UPDATE: Starting June 1, some Parks Canada places will begin to offer limited access and services while maintaining physical distancing measures. Openings will differ across the country. Information will be updated regularly. Find details here.

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.

Public Transit and Shuttle Services

Parking is limited and fills quickly during daylight hours, so planning ahead is key. Park your car and ride Roam Transit or Parks Canada shuttles from the Town of Banff to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake. Make the most of your visit to Banff National Park by using shuttles and transit.

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.

Snowy Trails

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

Seasonal Avalanche Risk

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. Steep slopes that are snow covered have the potential to avalanche. For more information on the avalanche hazard, visit a Parks Canada visitor centre or check the Mountain Safety section.


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.

Easy Trails | Moderate Trails | Difficult Trails | Trail Report


trail rating = easy Easy trails

Trail Distance (one way) Time (return) Elevation (m)
Lake Louise Lakeshore 2 km
1 hour minimal
Fairview Lookout 1 km
45 minutes 100
Bow River Loop 7.1 km (round trip) 2 hours minimal
Louise Creek 2.8 km
1.5 hours 195 m
Moraine Lake Lakeshore 1.5 km
45 minutes minimal
Consolation Lakes 2.9 km
2 hours 65

Descriptions of easy trails

faciles Lake Louise Lakeshore

Length: 2 km one way
Hiking time: 1 hour
Elevation gain: minimal
Trailhead: Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Parking lot is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September. Transit Info    

Description: This accessible stroll allows visitors of all abilities to explore Lake Louise. At the end of the lake you’ll discover the milky creek that gives the lake its magical colour.

faciles Fairview Lookout

Length: 1 km one way
Hiking time: 45 minute round trip
Elevation gain: 100 m
Trailhead: Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Parking lot is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September. Transit Info    

Description: Leaving from the boathouse on Lake Louise, this short, uphill hike offers you a unique look at both the lake and the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.

faciles Bow River Loop

Length: 7.1 km round trip
Hiking time: 2 hour round trip
Elevation gain: minimal
Trailhead: Parking lot opposite the Lake Louise train station (restaurant). Lake Louise is accessible by Transit and recommended from June – September. Transit Info

Description: Travel on a pleasant interpretive trail in the rich riparian zone of the Bow River. These waters travel across the prairies to their ultimate destination in Hudson Bay, over 2500 kilometres downstream of Lake Louise.

faciles Louise Creek

Length: 2.8 km one way
Hiking time: 1.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 195 m
Trailhead: From Samson Mall (Lake Louise Village), walk along Lake Louise Drive to a bridge crossing the Bow River. Cross the bridge and then look for the trailhead on the downstream side of the bridge.

Description: Hike through a thick subalpine forest, following the entire length of Louise Creek as it rushes from Lake Louise to the Bow River.

faciles Moraine Lake Lakeshore

Length: 1.5 km one way
Hiking time: 45 minute round trip
Elevation gain: minimal
Trailhead: Take transit to Moraine Lake, begin just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Transit Info

Description: This stroll allows visitors of all abilities to explore Moraine Lake. Along the trail you will gain a magnificent view of Mount Fay and the Fay Glacier.

faciles Consolation Lakes

Length: 2.9 km one way
Hiking time: 2 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 65 m
Trailhead: Take transit to Moraine Lake. Start at the bridge near the Rockpile at Moraine Lake. Transit Info

Description: Hiking to Consolation Lakes requires much less effort than most of the Moraine Lake trails, but rewards the hiker with views of high alpine meadows, enormous talus slopes and the Quadra Glacier.


trail rating= moderate Moderate trails

Trail Distance (one way) Time (return) Elevation
Lake Agnes 3.4 km 2.5 to 3 hours 385 m
Plain of Six Glaciers 5.3 km 4 hours 365 m
Tramline 4.5 km 2.5 hours 195 m
Lake Annette 5.7 km 4 hours 245 m
Eiffel Lake 5.6 km 4.5 hours 370 m
Larch Valley / Minnestimma Lakes 4.3 km 3.5 to 4 hours 535 m

Descriptions of moderate trails

Except for the Tramline Trail, these trails are exposed to avalanche hazard and travel is not recommended from mid-October through to mid-June.

trail rating= moderate Lake Agnes

Length: 3.4 km one way
Hiking time: 2.5 to 3 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 385 m
Trailhead: Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Upper Lake Louise parking area is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September. Transit Info    

Description: Framed by a quaint European-style tea house (seasonal), the Lake Agnes hike is the most “civilized” way to see the Rockies. To get there, hike up the well maintained trail and enjoy a beautiful tarn tucked underneath towering peaks.

Side trip to Big Beehive: 1.6 km one way; 135 m elevation gain from Lake Agnes. Beyond Lake Agnes, use switchbacks to climb the Big Beehive for a stunning panorama of Lake Louise and the Chateau.

Side trip to Little Beehive: 1 km one way; 105 m elevation gain from Lake Agnes. The Little Beehive was once the site of a fire lookout, and offers commanding views of the Bow Valley.

trail rating= moderate Plain of Six Glaciers

Length: 5.3 km one way
Hiking time: 4 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 365 m
Trailhead: Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Upper Lake Louise parking area is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September. Transit Info   

Description: Beyond Lake Louise you’ll discover a high mountain treasure chest; a collection of impressive peaks and glaciers. Here, you can relax and enjoy the view or rest at a quaint Swiss-built tea house (seasonal). Connect the Lake Agnes and Plain of Six Glaciers trails, via the Highline trail, to form a 14.6 km loop. 5 hour round trip.

Side trip to Abbot Pass Viewpoint: 1.5 km one way; 50 m elevation gain; 1 hour round trip. Look down into crevasses on the Lower Victoria Glacier, and look up to Abbot Hut, one of the highest buildings in Canada.

trail rating= moderate Tramline

Length: 4.5 km one way
Hiking time: 2.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 195 m
Trailhead: Parking lot opposite the Lake Louise train station (restaurant). Lake Louise is accessible by transit and recommended from June - September. Transit Info

Description: Follow in the footsteps – or trolley wheels – of travellers who, a century ago, were dropped off at the railway station and then ferried, by tram, on this 3% railway grade to the Chateau Lake Louise.

trail rating= moderate Lake Annette

Length: 5.7 km one way
Hiking time: 4 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 245 m
Trailhead: Follow the Moraine Lake Road for 2.5 km to a parking lot on the right hand side.

Description: The steady hike through the subalpine forest is a perfect prelude for the wonderful sensory experience that will greet you at Lake Annette.

trail rating= moderate Eiffel Lake

Length: 5.6 km one way
Hiking time: 4.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 370 m
Trailhead:  Take transit to Moraine Lake, begin just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Transit Info

Description: The trail to Eiffel Lake splits off from the Larch Valley trail and takes you high along the side of the valley to panoramic views overlooking Eiffel Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.

trail rating= moderate Larch Valley / Minnestimma Lakes

Length: 4.3 km one way
Hiking time: 3.5 to 4 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 535 m
Trailhead: Take transit to Moraine Lake, begin just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Transit Info

Description: Hike into a unique larch forest high above Moraine Lake. Views of the Ten Peaks are breathtaking.


trail rating = difficult Difficult trails

Trail Distance (one way) Time (return) Elevation
Saddleback 3.7 km to pass 3 to 4 hours 595 m
Fairview Mountain 5.1 km to summit 5 to 6 hours 1013 m
Sheol / Paradise Connector 4.1 km connector only 1 to 2 hours (one way) 500 m
Boulder Pass 8.6 km to pass 6 to 7 hours 640 m
Paradise Valley and Giant Steps 10.3 or 10.9 km 7 to 8 hours 385 m
Sentinel Pass Connector 2.3 km 1 to 2 hours (one way) 505 m
Sentinel Pass 5.8 km 4.5 to 5.5 hours 725 m
Wenkchemna Pass 9.7 km 7.5 to 8 hours 720 m

Descriptions of difficult trails

Except for the official Boulder Pass Trail, these trails are exposed to avalanche hazard and travel is not recommended from mid-October through to mid-June.

trail rating = difficult Saddleback

Length: 3.7 km to pass
Hiking time: 3 to 4 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 595 m
Trailhead:  Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Upper Lake Louise parking area is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September.  Transit Info

Description: From the boathouse on the shore of Lake Louise, rise steadily up to Saddleback for tantalizing views of Mount Temple and Paradise Valley. Here you’ll find good larch tree viewing in the fall.

trail rating = difficult Fairview Mountain

Length: 5.1 km to summit
Hiking time: 5 to 6 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 1013 m
Trailhead:  Upper Lake Louise parking area, 4 km from the village of Lake Louise. Upper Lake Louise parking area is accessible by transit and recommended from June – September.  Transit Info    

Description: In a region that was explored by Swiss Mountain Guides in the early 20th century, it makes sense to challenge your inner mountaineer with a steep hike up a famous peak. And the “fair” view at the top? It’s downright spectacular!

trail rating = difficult Sheol / Paradise Connector

Length: 4.1 km (connector only)
Hiking time: 1 to 2 hours one way
Elevation gain: 500 m gain / loss (depending on direction)
Trailhead: Upper Lake Louise parking or follow the Moraine Lake Road for 2.5 km to the Paradise Valley parking lot on the right hand side.

Description: Connect the Saddleback and Paradise Valley trails by using the Sheol/Paradise connector. A car shuttle may be needed depending on your route choice.

trail rating = difficult Boulder Pass

Length: 8.6 km to pass
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 640 m
Trailhead: Fish Creek parking area, off Whitehorn Road, 3 km north of Lake Louise.

Description: After 4 km on a wide access road, you will reach a world dotted with lakes and inviting alpine meadows. From the pass, you get a spectacular view into a remote corner of Banff National Park.

Side trip to Baker Lake: 3.4 km; 130 m elevation loss from Boulder Pass Visit the stunning shores of Baker Lake in the valley below Deception Pass.

Side trip to Deception Pass: 2.4 km; 145 m elevation gain from Boulder Pass Hike over to this windswept pass if you have energy to spare.

trail rating = difficult Paradise Valley and Giant Steps

Length: 10.3 or 10.9 km one way
Hiking time: 7 to 8 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 385 m
Trailhead: Follow the Moraine Lake Road for 2.5 km to a parking lot on the right hand side.

Description: Here’s a chance to enjoy great views of Mount Temple, identify midsummer wildflowers and witness dramatic surroundings at the Giant Steps Waterfall.

trail rating = difficult Sentinel Pass Connector

Length: 2.3 km one way (connector only)
Hiking time: 1 to 2 hour one way
Elevation gain: 505 m gain/loss (depending on direction)
Trailhead: Same as Paradise Valley area trails or Moraine Lake area trails.

Description: Connect the Sentinel Pass and Paradise Valley Trails by using the Sentinel Pass Connector. A vehicle shuttle is required. Route finding may be required on the rocky slopes on the north side of Sentinel Pass. Check with the Lake Louise Visitor Centre for more details.

trail rating = difficult Sentinel Pass

Length: 5.8 km one way
Hiking time: 4.5 to 5.5 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 725 m
Trailhead: Take transit to Moraine Lake, begin just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Transit Info

Description: Steep switchbacks lead to two famous valleys: Larch Valley and Paradise Valley.

trail rating = difficult Wenkchemna Pass

Length: 9.7 km one way
Hiking time: 7.5 to 8 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 720 m
Trailhead: Take transit to Moraine Lake, begin just beyond the Moraine Lake Lodge. Transit Info

Description: Travel the entire length of the Valley of the Ten Peaks, wandering steadily into a high alpine environment to reach this spectacular pass on the Continental Divide.