Banff National Park, Canada’s first national park and the world’s third, was established in 1885 in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta. The park is surrounded by additional national parks: Jasper National Park to the north, Yoho National Park to the west, and Kootenay National Park to the south.
With over 2,564 square miles of mountains, forests, valleys, rivers, glaciers, and lakes there is a lot of exploring to do in Banff National Park. Here are four quintessential hikes of the park to complete your trip to the area.
1. Surprise Corner to Hoodoos
Starting from Surprise Corner, where a great view of the historic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel can be seen, the 3 mile one way hike connects to Banff’s unique hoodoos. These hoodoos look like they belong in the Utah desert, but instead the backdrop is of Bow Valley and iconic Mount Rundle. In the summer time, jump on the Roam city bus as an easy option to get back into town at the end of the hike.
2. Bourgeon Lake and Harvey Pass
Hike through lush forest and across mountain streams to finish at the dramatic glacially-carved amphitheater that is the backdrop to Bourgeau Lake.
The 4.5 mile one way hike steadily climbs up the trail to the subalpine lake. For the adventurous, continue another 1.4 miles on a steep trail that switchbacks above Bourgeau Lake and hike through a scree field covered in snow to reach Harvey Lake and eventually Harvey Pass.
The 360 degree view at Harvey Pass is spectacular and includes snowcapped peaks along the Continental Divide.
3. Ink Pots
A 5.4 mile one way hike will lead you to seven crystal clear jade-green spring fed pools. The Ink Pots are in an open meadow with expansive views of Johnston Canyon Valley. The hike to the pools goes into the popular Johnston Canyon. A boardwalk brings hikers up and down on cliff-mounted staircases through the gorge to Lower and Upper Falls.
4. Sulphur Mountain
It’s a short drive from Banff town center to the Sulphur Mountain trailhead. The 3.4 mile switchback trail bring hikers along the slopes of Sulphur Mountain to the top of the gondola where the reward is breathtaking mountain views.
For the peak baggers, Sanson Peak can be reached by hiking another 0.3 miles along a boardwalk to where a 1903 weather observatory still sits. An alternative option to hiking down the mountain is the Banff Gondola that can be taken back down the mountain for $24 during the summer and fall.
These hikes just skim the surface of the endless miles of trails that can be hiked and mountain biked in Banff National Park. Check out this article for more information on exploring the park.