions and amount of fresh snow. Cleats and snowshoes can be rented or purchased from a number of stores and outfitters in Banff and Lake Louise. 

The Parks Canada website has all the details on winter hiking trails and safety. Take a look at our snowshoeing page too. 

  • Tea House Hikes

    Perched by the lake and amongst the peaks and glaciers surrounding Lake Louise are two historic Tea Houses perfectly positioned for your well-earned rest. 

    It’s worth the huffing and puffing to hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House or Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. With breathtaking views and delicious food and refreshments, hiking to the Tea Houses is a memorably authentic experience in Banff & Lake Louise.    

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  • Heli Hiking & Tours

    Fly amongst the mountain peaks and glaciers then start your hike high in the alpine. 

    Imagine hopping onto a helicopter and soaring high above Banff National Park, gazing down on glistening lakes, rugged peaks, and imposing glaciers, before touching down and starting your hike in the alpine wonderland. 

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  • Backcountry Lodges

    The best of both worlds: luxurious lodgings in the midst of the wilderness. 

    A cozy wooden cabin, a fire to ward off the early morning alpine chill, a hearty breakfast, and a whole day ahead exploring the pristine wilderness. A couple of days off the grid at a backcountry lodge is a rejuvenating experience.

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  • Snowshoeing

    Glide across the snow with warm boots on and snowshoes strapped securely on your feet.

    Access gentle and narrow trails around a frozen lake or discover a wide open field that provides majestic mountain views, there is opportunity for snowshoeing everywhere.

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