Important information about Johnston Canyon: From August 15, 2022 to late fall 2022, the pedestrian railing located on the Johnston Canyon Trail from the Lower Falls to the Upper Falls will be replaced and extended. During construction, the upper portion of the trail between Lower Falls and Upper Falls will be closed. The lower portion of the trail from the parking lot to the Lower Falls will remain open. For more information on what remains accessible to the public at Johnston Canyon, transit options and parking details, go here.

Watch 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.

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.

  • 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, bear spray and a satellite emergency communication device like SpotX, inReach or Zoleo, and know how to use them.
  • 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, which could carry 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.

Snowy trails and season avalanche risk

Snow can remain on some trails well into the summer. When trails are snow covered, route finding can be difficult and travel through deep or hard snow or ice can be unsafe. Be prepared and check trail conditions before heading out.

Trails above tree line (2 000 m) may be exposed to avalanche hazard at any time of the year and especially from November through June. Snow on steep slopes has the potential to slide.

 

Wildlife

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:

If you see a large carnivore, such as a bear, cougar, wolf or coyote, please report the sighting (when it is safe to do so) by calling Banff Dispatch at 1-403-762-1470.

More information
Recommended packing list

    Trail guide and map

    Full water bottle or thermos

    High energy food

    Bear spray

    Sunscreen and sunglasses

    First aid kit and emergency blanket

    Headlamp or flashlight with spare batteries

    Hat and gloves

    Proper footwear

    Hiking poles

    Rain/wind jacket

    Extra warm clothing in case of an emergency

    Fully charged cell phone

    Satellite emergency communication device like SpotX, inReach or Zoleo

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.
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 and must be left undisturbed for others to discover and enjoy. 
  • If you are too far away to use the toilets provided at the trailheads, 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.
Roam Public Transit and shuttle services

Trails identified with a bus symbol indicate that the trailhead is accessible by Roam Public Transit and/or private shuttle service. Parking at trailheads is limited and fills quickly. For the best experience, take public transit or a shuttle.

Where to hike