HikingWatch the sunset on a riverside stroll or feel the breath of glaciers in the alpine. Take your pick of over 1,600 kilometres (1,000 miles) of maintained trails. Many of the park’s most famous hikes are easily accessible from the Town of Banff and the village of Lake Louise.
Prime hiking season runs July through mid-September. Until late June, many passes are still snow-bound and may be subject to avalanche hazard. Trails tend to be muddier at this time and the best hiking is at lower elevations or on drier, south facing slopes around the Town of Banff. By the middle of July, most alpine passes are snow-free.
Many summer hiking trails are exposed to avalanche hazard throughout the winter and into the late spring. For avalanche safety reasons hiking is not recommended on snow covered trails at and above treeline from mid October to mid June.
Where to go
Safety is your responsibility. There are always hazards involved with outdoor recreational activities. Be prepared. Even short trips from the Town of Banff can have serious consequences. Minimize your risk by planning ahead.
- Study trail descriptions and maps before starting. Select a trail which best suits your group’s abilities.
- Check the weather forecast, current trail conditions and warnings or closures online or visit a Parks Canada Visitor Centre.
- Be prepared for emergencies and changes in weather. Mountain weather changes quickly and it can snow any month of the year.
- Bring extra food, water (1 L minimum) and clothing. Surface water may be contaminated and unsafe for drinking.
- Tell somebody where you are going, when you will be back, and who to call if you do not return.
- Carry a first aid kit and bear spray (bells are ineffective).
- Ticks carrying Lyme disease may be present in the park. It is important to check yourself and your pet following any hikes.
- During any month of the year, hikers should expect that steep slopes covered in snow can avalanche, with serious consequences. For more information on the avalanche hazard, visit Parks Mountain Safety or a Parks Canada Visitor Centre.
- In case of EMERGENCY, call 911 or satellite phone: 403-762-4506. Cell phones are not always reliable.
Show courtesy to fellow outdoor enthusiasts!
- Leave what you find. Natural and cultural resources such as rocks, fossils, artifacts, horns, antlers, wildflowers and nests are protected by law and must be left undisturbed for others to discover and enjoy.
- Take out what you bring in. Pack out all garbage, including diapers and food waste.
- Dispose of human waste at least 100 m from any water source. Bury solid human waste in a hole 15 cm deep. Pack out your toilet paper.
- To prevent damage to vegetation stay on the trail and avoid shortcuts.
- These trails are used by a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Be sure to yield to others.
- To learn more about how to reduce your impact on the trail visit Leave No Trace
- Do not feed, touch or approach wildlife. Stay at least 30 to 50 metres away from most animals, and 100 metres away from bears.
- Travel in groups of 4 or more and make noise to prevent surprise encounters with wildlife.
- If you are planning to take your dog out on a trail, please respect the following: dogs can stress wildlife as they can remind them of predators such as wolves and coyotes. Keep your dog under control and on a leash at all times. Dogs are not permitted on trails with seasonal restrictions.
- Study the Warnings and Closures, Weekly Bear Report and Bears and People
The Canadian Rocky Mountain national parks are an important part of the remaining grizzly and black bear habitat in North America. Even in protected areas, bears are challenged to avoid people. Think of what it would be like to be a bear travelling through the mountain national parks in midsummer – trying to bypass towns, campgrounds, highways, railways, and busy trails – and still find enough food to survive.
To successfully raise cubs and sustain a healthy population, bears need access to as much quality habitat as possible over a short period of time, with few human surprises. Before you hit the trail, think about the time of year, what the bears are doing, and give them the space they need to survive.
- Carry bear spray with you at all times, ensure it is at hand, and know how to use it.
- Make noise. Being quiet puts you at risk for sudden bear encounters. Be alert through shrubby areas and when approaching blind corners. Travel in groups and always look ahead.
- Report all bear sightings and encounters to Parks Canada staff at 403-762-1470, when it is safe to do so.
- Bears in the Mountain National Parks
- Bear Safety