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.
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.
The Icefields Parkway (Highway 93) features a range of short walks that are a great scenic stop off during a drive, as well as more challenging alpine routes.
There are still many opportunities for hiking during the winter months. 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. See our snowshoeing page for more information.
Visit the Parks Canada website to learn more about winter hiking safety and current conditions.
Making it easier when you visit Banff National Park
All visitors to Banff National Park must purchase (or already hold) a current Parks Canada Discovery Pass. Purchase your Parks Canada Discovery Pass in advance to make your entry into the park easier and faster. You can learn more and purchase your pass online in our Guide To The Parks Canada Pass.