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7 Best Hikes in Banff, Alberta

7 Best Hikes in Banff, Alberta

Looking for the best hikes in Banff to go on?

Whether you’re looking for easy walking paths or moderate hiking trails, there are plenty of fun hikes you can do in and around Banff.

If you’re visiting Banff without a car, you can also get a hop-on and hop-off bus ticket that takes you to a bunch of hotspots in Banff.

Here are some of the best hikes to go on in and around Banff, Alberta!

Be sure to also follow me on Instagram and TikTok – I share a lot more content on those platforms that don’t make it to the blog!

Plan your Banff itinerary

If you’re planning a trip to Alberta, here are some other posts to help you plan your perfect trip:

Tours & activities in Banff

Looking for actual tours and activities to add to your Banff and Jasper itinerary? You might enjoy these ones:

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What to pack for your hikes in Banff


Hiking gear

I would highly recommend investing in a good-quality hiking daypack and hiking shoes or boots, as well as packing plenty of water bottles (we brought 4-6).

Adam and I both bought Osprey backpacks for this trip (known as one of the best daypack brands), and it’s one of the best investments we’ve made.

We were able to carry plenty on our backs without any back pain at all, and the webbed nylon and foam back helped air our backs out and kept them from getting too sweaty.

I have the Tempest 20L and Adam has the Talon 22L, which are the female and male versions of the same backpack, and even come in different sizes depending on your height.

I’ve had the Columbia Newton Hiking Boots since my Arizona/Utah trip in 2018, and they’re amazing for hiking in.

I personally prefer hiking boots over shoes – they provide more support, especially if you tend to twist your ankle a lot like I do!

Bear safety gear

When you’re hiking in the Canadian Rockies, you absolutely need bear spray, and possibly a bear bell.

There are plenty of bears in Banff, and you’ll want to have bear spray on you in case you run into an aggressive one on a trail.

You’ll have to buy them while in Alberta as you can’t bring them onto planes, and they cost around $40-$50 each.

We bought a 2-for-1 pack at Canadian Tire for $83.99, which you can order for in-store pickup.

If you just want one, you can get the same brand in a one-pack at Canadian Tire for $54.99.

Oh, and make sure the safety is always clipped on, because I may or may not have accidentally sprayed Adam by accident…

It’s argued that bear bells aren’t actually useful, but I’m happy to have them if they do anything at all, and they only cost a couple of bucks.


Best easy hikes in Banff


Lake Louise

If you’re in the mood for a simple and short hike, there’s a lovely walking path that goes along the side of Lake Louise.

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You can either turn back once you reach the start of the Plain of the Six Glaciers trail, or you can keep going if you’re feeling a more moderate hike!

You can walk along the path year-round, and it’s lovely any time of year!

Lake Louise is one of the few places in Banff with paid parking, and it’s $11.70 CAD for the day.

LOCATION: 111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 4.5 km
  • Elevation gain: 108 m
  • Parking: $11.70 day parking at Lake Louise
  • Washrooms: at Lake Louise
  • Pets: permitted with leash
Lake Louise, Alberta

Bridal Veil Falls & Panther Falls

This pair of waterfalls is sort of just a stop right off the highway, and it didn’t seem super popular when we arrived.

You can actually see Bridal Veil Falls from the parking lot, while you’ll have to go on the trail to see Panther Falls.

You can walk right up to Panther Falls, which we really enjoyed, especially since it was so hot out that day.

We even caught a rainbow at the base of it!

I’m not sure if you can walk close to Bridal Veil Falls, but we decided to just enjoy it from afar.

We noticed many people driving up to the car park and leaving after snapping photos – they probably didn’t even realize they could hike down to see the waterfalls!

I think it took us about 30 to 45 minutes roundtrip to hike over to Panther Falls.

The trail is kind of narrow and goes downhill for a lot of the way, so I probably wouldn’t do this on a rainy day!

LOCATION: Banff, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 1.3 km
  • Elevation gain: 75 m
  • Parking: free
  • Washrooms: none
  • Pets: permitted
Bridal Veil Falls in Banff, Alberta
The view of Bridal Veil Falls from the car park.
Panther Falls in Banff, Alberta

Consolation Lakes

The Consolation Lakes trail actually starts at Moraine Lake, which is one of the most popular spots to visit in Banff during the summer.

While it’s not the most epic hike in Banff, it was a very nice and relaxing hike, and we really enjoyed it.

The end of the trail leads you to a clear lake surrounded by large rocks, so you can plop yourself down and enjoy a post-hike treat with some views.

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Be super careful while walking on the rocks, because I actually twisted my ankle here!

Expect to spend around 2-3 hours on the trail.

LOCATION: 622 Moraine Lake Rd, Field, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 6.1 km
  • Elevation gain: 250 m
  • Parking: free
  • Washrooms: outhouses
  • Pets: permitted with leash
Consolation Lakes hiking trail in Banff, Alberta
Be careful while walking on the rocks.
Consolation Lakes hiking trail in Banff, Alberta
Consolation Lakes hiking trail in Banff, Alberta
Look how clear the water is!
Consolation Lakes hiking trail in Banff, Alberta

Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon is an extremely popular hike in Banff, and you’ll see plenty of families and kids on the trail.

It’s relatively easy (with lots of inclines) and very safe, with plenty of fencing along the trail.

You’ll get to see both the Lower Falls and Upper Falls, with plenty of gorgeous views along the canyon.

Some parts of the trail are extremely narrow though, which makes it kinda difficult to social distance if you’re nervous about that!

Once you get to the Upper Falls, you have the option of turning back, or making your way over to the Ink Pots.

Please remember to exercise caution and keep yourself safe on any hikes you do – any accidents can happen!

LOCATION: Bow Valley Pkwy, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 5.1 km
  • Elevation gain: 262 m
  • Parking: free
  • Washrooms: outhouses
  • Pets: permitted with leash
Johnston Canyon in Banff, Alberta
Beautiful Johnston Canyon.
Johnston Canyon waterfall in Banff, Alberta
The Lower Falls at Johnston Canyon.
Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon in Banff, Alberta
The Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon.

Best moderate hikes in Banff


Ink Pots

It’s a tough uphill ride from the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots, and since it was our first hike of the entire trip, we had a pretty difficult time.

I’d say it’s probably the most difficult hike I’ve done in Banff because of all the inclines.

It takes about 2.5 to 4 hours roundtrip for the average person to do both Johnston Canyon and Ink Pots, and it took us around 3.5 hours, including stopping for photos.

We actually had no idea what we were in for when we reached the end of the Ink Pots trail, and it was well worth the hike.

There are 5 cold water mineral spring pools here, each coloured in different shades of blue and green (I believe due to the algae)!

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After a long and treacherous hike, we spent quite a bit of time here enjoying the views and dipping our toes in the river next door.

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 11.7 km
  • Elevation gain: 608 m
  • Parking: free
  • Washrooms: outhouses
  • Pets: permitted with leash
Johnston Canyon & Ink Pots hike in Banff, Alberta
A lot of the hike to the Ink Pots is forested.
Ink Pots hiking trail in Banff, Alberta
Wildflowers on the Ink Pots hike in Banff, Alberta
We were lucky to visit during wildflower season in Banff!
Wildflowers on the Ink Pots hike in Banff, Alberta
Ink Pots hiking trail in Banff, Alberta
Ink Pots mineral springs in Banff, Alberta
Dat reflection tho.
Ink Pots mineral springs in Banff, Alberta

Plain of the Six Glaciers

The Plain of the Six Glaciers starts at Lake Louise, so you can make use of the $11.70 day parking fee and explore both in the same day.

The trail connects to the path that lines Lake Louise, so you get to enjoy walking along it before starting your adventure.

It took us about 2 hours to get just to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse, where we had lunch and where most people turn back from.

Be sure to bring cash, as they charge $4 extra if you use credit card (because they don’t have electricity).

You can hike another hour to get to the glacier viewpoint, which is very windy and somewhat dangerous (think climbing along the side of a narrow mountain trail while people are trying to pass from the opposite direction).

It’s definitely something I never plan on doing again in my life, but it was pretty epic to see in person.

While the Plain of the Six Glaciers was a tough hike, we definitely found the Ink Pots hike more difficult due to the inclines.

It takes people 4-6 hours on average, and it took us 4.5 hours with just hiking and 5.5 hours with our stop at the teahouse.

I’ve got a blog post all about the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike, including what to bring and tips for hiking the trail!

LOCATION: 111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 14.6 km
  • Elevation gain: 588 m
  • Parking: $11.70 day parking at Lake Louise
  • Washrooms: at Lake Louise & outhouses at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse
  • Pets: permitted with leash
Lake Louise, Alberta
Lake Louise from the side.
Plain of the Six Glaciers hiking trail in Lake Louise, Alberta
Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse in Lake Louise, Alberta
The front of the teahouse.
Lunch at the Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse in Lake Louise, Alberta
Our lunch of Italian Soup, PB&J, Chocolate Mousse, and Lemonade!
Plain of the Six Glaciers Teahouse in Lake Louise, Alberta
Chillin’ on the second floor patio.
Plain of the Six Glaciers hiking trail in Lake Louise, Alberta
You can see the narrow path on the right side where people are walking along.
Plain of the Six Glaciers hike in Banff, Alberta
Plain of the Six Glaciers hike in Banff, Alberta
Glacier viewpoint at the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike in Lake Louise, Alberta
The glacier viewpoint at the end of the trail.

Best difficult hikes in Banff


The Big Beehive Trail

We didn’t get a chance to hike the Big Beehive because we planned on doing it right after the Plain of the Six Glaciers hike.

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We were pretty dead by the end of the Plain of the Six Glaciers, so there was no way in heck we were going to do another long hike…

Anyway, the Big Beehive Trail leads you to incredible views of Lake Louise and it also starts at Lake Louise!

It’s called the Big Beehive because it resembles a beehive, and there’s actually a Little Beehive nearby.

LOCATION: 111 Lake Louise Dr, Lake Louise, AB

QUICK FACTS:

  • Trails: 10.9 km
  • Elevation gain: 776 m
  • Parking: $11.70 day parking at Lake Louise
  • Washrooms: at Lake Louise
  • Pets: permitted with leash

Best hikes in Banff:

  1. Lake Louise
  2. Bridal Veil Falls & Panther Falls
  3. Consolation Lakes
  4. Johnston Canyon
  5. Ink Pots
  6. Plain of the Six Glaciers
  7. The Big Beehive Trail

These were some of the best hikes in Banff to do!

Have you done any hikes in Banff National Park? Let me know on Twitter or Instagram!

If you’re planning a trip to Alberta, here are some other posts to help you plan your perfect trip:

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Jessica Lam | Toronto lifestyle, fashion, beauty, and travel blogger | Diary of a Toronto Girl, a Canadian lifestyle blog