Banff National Park is a paradise for all nature-lovers. Whether traveling alone or with your entire family, there are hiking trails that fit every level of experience. We have compiled four easy hiking opportunities that guarantee stunning views without exhaustion… perfect, even for the littles ones.
Johnston Canyon is a quite popular destination for many travelers visiting Banff National Park. It’s located approximately 30 minutes southeast of Lake Louise via Trans-Canada highway. Because it’s so well known you’ll want to head out early to avoid the crowds. Johnston Canyon is open year-round giving you a different perspective whenever you visit. During the summer months, many shaded area provide a comfortable temperature. During the colder months, you’ll want to bring hiking boots because of the snow and mud that can make the tail slippery. However, the appeal to visiting Johnston Canyon during the winter are frozen waterfalls painting a mesmerizing picture.
You may choose to hike to the lower Johnston falls and/or the upper Johnston falls. The lower falls are an approximately 30-minute (0.7 miles one-way) hike. From the forest, you walk onto catwalks mounted to the sandstone cliffs above Johnston creek. Listen to the water roar beneath you while advancing deeper into the canyon. Don’t fear your safety, all catwalks have railings.
Alternatively, you may want to hike to the upper Johnston falls. The trail climbs out of the lower falls up through the forest. You will have stunning viewpoints of various waterfalls along the way. The trail is 1.6 miles one way (approximately 1-hour walk). A round-trip for both, upper and lower falls, will take approximately 2.5 hours.
Moraine Lake Shoreline
The moraine lake shoreline trail is a very popular out and back trail to go for a walk. Dogs are welcome; yet, must be on the leach. The hike is not very strenuous; thus, perfect for all experience levels. Be prepared for jaw-dropping views of the aqua-blue glacier lake.
Located in the Valley of Ten Peaks, the unparalleled scenery makes you feel like you’re in the midst of a landscape painting. To top it off, information boards along the way educate visitors on the surrounding geology.
The best months to experience the 1.8 mile moraine lake shoreline trail is from June until October. Because of the weather, seasonal restrictions do apply so make sure the trail is accessible during the time you’re visiting.
If you wish the exact view of the picture above, you’ll want to follow the Rockpile trail. It’s a 0.5 mile loop that takes you to a viewpoint you won’t want to miss. The best times to visit is from June until August. Because it’s a very popular trail, we recommend visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Bow Summit Lookout
Another very popular destination in Banff National Park is Peyto Lake and the Bow Summit Lookout. Peyto Lake is about a 40-minute drive northeast of Lake Louise. Watch out for the Bow Summit turnoff as to find Lake Peyto. The hike to the Peyto Lake lookout is more of a walk; yet, absolutely worth the views of the turquoise water.
If you want to hike to the Bow Summit Lookout, it’s about a 2.5-hour round trip (approximately 3.5 miles). The trailhead starts at the parking lot and takes you up to the viewpoint where you’ll have a fantastic scenery of the lake and the Peyto glacier. Be aware, it’s a moderately strenuous hike so be sure to bring enough water to stay hydrated… especially during the summer months.
Sunshine Meadows is yet another magical place in Banff National Park. Out of all easy hikes described above, it’s the least known and most serene to visit. The Rock Isle Lake trail is an easy out and back 2-mile hike (approximately 1.5-hour round trip). You may want to catch the Scenic Alpine Shuttle up to the Sunshine Village and Standish Chairlift. Sunshine Village is a popular snow-sport destination and famous for its powered snow. During the summer season it’s comparatively quiet and a great location to escape the crowds.
Sunshine Meadows provides easy access into the alpine region in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a unique and tranquil setting with lush grassland and the defined jagged beauty of the Rockies in the distance. Be amazed by the colorful bloom of wildflowers, buttercups, geraniums, lupines, shooting stars, and locoweed during the summer months.