Along the spine of the North American continent, the Rocky Mountains rise high into the clouds and blue glaciers cling to their slopes. Green forested valleys provide a vital food source for grizzly bears and other species. This is the Lake Louise and Icefields area of Banff National Park, a landscape of wonder which has been dubbed the “hiking capital of Canada”. Use the trail descriptions to choose a hike suitable for everyone in your party.

For maps, detailed route finding and trail descriptions, visit a Parks Canada Visitor Centre or purchase a hiking guide book and topographical map. Cell service is not reliable.


Important information:


Hikes on the Icefields Parkway:

Trail Distance (one way) Time (Round Trip)
Peyto Lake Viewpoint 0.6 km 30 minutes
Bow Summit Lookout 2.9 km 2.5 hours
Mistaya Canyon 0.5 km 30 minutes
Parker Ridge 2.7 km 2.5 hours
Bow Glacier Falls 4.6 km 3 hours
Helen Lake 6 km 4 to 5 hours
Cirque Lake 4.2 km 3 hours
Chephren Lake 3.5 km 3 hours
Sunset Lookout 4.5 km 3 to 4 hours
Wilcox Pass 4 km 3 to 3.5 hours
Nigel Pass 7.2 km 4.5 to 5.5 hours
Molar Pass 10.5 km 7 to 8 hours
North Molar Pass 11.9 km 8 to 9 hours
Dolomite Pass 9 km 6 to 7 hours
Sarbach Lookout 5.2 km 4 to 5 hours
Glacier Lake 8.9 km 6 to 7 hours
Sunset Pass 8.2 km 6 to 7 hours

 Easy trails

Peyto Lake Viewpoint

Take a 0.6-km stroll up to the viewing platform to admire the turquoise lake from high up. A barrier-free trail (0.3 km) is available from the upper parking lot. From the viewpoint, continue on the self-guided nature trail (0.6 km loop) to explore the local forest.

Length: 0.6 km one way
Hiking time: 30 minutes round trip
Elevation gain: 25 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 40 km north of the Lake Louise junction at the Peyto Lake parking lot. 

Bow Summit Lookout

From the highest point on the Icefields Parkway (2070 m), hike beyond the Peyto Lake Viewpoint on the upper self-guided nature trail, then follow an old fire road to the lookout. Watch for pikas, marmots and ptarmigan.

Length: 2.9 km one way
Hiking time: 2.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 245 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 40 km north of the Lake Louise junction at the Peyto Lake parking lot.

Mistaya Canyon

A brief, relatively steep descent leads to a footbridge traversing the zig-zag curves of Mistaya Canyon and a powerful river below. For your safety, do not walk out on the rocks along the edge of the canyon.

Length: 0.5 km one way
Hiking time: 30 minutes round trip
Elevation gain: 25 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 74 km north of the Lake Louise junction. 

Parker Ridge Lookout

After a series of switchbacks you’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier – headwaters of the Saskatchewan River. Help maintain this fragile alpine ecosystem by staying on the trail.

Length: 2.7 km one way
Hiking time: 2.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 250 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 40 km north of Saskatchewan Crossing or 9 km south of the Icefield Centre.


trail rating= moderate Moderate trails

Bow Glacier Falls

At the base of Bow Glacier Falls, amid the spray and roar, you can witness the birth of a river. The Bow River, part of western Canada’s largest watershed, begins as meltwater tumbling down from the Wapta Icefield.

Length: 4.6 km one way
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 155 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 36 km north of the Lake Louise junction, 400 m down the Num-ti-jah Lodge access road.

Helen Lake

Tucked well into the Main Ranges of the Canadian Rockies is a breathtaking lake in a valley abounding with alpine wildlife and grand vistas.

Length: 6 km one way
Hiking time: 4 to 5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 455 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 33 km north of the Lake Louise junction across from the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint.

Cirque Lake

This path is thickly forested, but offers mountain and glacier views at the shore of the lake. Note that the trail is often muddy.

Length: 4.2 km one way
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 150 m
Trailhead: Same as Chephren Lake.

Chephren Lake

Chephren Lake lies underneath the brooding walls of Howse Peak and Mount Chephren. This trail is often very muddy.

Length: 3.5 km one way
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 80 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 57.5 km north of the Lake Louise junction in the Waterfowl Lakes Campground.

Sunset Lookout

There is no question that old fire tower locations offer up great views. A 1.6 km branch off the Sunset Pass trail allows you to enjoy an almost vertical view down to the confluence of the Alexandra and North Saskatchewan Rivers.

Length: 4.5 km one way
Hiking time: 3 to 4 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 390 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 16.5 km north of the Saskatchewan Crossing.

Wilcox Pass

Rise quickly above treeline to the expansive meadows of this glacier-carved landscape. Bighorn sheep are sometimes seen in this area.

Length: 4 km one way
Hiking time: 3 to 3.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 335 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 47 km north of Saskatchewan Crossing, or 3 km south of the Icefield Centre at the entrance to the Wilcox Creek campground in Jasper National Park.

Nigel Pass

A consistent and gentle grade ensures that it doesn’t take long to reach treeline as you head towards the wide-open scenery of the Banff / Jasper boundary.

Length: 7.2 km one way
Hiking time: 4 to 4.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 365 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 37 km north of Saskatchewan Crossing or 13 km south of the Icefield Centre.


Difficult trails

Molar Pass

Travel into Banff National Park’s wilderness as you rise well above treeline to an expansive alpine meadow.

Length: 10.5 km one way
Hiking time: 7 to 8 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 530 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 24 km north of Lake Louise.

North Molar Pass

At the Molar Pass trail junction you have the option of travelling to the alpine meadows of Molar Pass or heading left to this higher pass, a rugged and stark landscape of rocky meadows.

Length: 11.9 km one way
Hiking time: 8 to 9 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 760 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 24 km north of Lake Louise.

Dolomite Pass

After you’ve made it to Helen Lake, you can extend your hike and get a geology lesson at the same time: at the pass you’ll have great views of Dolomite Peak, a picture perfect layer-cake mountain, as well the wine-coloured folds below the summit of Cirque Peak.

Length: 9 km one way
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 550 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 33 km north of the Lake Louise junction across from the Crowfoot Glacier Viewpoint.

Sarbach Lookout

This trail is a good physical workout, but since the fire lookout closed in 1971, forest growth has increasingly blocked the views.

Length: 5.2 km one way
Hiking time: 4 to 5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 590 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 71 km north of the Lake Louise junction, or 6 km south of Saskatchewan Crossing, at the Mistaya Canyon parking lot.

Glacier Lake

Snow-free early in the season, this rolling wooded trail takes you to a picturesque lake set below the peaks seen by early European explorers.

Length: 8.9 km one way
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 210 m gain / 220 m loss
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 1 km north of the Saskatchewan Crossing.

Sunset Pass

Climb steadily through a thick forest to reach an expansive meadow atop Sunset Pass. Look west for a panorama of the largest peaks in the parks, or east into the remote White Goat Wilderness Area.

Length: 8.2 km one way
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 725 m
Trailhead: Highway 93 North, 16.5 km north of the Saskatchewan Crossing.