Hiking in Banff
Guest Post and Photo by Amy Perry Basseches
I just returned from a fantastic week in the Canadian Rockies with my husband Josh. At ActiveTravels, we often have members wanting the inside scoop for planning an itinerary to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. Josh and I are hikers who like a comfortable bed and excellent food after a day of mountains, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on.
In Banff, we stayed at The Moose Hotel & Suites, Banff Lodging Company’s new 4-star hotel property featuring 174 air-conditioned guests rooms (AC is not common here, but it’s a nice add-on) and a rooftop pool and hot tub. Early in your stay, stroll over to the Banff Visitor Centre (224 Banff Avenue, which is on the super busy and crowded main drag). It’s open 9 am-5 pm year-round, with extended hours in the summer. We picked up trail maps for both the Banff and the Lake Louise areas, and received great recommendations for hikes to suit our preference by talking to the knowledgeable Parks Canada staff.
To get energized for those Banff hikes, head to Tooloulou’s for breakfast. It’s a local hotspot, and there’s often a well-deserved wait. If you give up, next door, Coyote’s, offers a good breakfast as well. We sampled both! After your hikes, reward yourself with a brew and a view at these fun bars: The Maclab Bistro at the Banff Center for Arts and Creativity and the Rundle Lounge at the Banff Springs Hotel. The hotel is a Rocky Mountain Classic built by the Canadian railroads in the 1880s. Definitely worth seeing!
In terms of hikes, I highly recommend the two we did. Visit the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where the 1883 discovery of a cave full of hot mineral spring waters helped create Canada’s first national park (the site also features an interesting exhibit on internment of Canadian residents during World War I, who then built the Park’s infrastructure). From here, hike up to Sundance Canyon (3 hours round-trip). It was not too crowded, and we had stellar views. The climb starts with a paved trail and soon opens up to a mountain panorama across the Bow River. The next day, for a longer venture, we braved the hordes at Johnston Canyon just outside of town (toward Lake Louise) because we wanted to hike up to the Ink Pots (4 hours round-trip), which requires going past Lower Falls and Upper Falls. You eventually reach an open meadow where warm water bubbles up from deep below the Earth’s surface.
Please contact ActiveTravels for assistance with Banff. We’re happy to help! On to Lake Louise tomorrow.