C-Level Cirque, Banff

trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

Elevation gain: 455 m (1,500 ft)
Maximum elevation: 1920 m (6,300 ft)

I’d wild camped the previous night, rushing to the first discrete spot I could find when thunder and lightning started.


Hanging food in this kind of forest isn’t easy. This time I bent a small tree to the ground. Let it spring back to vertical with my bear bag in place.


Next morning I loaded up the panniers and headed for the trailhead. That had been my first night ever bike camping. 🙂

My goal was C-Level Cirque on nearby Cascade Mountain. One of the most popular day hikes out of Banff.

Looked like new snow had arrived the previous night.


The trail begins its ascent through a pleasantly varied forest of lodgepole pine, aspen and spruce, where calypso orchids, blue clematis and many colourful violets bloom in early summer.

Within a half-hour you reach two skeletal buildings, the remnants of an anthracite coal operation that flourished in the area from 1904 to 1922. A town of nearly 1,000 inhabitants called Bankhead was spread across the valley where the trail begins, and these old buildings were a part of the “C Level” operation—the highest coal seams worked within the eastern slope of Cascade Mountain. …

Banff – C Level Cirque


By the time I reached the first viewpoint, it was snowing. Rather than continue, I opted to turn back here.


I did see some fresh bear scat on the way down.

related – Hiking with Barry trip report on a sunny day

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