7 Best Hikes in Banff National Park

LAKE AGNES TEAHOUSE

This hike starts at the front of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel (head to your right down the lakeshore pathway). Lake Agnes and the historic teahouse in the Lake Louise area is an easy and very popular paved hike through the forest. Ending with a cup of hot tea, a bowl of homemade soup, or even dessert. If hungry for more trail (difficulty=hard), continue 1 mi. around the far end of Lake Agnes and to the top of the Big Beehive for views of the Bow Valley and Lake Louise (see hike info below).

Distance: 4.5 mi. return trip
Elevation gain: 390 m (1279 ft)
Time required: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Easy

BIG BEEHIVE via LAKE AGNES

The view at the top of Big Beehive is worth the hike. There are not many people on the trail, so you can get fantastic pictures beating the crowds.

Once you hike around the lake, the trail starts a steep switchback. This stretch of the hike was challenging. Once to the top, views of Lake Louise and The Fairmont Chateau.

Distance:1.6 km One Way
Elevation:135 m Elevation Gain From Lake Agnes
Time required:
Difficulty: Hard

DEVILS THUMB via LAKE AGNES

The trailhead is located directly across from the trail to the Big Beehive lookout. The last portion of this trail involves steep scrambling (loose rocks and dirt), not be suitable for beginners. At some points, you are riding the ridge on very narrow trail. Proper hiking shoes are strongly recommended. The top is worth it. Views of Lake Agnes and Lake Louise, the colors of the lakes are best seen from here.

Distance: 7.4 miles
Elevation: 2,896 ft from Lake Agnes
Time required: unknown
Difficulty: Hard

PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS

A 9.1 mile out and back trail located near Lake Louise. A relatively easy hike, but will take up the entirety of the day. As you make your way up the trail towards the glaciers and Mount Victoria, stop for lunch or tea at the teahouse before your final push .5 miles.

Distance: 9.1 out and back
Elevation gain: 1,929 ft
Time required: 4-6 hours
Difficulty: Easy

SENTINEL PASS via LARCH VALLEY TRAIL

Start this hike early. When parking at Moraine Lake, the lot fills up generally before the sun comes up during peak season. My favorite hike that isn’t considered ‘backcountry’. Considered moderate, and would recommend to anyone that wants a fun challenge. Switchbackinng at the beginning and the end makes for a rewarding trip. With views of Valley of the Ten Peaks, enjoy lunch on the pass and look for climbers on the Grand Sentinel.

Distance: 6.8 mi out and back
Elevation gain: 2,598 ft
Time required: 4-5 hours
Difficulty: Moderate

JOHNSTON CANYON TO INK POTS

As of July 2020, the road leading to the trailhead is still closed due to COVID-19.

A heavily trafficked trail. Recommend going at sunset or early in the morning. Can turn around at any point. No technical skills needed, paved trail. Great hike for those who don’t want to blow their legs out and still enjoy some forest trails and waterfalls. Never made it to inkpots. Read more on this post for secret spot (the reason we went) Guide to Banff.

Distance: 7.3 mi (from the parking area)
Elevation: 1,994 ft
Difficulty: Easy
Time: Unknown

ICEFIELD PARKWAY AREA – BOW SUMMIT LOOKOUT

Highway 93 is considered Icefields Parkway. One of the most scenic drives in all of Banff in my mind. A drive you must do. End of story. Plenty of places to stop and trails to lookouts. Keep an eye out for wildlife and pull-offs. One of the highlights of our trip.

Bonus: LAKE O’HARA ALPINE CIRCUIT

My favorite hikes (we also did some backcountry hiking here to Abbot Hut Pass, one of the most memorable hiking experiences of my life). More to come on this.

Please note this is a very small percentage (very, very small) of the beautiful hikes in Banff National Park, ranging in all difficulty levels. For the best reference please visit AllTrails to explore more options.

Sending yall love. Wish I was currently planning a Banff trip, ask me anytime, anywhere.