Rushing rivers, snow-capped peaks, alpine meadows, and glacially carved cirques make the wilderness surrounding the town of Banff a hiker’s paradise. Trails lace the Banff area, ranging from low-elevation strolls along boardwalks to more strenuous full-day outings that lead seasoned hikers to some of the best alpine passes the Rocky Mountains have to offer. Choose a trail suitable to your needs and abilities and enjoy the wonders of Banff National Park.

Guidebooks and topographic maps are available at the Banff Visitor Centre, 224 Banff Avenue, and retail outlets in the town of Banff.

Important information:


Hiking in the Banff area:

Trail Distance Time (Round Trip)
 Fenland Trail 2.1 km loop 40 minutes
 Marsh Loop 2.6 km loop 1 hour
 Spray River East (from trailhead) 5.7 km one way 3 to 4 hours
 Spray River West (from Spray River bridge) 5.6 km one way 3 to 4 hours
 Tunnel Campground Loop 6.4 km one way 1.5 hours
 Stewart Canyon 1.5 km one way 1 hour
 Johnson Lake 2.8 km one way 1 hour
 Sunshine Meadows 10 km of trails 4 to 5 hours
 Johnston Canyon (to Lower Falls) 1.2 km one way 1 hour
 Johnston Canyon (to Upper Falls) 2.5 km one way 2 hours
 Silverton Falls 0.9 km one way 40 minutes
 Boom Lake 5.1 km one way 3 to 4 hours
 Vista Lake 1.4 km one way 1.5 hours
  Sundance Canyon 3.7 km one way plus 1.6 km loop 3 hours
 Ink Pots 5.7 km one way 4 hours
 Sulphur Mountain 5.5 km one way 4 hours
 Tunnel Mountain Summit 2.4 km one way 2 hour
 Surprise Corner to Hoodoos 4.8 km one way 3 hours
 Upper Stoney 2.1 km one way 1.5 hours
 Cascade Amphitheatre 7.7 km one way 6 hours
 C-Level Cirque 3.9 km one way 3 hours
 Healy Pass 8.8 km one way 6 to 7 hours
 Bourgeau Lake 7.5 km one way 6 hours
 Harvey Pass 9.7 km one way 6 to 7 hours
 Rockbound Lake 8.4 km one way 6 to 7 hours
 Arnica Lake 5 km one way 5 hours
 Twin Lakes 8 km one way 6 to 7 hours
 Aylmer Lookout 11.8 km one way 7 to 8 hours
 Aylmer Pass 13.5 km one way 8 to 9 hours
 Cory Pass Loop 13 km one way 6 hours

 Easy trails

Fenland Trail

Learn about the local ecosystem on this self-guided interpretive trail through old-growth spruce. This short loop is a pleasant escape from the bustle of town.

Length: 2.1 km loop
Hiking time: 40 minute round trip
No elevation gain
Trailhead: Fenland Trail parking area, west of Mount Norquay Road. Trailhead is a 20 minute/1.5 km walk from downtown Banff.

Marsh Loop

This trail encircles a wetland filled from hot springs flowing out of the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain. Due to heavy horse use, the Marsh Loop tends to be muddy after rain.

Length: 2.6 km loop
Hiking time: 1 hour round trip
Elevation gain: Minimal
Trailhead: Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff.

  Roam Route 4

Spray River East and West

Often done as a loop, these two lengthy but relatively easy forested trails are popular with hikers, cyclists and horseback riders. They traverse rolling terrain along either side of the Spray River. A short walk around the Fairmont Banff Springs links the east and west trailheads via a small scenic bridge.

East

Length: 5.7 km one way from Spray River East trailhead (Golf Course Road) to Spray River bridge
Elevation gain: 135 m
Elevation loss: 80 m 

West

Length: 5.6 km one way from Spray River bridge to Spray River West trailhead
Elevation gain: 70 m
Elevation loss: 105 m

Hiking time: 3 to 4 hour round trip

Trailhead: Spray River East trailhead on the Golf Course Road. Trailhead is a 30 minute/2.2 km walk from downtown Banff

 

Tunnel Campground Loop

This lightly forested trail can be joined at any number of points from within the campground. There is no designated parking lot—walk or take Roam Public Transit from downtown to access this trail.

Length: 6.4 km loop
Elevation gain: 70 m
Hiking time: 1.5 hour round trip
Trailhead: Start at the Hidden Ridge Resort Roam Transit stop. Trailhead is a 35 minute/2.5 km walk from downtown Banff

  Roam Route 2

Stewart Canyon

From the day-use area, this low elevation trail follows the Lake Minnewanka reservoir shoreline to a bridge spanning the walls of Stewart Canyon.

Length: 1.5 km one way
Elevation gain: Minimal
Hiking time: 1 hour round trip
Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka Day-use Area

  Roam Route 6

Johnson Lake

This circuit around the lake crosses open slopes, passes some of Alberta’s oldest Douglas fir trees, and detours around a shallow bay where waterfowl often rest. This hike offers views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle.

Length: 2.8 km loop
Elevation gain: Minimal
Hiking time: 1 hour round trip
Trailhead: Johnson Lake Day-use Area

  Roam Route 6

Sunshine Meadows

The most popular trail in this network crests the Continental Divide and descends to a viewpoint at Rock Isle Lake. From there, you can hike the slightly more challenging Grizzly-Larix Lakes Loop, continue on the Twin Cairns-Meadow Park trail or hike up to Standish viewpoint. Detailed trail maps are available through Sunshine Village.

Length: 10 km of trails
Elevation gain: 200 m
Hiking time: 4 to 5 hour round trip
Trailhead: Sunshine Village, accessible by a fee-based gondola from the Sunshine Village parking area from early July to early September

 Sunshine shuttle

Silverton Falls

This hike branches off the Rockbound Lake Trail at 0.3 km mark. It ends on an exposed hillside at the base of a waterfall that cascades over a series of narrow ledges.

Length: 0.9 km one way
Elevation gain: 90 m
Hiking time: 40 minute round trip
Trailhead: Rockbound Lake parking area

  Roam Route 8S to Castle Junction

Boom Lake

This gradual and easy ascent leads hikers through a picturesque forest to a large alpine lake surrounded by mountains.

Length: 5.1 km one way
Elevation gain: 175 m
Hiking time: 3 to 4 hour round trip
Trailhead: Boom Lake Day-use Area

 trail rating= moderate Easy/Moderate trails

Sundance Canyon trail

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.

Length: 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. Trailhead is a 30 minute/2 km walk from downtown Banff.

Roam Route 4

Johnston Canyon / Ink Pots

This busy trail takes you into the depths of the canyon on wide paths and narrow bridges with railings that lead to the Lower Falls and to the spectacular 30 metre-high Upper Falls. For a unique perspective, continue 265 m further to the viewpoint at the top of the Upper Falls. Beyond the falls, a forested trail continues up and down to a meadow where water bubbles from deep below the Earth’s surface into shallow pools called the Ink Pots.

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.

Lower Falls

Length: 1.2 km one way to the Lower Falls from trailhead
Elevation gain: 50 m
Hiking time: 1 hour round trip 

Upper Falls

Length: 2.5 km one way to the Upper Falls from trailhead
Elevation gain: 120 m
Hiking time: 2 hour round trip

Ink pots

Length: 5.7 km one way to the Ink Pots from trailhead
Elevation gain: 330 m
Elevation loss: 140 m
Hiking time: 4 hour round trip

Trailhead: Johnston Canyon Day-use Area

Roam Route 9

Vista Lake / Arnica Lake / Twin Lakes

Lose elevation to Vista Lake before you gain it en route to Arnica Lake; the views and variety make this destination worth the ups and downs. Hike under a canopy of larch trees and through a mosaic of wildflowers while the Continental Divide guides you to Arnica and Twin lakes.

Vista Lake

Length: 1.4 km one way from trailhead to Vista Lake
Elevation loss: 120 m
Hiking time: 1.5 hour round trip

Arnica Lake

Length: 5 km one way from trailhead to Arnica Lake
Elevation gain: 580 m
Elevation loss: 120 m
Hiking time: 5 hour round trip

Lower Twin Lake

Length: 8 km one way from trailhead to Lower Twin Lake Elevation gain: 715 m
Elevation loss: 315 m
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip


Trailhead: Vista Lake viewpoint on Highway 93 South, on the east side of the road. Parking on the highway is illegal.

trail rating= moderate Moderate trails

Sulphur Mountain

Switchbacks on the slopes of Sulphur Mountain provide a steady uphill hike to a summit renowned for its expansive mountain views. At the top, enjoy the 0.5 km boardwalk along the ridge ending at Sanson Peak. Here, you will find the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site and the 1903 weather observatory. From the boardwalk, return on the same trail to the parking lot. Alternatively, take an old fire road known as the Sulphur Mountain Westside Trail (5.4 km) to Sundance Trail, ending at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site (2.6 km). Please note that if you choose to go down to the westside trail, you will need to find your own transportation back to the Sulphur Mountain trailhead.

Length: 5.5 km to top of gondola, plus 0.5 km to Sanson Peak
Elevation gain: 655 m
Hiking time: 4 hour round trip
Trailhead: Banff Upper Hot Springs parking area

Roam Route 1

Tunnel Mountain Summit

Accessible from downtown Banff, this trail switchbacks to a low summit with sweeping views across the town, Bow Valley and Mount Rundle rising dramatically to the south.

Length: 2.4 km one way
Elevation gain: 260 m
Hiking time: 2 hour round trip
Trailhead: Lower parking area on St. Julien Road. Trailhead is a 15 minute/1 km walk from downtown Banff

Surprise Corner to Hoodoos

This pleasant trail passes below the steep cliffs of Tunnel Mountain and meanders along the Bow River. Be aware of the many branching trails that form part of the Tunnel Mountain biking trails network. Always stay on the most southeast trail. As the final section of trail ascends, views open up across the Bow Valley to Mount Rundle. In summer, Roam Public Transit route 2 provides an easy option for returning to town from nearby Tunnel Mountain campground.

Length: 4.8 km one way
Elevation gain: 115 m, elevation loss 90 m
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Trailhead: Surprise Corner, east end of Buffalo Street. Trailhead is a 20 minute/1.6 km walk from downtown Banff

Upper Stoney

Climb through the forest to enjoy views of Cascade Mountain and the Bow Valley from Stoney Lookout. Along the way, the trail passes through a forest of trees covered in wispy lichen.

Length: 2.1 km one way
Elevation gain: 190 m
Hiking time: 1.5 hour round trip
Trailhead: Kiosk at the south end of Mount Norquay parking area

Norquay Shuttle

Cascade Amphitheatre

From the ski-area lodge, walk the gravel road all the way to the third chairlift (Mystic Express) where the single track trail starts. Allow a full day for a return trip through the forest, opening to a meadow surrounded by a natural amphitheatre. From the maintained trail, experienced scramblers with proper equipment can attempt the summit of Cascade Mountain.

Get route finding information in the Scrambler’s Guide to Cascade Mountain or at a Parks Canada visitor centre.

Length: 7.7 km one way
Elevation gain: 640 m, elevation loss 150 m
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip
Trailhead: Kiosk at the south end of Mount Norquay parking area

Norquay Shuttle

C-Level Cirque

Hike past historic foundations and vents from the abandoned Bankhead mining operation on your way to a massive glacially-carved cirque in the cool northern face of Cascade Mountain.

Length: 3.9 km one way
Elevation gain: 455 m
Hiking time: 3 hour round trip
Trailhead: Upper Bankhead Day-use Area

Healy Pass

This trail follows Healy Creek to its source amid open meadows above the treeline. Wildflowers bloom profusely from mid-July to late August, and scattered alpine larches turn a magnificent golden yellow in late September.

Length: 8.8 km one way
Elevation gain: 655 m
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Trailhead: Sunshine Village parking area behind the main gondola building

 Sunshine Shuttle

Bourgeau Lake / Harvey Pass

A steady climb through lush forest and across mountain streams lead to Bourgeau Lake which is enclosed in a glacially carved amphitheatre. From the lake, a 2.2 km more difficult trail continues upward to Harvey Pass where exceptional views extend to peaks along the Continental Divide.

Bourgeau Lake

Length: 7.5 km one way from trailhead to Bourgeau Lake
Elevation gain: 725 m
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip

Harvey Pass

Length: 9.7 km one way from trailhead to Harvey Pass
Elevation gain: 1020 m
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip


Trailhead: Bourgeau Lake parking area. Parking on the highway is illegal.

Rockbound Lake

A long steady climb through a mixed forest leads behind the distinctive cliffs of Castle Mountain to open meadows and flower-fringed Tower Lake, 7.5 km from the trailhead. The trail then climbs a low cliff band and emerges in a glacial cirque filled by Rockbound Lake.

Length: 8.4 km one way
Elevation gain: 760 m
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Trailhead: Rockbound Lake parking area

Roam Route 8S to Castle Junction

trail rating= difficult Difficult trails

Aylmer Lookout / Aylmer Pass

From the day-use area, follow the Lake Minnewanka reservoir shoreline for 7.8 km to the Aylmer Pass junction, then embark on a steady 2.3 km climb to a second junction. At this intersection, either follow signs and continue onto Aylmer Pass (3.4 km one way), or take an out-and-back trip to Aylmer Lookout (1.7 km one way). Aylmer Lookout Trail climbs to a decommissioned fire lookout with view of Lake Minnewanka reservoir and the surrounding mountains. Aylmer Pass opens to wide meadows of wildflowers and views of the slate-grey Palliser Range.

A group access restriction occurs on this trail from July 10 to September 15 annually. Other bear warnings, restrictions and closures are common throughout summer. Get current trail information.

Aylmer Lookout

Length: 11.8 km one way from trailhead to Aylmer Lookout
Elevation gain: 560 m
Hiking time: 7 to 8 hour round trip

Aylmer Pass

Length: 13.5 km one way from trailhead to Aylmer Pass
Elevation gain: 805 m
Hiking time: 8 to 9 hour round trip


Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka Day-use Area

 Roam Route 6

Cory Pass Loop

The unobstructed view of Mount Louis, an imposing limestone monolith, is worth the strenuous uphill trek to Cory Pass. Rather than returning via the same route, energetic hikers have the option of descending into the Gargoyle Valley before returning to the trailhead via Edith Pass.

Route finding can be challenging beyond Cory Pass.

Length: 13 km loop
Elevation gain: 915 m
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip
Trailhead: Fireside Day-use Area