Attention hikers:

Some Parks Canada places have begun a safe, gradual reopening of some outdoor areas and services. Visitors are encouraged to plan ahead and be well-prepared for their visit. Details here.
Safety

Safety is your responsibility. There are always hazards associated with outdoor recreation. Even short trips from the town of Banff can have serious consequences. Minimize your risk by planning ahead.

  • Check the weather forecast, current trail conditions, warnings and closures 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. Dress in layers, bring extra food and warm clothing.
  • Study descriptions and maps before heading out. Always choose a trail suitable for the least experienced member in your group.
  • Bring your own water. Surface water may be contaminated and unsafe for drinking.
  • Carry a first aid kit and bear spray.
  • Tell a reliable person where you are going, when you will be back, and who to call if you do not return: Banff Dispatch – 403-762-1470.
  • Ticks carrying Lyme disease may be present in the park. It is important to check yourself and your pet after hiking.
  • Avoid wearing earbuds or headphones. Be alert at all times.
  • In case of EMERGENCY, call 911 or satellite phone: 403-762-4506. Cell phone coverage is not reliable throughout the national park.
Recommended Packing List
  • Trail guide and map
  • Full water bottle or thermos
  • High energy food
  • Bear spray
  • Sunscreen and sunglasses
  • First aid kit
  • Headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries
  • Hat and gloves
  • Hiking poles
  • Rain/wind jacket
  • Extra warm clothing in case of an emergency
  • Cell phone or satellite emergency communication device.
Trail Etiquette

Show courtesy to fellow trail users!

  • Leave what you find —it is the law. 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.
  • 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 designated trails at all times.
  • Trails are used by a variety of outdoor enthusiasts. Be sure to yield to others.
  • Leave no trace. Pack out everything you pack in.
Wildlife and People


Banff National Park is home to wildlife including elk, wolves, cougars, grizzly bears and black bears. To successfully raise their young and sustain a healthy population, wildlife need access to as much quality habitat with as few human surprises as possible.

Be aware of possible encounters with wildlife in all areas of the park, including paved trails and roads.

Tips

  • Always carry bear spray, ensure it is accessible, and know how to use it before heading out. Bear spray is available at the Banff Visitor Centre, 224 Banff Avenue, and retail outlets in the town of Banff.
  • Make noise. Being quiet puts you at risk for sudden wildlife encounters. Be alert through shrubby areas and when approaching blind corners. Travel in tight groups and always be aware of your surroundings.
  • Report bear, cougar, wolf and coyote sightings and encounters to Parks Canada Dispatch when it is safe to do so: 403-762-1470.
  • Keep dogs on leash and under control at all times.

More information

Trail Ratings

Easy

  • Suitable for those with little or no trail experience.
  • Flat to gently rolling with no obstacles.
  • Little or no elevation gain or loss.

Moderate

  • Suitable for those with basic trail experience.
  • Gently rolling with short, steep sections and infrequent obstacles.
  • Moderate elevation gain or loss.

Difficult

  • Suitable only for those with trail experience.
  • Long, steep sections with frequent obstacles.
  • Major elevation gain or loss.
Estimated time to complete these trails ranges depending on trail distances, fitness levels, weather and trail conditions.
Public Transit and Shuttle Services

Attention:

To help limit exposure to COVID-19, transit in Banff National Park is operating at a reduced capacity. For specific details please see Roam Transit.

Trails identified with a bus symbol indicate that the trailhead is accessible by Roam Public Transit and/or private shuttle service:

Getting around the Banff area


  Cave and Basin Trail: Upper Boardwalk

Distance: 0.4km boardwalk
Elevation gain: minimal
On foot: Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff

Roam Route 4

Walk along the 0.4 km Upper Boardwalk above the bathing pavilion to see the cave vent and the location of the former Hotel. View the two smaller springs bubbling from the mountainside and the pools filled with pink bacteria, white and green algae, small fish, and insects.


  Cave and Basin Trail: Lower Boardwalk

Distance: 0.5km boardwalk
Elevation gain: minimal elevation gain
On foot: Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff

Roam Route 4

Explore the 0.5 km Lower Boardwalk below the building to find out more about the natural history of this area. Look for the fish and bird life that live in the wetlands below.


  Marsh Loop

Distance: 2.8 km loop
Elevation gain: minimal
Hiking time: 1 hour round trip
Trailhead: Cave and Basin National Historic Site
On foot: Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff

Roam Route 4

Marsh Loop is an enjoyable 2.8 km trail that encircles a wetland filled by water from hot springs flowing out of the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain. The unique environment is best observed below the Cave and Basin, where exotic plant species such as orchids thrive.


/   Sundance Trail/ Sundance Canyon

Distance: 3.7 km one way from trailhead plus 1.6 km moderate loop
Elevation gain: 155 m, elevation loss 60 m
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Trailhead: Cave and Basin National Historic Site
On foot: Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff

Roam Route 4

Follow the paved trail beyond the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Within a few minutes, views open up to a mountain panorama across the Bow River. After a gentle yet steady climb away from the river, the paved section ends and a moderately difficult trail loops through a water-filled canyon.