Our guides know the best ways to explore Banff and the surrounding area, both inside and out of our small group buses.
So it serves as no surprise, that the best way to hike Banff is with our Discover Banff Tours, small guided groups. We’ll start with an overview of our best hikes near Banff which are in Kootenay National Park, then list our best hikes in Banff – all of which can be done with a group or privately, include hotel pickup, and an alpine picnic lunch. Lastly, we’ll mention a hiking option we bet you didn’t even know existed.
Hikes Nearby Banff National Park
We run a number of hikes in Kootenay National Park on Sundays – these routes are on our ‘easy’ list and so long as you bring good footwear and layers, you’ll be fine. These Sunday hikes include three shorter hikes trails to places such as Vista Lake, Marble Canyon, Numa Falls, the Paint Pots and Fireweed Loops. With little elevation gain, this is the perfect option for first-time hikers and families! Kootenay truly is an undiscovered neighbouring park that’s worth a visit.
One of our favourite hikes in Kootenay National Park though, is Stanley Glacier, which runs on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Few day hikes get your closer to a glacier on a moderate route than this one. This place is rich in ecological diversity and history. Why? Well, it fell victim to a forest fire in 1968. The evidence is seen everywhere, and the regrowth is an educational wonder. Our guides will explain the importance of forest fires and you’ll see for yourself how nature sustains itself by using this element. Not to worry though, the green has come back, and the jaw-dropping Rocky Mountain views are as epic as ever before. Thinned out trees actually make it more scenic as you can see much more compared to being in a dense forest.
Hikes in Banff National Park
Venturing out for hikes in Banff National Park? We’ve selected from what we believe are the best day hikes in Banff, packaged them up with our knowledgeable guiding services and a picnic packed lunch, and have them waiting to welcome your boots aboard.
Plain of Six Glaciers and Larch Valley are two hikes to remember. The Plain of Six Glaciers hike also comes with expected towering glaciers that feed into Lake Louise, as well as the (optional) reward of home-cooked baking and tea at the Plain of Six Glaciers tea house. This log cabin-like building is a former Canadian Pacific Railway cabin that used to be a halfway point for hikers on the way to the famous Abbot Pass Hut. Today, it still operates without electricity or running water but serves delicious food prepared daily on a propane stove.
While the hike already includes a delicious gourmet picnic lunch, we recommend bringing some cash with you to splurge on some cake for the full experience! Join us for this popular guided hike on Wednesdays and Fridays throughout the summer.
Our other top Banff hike is Larch Valley on Mondays and Saturdays. This hike and the Plain of Six Glacier hike have three things in common – birds-eye views of glacial lakes (Lake Louise with Plain of Six Glaciers and Moraine Lake with the Larch Valley hike), breathtaking Rocky Mountain surroundings, and glaciers galore.
Larch Valley is a three-season hike that brings out colourful wildflowers in late July, and golden larch trees in fall. Passing a few different lakes, this hike is in the shadows of the Valley of the Ten Peaks which are famed for their jagged peaks one after the other, complemented with glaciers and cascading waterfalls into Moraine Lake.
Private Guided Hikes
Have children under the age of 13 or just want a more personalised hiking experience? All of our group hikes are also available via private guided hiking tours with Discover Banff Tours – this even more intimate experience offers a chance to have a more tailored hike with just you, your family and/or friends, and a guide. Plus, our guides are equipped with bear spray and a first aid kit so there’s no need to worry about bringing your own!
Perhaps the most adventurous, authentic, and Instagram-worthy hike of all though, is our heli-hiking experience. This experience starts with hotel pick-up in Banff or at the base in Canmore where your mode of transport awaits. Climbing into the helicopter and lifting off to this exhilarating experience is incomparable to any hike out there. From here, we fly over Canmore and Cougar Creek to a remote location on Mount Charles Stewart. Real birds-eye views of the Rockies, maybe some mountain-dwelling wildlife, and panoramic scenery captivates the senses as your helicopter pilot points out facts and answers questions about what’s below.
After landing, you’ll have the choice between taking a leisurely stroll to views overlooking Lake Minnewanka in Banff National Park, or a more aggressive route. After 2 – 3 hours of interpretive hiking with your guide, the helicopter will pick you up from a different location and bring you back to the base in Canmore. This experience is undeniably our most authentic way to hike with Discover Banff Tours.