Banff Hiking picture1 of 3
Banff Hiking2 of 3
Marko Stavric Photography/Getty Images

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Hiking, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.0scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 1.5Facilities
  • 5.0Atmosphere

Though Banff is perhaps best known for its stellar slopes (it's considered one of the world's best ski destinations), its hiking trails are just as impressive – and free to access. No matter which trail you choose to tackle (there are a variety of options for all skill levels), you'll likely stumble upon indigo-tinted waters, fields of wildflowers and stunning alpine vistas.

Aside from Sunshine Meadows (found in Sunshine Village), travelers also recommend the Parker Ridge Trail, which you'll find in the Icefields Parkway Area of the national park. Though visitors do warn that the climb up this trail can be steep, they also gush about the views of the Saskatchewan Glacier seen at the peak.

Another must-visit spot for recent travelers: Tunnel Mountain. This peak, which the First Nations people refer to as the "Sleeping Buffalo," offers 360-degree views of Banff Town, the Bow River and the westward mountains, such as Mount Bourgeau. You'll find the trailhead on St. Julien Road near The Banff Centre.

Though it's located about 9 miles north of town, Lake Minnewanka is often described by visitors as the highlight of their trip to Banff National Park. You'll have to drive to reach the glacial lake, but once you get here, you can hike or picnic along its shores as you take in breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains that surround it.

If you feel more comfortable following a guide, the Banff & Lake Louise Tourism office recommends several companies on its website. For more information on the area's trails, including their distance, elevations and starting locations, visit the Parks Canada website. Keep in mind: Prime hiking season runs from July through mid-September. Even in June, there is an avalanche risk at some passes. Access to the trails is free.

See all Hotels in Banff »

More Best Things To Do in Banff

Sunshine Village1 of 14
Banff Gondola2 of 14
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Sunshine Village

Located miles 11 miles west of Banff Town, Sunshine Village offers 12 lifts, more than 3,300 skiable acres and a peak elevation of 7,200 feet. And thanks to its location straddling the Continental Divide, Sunshine sees more snow than its neighbors, meaning the ski season here is long – typically from early November to late May. The powdery terrain beckons skiers of all levels (another point of praise from recent travelers), and the Sunshine Mountain Lodge offers a great setting for dinner and drinks after a day on the slopes. 

If you're not in Banff for ski season, you should still make a point to visit Sunshine, according to reviewers. From mid-June to early autumn, the Sunshine Meadows are open for hiking and provide visitors spectacular alpine views of the surrounding peaks, including Mount Assiniboine. Hiking is free and so is the shuttle from town, which runs from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Read more
Steven Olmstead Photography/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Banff »

Explore More of Banff

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

30 Amazing Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019

The 6 Best Maui Helicopter Tours

Combine sightseeing with a breathtaking adventure on one of these flights.

Gwen PratesiJuly 23, 2019

The 7 Best San Francisco Boat Tours

Take in the city's major sights by water with one of these excursions.

Holly JohnsonJuly 22, 2019

How to Pack a Suitcase: 16 Tips and Expert Tricks for Perfectly Packed Luggage

Take the stress out of vacation prep with these handy recommendations.

Lyn MettlerJuly 22, 2019