The Top Hiking Trails to Explore in Banff National Park
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 9 min read


  1. Explore Lake Louise
  2. Walk the Johnston Canyon
  3. Experience the Plain of Six Glaciers
  4. Discover the Icefields Parkway
  5. Trek the Sentinel Pass
  6. Visit the Consolation Lakes
  7. Hike the Ink Pots
  8. Venture to the Rockpile Trail
  9. Climb the Cascade Mountain
  10. Experience the Larch Valley

Are you wondering where to find the best hiking trails in Banff? As a hiker, the quest for the most breathtaking landscapes and unforgettable trails never ends. And there's no better place to start than Banff National Park, a paradise known for its awe-inspiring beauty. With a mind-blowing array of trails, each with its unique allure, Banff never disappoints. So, let's dive into the top hiking trails in Banff, starting with the iconic Lake Louise.

Explore Lake Louise

When it comes to hiking trails in Banff, Lake Louise is a must-visit. With its turquoise waters surrounded by towering peaks and sprawling glaciers, it's a sight to behold. But the real magic happens when you tie up your hiking boots and hit the trails.

Lake Louise Shoreline Trail: This trail offers an easy and accessible option. It's a flat, 4 km trek that takes you around the lake's edge, giving you stunning views of Victoria Glacier. You'll also pass by the historic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, a treat for architecture lovers.

Lake Agnes Teahouse and Big Beehive Trail: Ready for more of a challenge? This 7.6 km trail starts at the lake and climbs up to the charming Lake Agnes Teahouse. After a well-deserved break, you can continue onto the Big Beehive for panoramic views of Lake Louise.

Plain of Six Glaciers Trail: This trail is a bit of a step up at 14.6 km round trip. It'll take you past the teahouse and up to the glaciers. The views are worth every step, I promise.

Remember, no matter which trail you choose, always respect the park rules and carry out whatever you bring in. Happy hiking on the Lake Louise trails in Banff!

Walk the Johnston Canyon

Another gem on our list of top hiking trails in Banff is the Johnston Canyon. A hike through this canyon is like stepping into a fairy tale. The trail travels along a series of catwalks that cling to the canyon's limestone walls, providing you with an intimate view of the rushing waters below.

Lower Falls Trail: This is a relatively easy 2.6 km round trip that leads you to the captivating Lower Falls. You can even walk through a short tunnel to get a closer look at the waterfall. Quite a spectacle, isn't it?

Upper Falls Trail: If you're up for a slightly longer walk, continue on the trail to the Upper Falls. This 5.2 km round trip hike offers stunning views of the waterfall cascading down a 40m drop. Now that's a sight you don't want to miss!

Ink Pots Trail: For the more adventurous, continue past the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots - seven stunning, spring-fed pools of bright blue-green water. This 11.7 km round trip is a bit more challenging but the reward at the end is more than worth it.

Just remember, the Johnston Canyon can get quite busy, so consider starting your hike early in the morning or later in the afternoon. And don't forget to stay on the trail to protect the delicate vegetation. Enjoy your walk through the Johnston Canyon, one of the most unique hiking trails in Banff!

Experience the Plain of Six Glaciers

If you're searching for a trail that combines picturesque views of a lake, a teahouse, and multiple glaciers, then the Plain of Six Glaciers trail is the perfect choice among hiking trails in Banff.

Starting at the eastern shore of Lake Louise, the trail winds its way 5.3 km up to an old teahouse, a charming remnant from the early 20th century. Here, you can take a well-deserved rest and enjoy a hot cup of tea or cocoa, paired with a freshly baked pastry. Sounds like a good deal after a hike, right?

But don't get too comfortable just yet! You still have a bit of hiking ahead. An additional 1.3 km will take you to the lookout point, where you'll be greeted with breathtaking views of the six glaciers that give this trail its name. It's a sight that will make you want to reach for your camera instantly.

On your way back, consider taking the Highline trail for a change of scenery. This trail offers a different perspective of Lake Louise and will lead you back to the starting point.

So, are you ready to experience the Plain of Six Glaciers? Remember, always pack some warm clothes - it can get a bit chilly up there even on a sunny day. This is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable hiking trails in Banff.

Discover the Icefields Parkway

When it comes to the most scenic drives in the world, Icefields Parkway surely makes the cut. But did you know that it also boasts some of the best hiking trails in Banff? With over 200 km of pure nature, it's a paradise for any hiker.

Among the numerous hikes available, Parker Ridge is a standout. It's a relatively short hike—about 2.5 km each way—but the panoramic views of the Saskatchewan Glacier are nothing short of epic. You'll feel like you've stepped into a postcard!

Wilcox Pass is another trail you shouldn't miss. With a length of 8 km, it's a bit more challenging, but the sight of bighorn sheep grazing and the bright red Adirondack chairs at the top make it worth every step.

Finally, if you're someone who enjoys a bit of a challenge, the Athabasca Glacier trail is for you. While it's only 1 km long, it's a steep climb that leads to the toe of the glacier. How many people can say they've touched a glacier, after all?

So, what are you waiting for? The Icefields Parkway is not just a road, it's a journey into the heart of the Canadian Rockies. And remember, no matter which trail you choose, you're in for a treat!

Trek the Sentinel Pass

If you're looking for an unforgettable adventure on the hiking trails in Banff, the Sentinel Pass is a must-visit. Tucked away between the Valley of the Ten Peaks and Paradise Valley, it's a dream come true for every hiker out there.

Starting from Moraine Lake — yes, the one on the twenty-dollar bill — the trail takes you through the Larch Valley. Here, you can marvel at the golden larch trees in the fall. They're a sight to behold!

Then, the trail begins to climb, offering views of the Ten Peaks and even Lake Louise. It's a heart-pounding ascent, but the breathtaking vistas make it worth every drop of sweat.

Reaching the pass is a moment of victory. Standing at 2611 meters, you'll feel on top of the world. And let's not forget the grand finale: a panoramic view of Paradise Valley. It's like nothing you've seen before.

So, are you ready to conquer the Sentinel Pass? Remember, it's not just about the destination, but also the journey. And on this trail, both are equally stunning!

Visit the Consolation Lakes

Looking for a less challenging but equally rewarding hiking trail in Banff? The Consolation Lakes trail might be just what you need. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, this trail is accessible for hikers of all levels and offers a taste of the wild, untouched beauty of Banff.

Starting from the iconic Moraine Lake, the trail weaves through a dense forest before opening up to a valley filled with boulders. Navigating through this rocky landscape can be quite fun, kind of like a natural obstacle course!

But the real treat awaits at the end of the trail — the Consolation Lakes. These twin alpine lakes, framed by the towering peaks and glaciers, are a sight to behold. The crystal-clear waters reflect the surrounding mountains, creating a picture-perfect scene that deserves a spot in your photo album.

And the best part? You can enjoy this stunning view in peace, as this trail is less crowded compared to others in Banff. So pack a picnic, put on your hiking boots, and head out to the Consolation Lakes. It's an experience you won't want to miss!

Hike the Ink Pots

Next up on our list of top hiking trails in Banff is the spectacular Ink Pots trail. This trail is a bit of a hidden gem, and let me tell you, it's worth every step. Named for the seven stunningly blue-green mineral springs that bubble up at the trail's end, the Ink Pots offer a unique hiking experience you won't soon forget.

Starting from Johnston Canyon — which is an adventure in itself with its waterfalls and steep cliffs — the trail then veers off into the forest, ascending steadily towards the Ink Pots. Here's where the magic happens: as you hike higher, the crowds thin out, and the peace and quiet of the forest envelops you. It's just you, the trail, and the occasional squirrel or bird for company.

Reaching the Ink Pots feels like stepping into a fairy tale. The springs, nestled in a beautiful meadow and surrounded by mountains, are mesmerizing. The water is crystal clear, and you can see straight down to the sandy bottom, where the springs bubble up from the ground. It's a sight that'll have you reaching for your camera in no time.

So, if you're looking for a hiking trail in Banff that's a bit off the beaten path, the Ink Pots trail is a fantastic option. It offers a good workout, stunning views, and the chance to see a unique natural phenomenon up close. What more could you ask for?

Venture to the Rockpile Trail

Next on our journey through the top hiking trails in Banff, we come to the Rockpile Trail. This trail is often overlooked by those seeking more challenging hikes, but don't let its ease fool you — it's one of the most rewarding trails in the park.

The trail is short, sweet, and pretty much flat, making it perfect for families or those who prefer a more relaxed hike. But don't be mistaken, the lack of steep inclines doesn't mean a lack of stunning views. In fact, it's quite the opposite.

The Rockpile Trail takes you to the iconic Moraine Lake, a glacially-fed lake that is world-renowned for its vibrant blue color. As if the lake itself wasn't enough, the trail offers breathtaking panoramic views of the Valley of the Ten Peaks. It's a sight that will make you stop in your tracks and just stare in awe.

And here's a fun fact: the image of Moraine Lake and the Ten Peaks was once featured on the back of the Canadian twenty-dollar bill. Yes, it's that beautiful!

So, if you're looking for a leisurely hiking trail in Banff with views that pack a punch, the Rockpile Trail is a must-visit. It's proof that you don't always have to climb high to see incredible sights.

Climb the Cascade Mountain

Are you ready for a challenge? If so, the Cascade Mountain hike is your call to adventure among the hiking trails in Banff. This trail is a bit more strenuous, but the rewards make every step worth it.

Cascade Mountain is the towering beauty that dominates the Banff townsite. It's a sight you can't miss! But, do you know what's even better than looking up at this majestic peak? Standing on top of it, of course!

While the hike can be tough — it's a steep climb, after all — the views from the top are nothing short of spectacular. Imagine standing on the summit, with panoramic views of Banff National Park spreading out before you. The Bow Valley, Lake Minnewanka, and even distant peaks in Yoho and Kootenay National Parks - it's a sight for the books!

Remember to pace yourself during the hike, take plenty of water and snacks, and be sure to have a good pair of hiking boots. This trail can be a bit rocky, but don't let that deter you. The Cascade Mountain hike is a must for any hiker visiting Banff.

So, if you're up for a challenge and ready to conquer the heights, the Cascade Mountain trail should definitely be on your list of hiking trails in Banff to explore.

Experience the Larch Valley

Another gem among the hiking trails in Banff is the Larch Valley trail. This trail offers a unique and stunning experience, especially during the fall season. But what makes it so special? Let's find out.

The Larch Valley trail starts near Moraine Lake — another showstopper in Banff National Park. The trail takes you through a forest of larch trees. These trees are unique because they're deciduous conifers, which means they lose their needles in the fall.

And when autumn rolls around, these larch trees put on a show that's out of this world. They turn a brilliant gold color, lighting up the entire valley. It's as if you've stepped into a fairy tale, with golden trees all around you, set against the backdrop of the stunning Ten Peaks.

The trail itself isn't too challenging, making it a good option for families or those looking for a more leisurely hike. The round trip will take about four to five hours, but with the breathtaking scenery, you'll hardly notice the time passing by!

So, if you're planning your hiking trip in the fall, be sure to add the Larch Valley trail to your list of hiking trails in Banff to explore. It's an experience like no other!

If you're inspired by the stunning hiking trails in Banff National Park and want to capture the beauty of these landscapes in your photography, check out the workshop 'Find Your Way in Landscape Photography' by Sofia Podestà. This workshop will provide you with valuable tips and techniques to elevate your landscape photography skills and help you capture the breathtaking views on your next hiking adventure.