Best Laidback Hikes, Banff National Park

By Lukas Saville:

The rugged terrain of the Canadian Rockies might seem a little imposing at first glance, but once you do a bit of research and immerse yourself in this breathtaking landscape filled with jagged peaks, crystal clear lakes, and sprawling forests, you’ll find that it is fairly accessible for most outdoor enthusiasts. 

With its charming village and easy access to a wide variety of hiking routes, there is no better place to begin exploring the Rockies than in Banff National Park. Whether you are new to hiking and want to take in the natural beauty of the mountains for the first time, or are a seasoned outdoorsman looking to kick back with your grandkids on a relaxing adventure, there is no doubt that you will be able to find a hiking trail in Banff that will perfectly suit your needs. 

With that in mind, I’ve put together a great little list of the best laidback hikes in Banff National Park that will certainly make for an amazing day outdoors, no matter your age or skill level. Just don’t forget to pick up your Parks Canada Pass before setting out on your adventure!

6 Best Laidback Hikes 

  1. Moraine Lake Hike – Distance: 3.4km | Elevation: 38m | Time: 0.5-1h

This breathtaking hike will expose you to some quintessential Rocky Mountain views for a minimal amount of required effort. Gorgeous mountain peaks and the glittering surface of Moraine Lake make this an absolute must-hike if you are in the area.

Suitable for all ages and skill levels, you will need to time your hike to avoid the crowds, as the large volumes of visitors and limited parking can be a bit frustrating. Even still, this is the perfect hike to take in the beauty of Alberta.

  1. Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike – Distance: 2.6km | Elevation: 80m | Time: 0.5-1h

Located along Icefields Parkway, the Peyto Lake Viewpoint Hike is a quick and easy adventure that should be on everyone’s list. 

Featuring two scenic viewpoints overlooking the pristine Peyto Lake and surrounding mountains, this is a great bang for your buck excursion that won’t take up too much of your time.

  1. Monarch Viewpoint Hike – Distance: 7.2km | Elevation: 175m | Time: 1.5-3h

Stunning meadow scenery and a fun gondola ride characterize this spectacular family-friendly adventure in Banff. The Standish Viewing Deck, Rock Isle Lake, and of course Monarch Viewpoint are all highlights of this 7.2km hike, making for an action-packed day on the trails.

Although kids will need to be able to ride a chairlift, the views on this hike are simply too good to avoid!

  1. Bow Lake Hike – Distance: 3.4km | Elevation: 2m | Time: 1-1.5h

Another short and scenic hiking route along the Icefields Parkway, the Bow Lake Hike is a great option that the entire family will love. Spend some time strolling by the water’s edge, taking in the breathtaking views of the mountain terrain that encompasses the shimmering waters of Bow Lake.

The trail here is flat, well-maintained, and easy to navigate, making it perfectly suited for young children and the elderly.

  1. Johnston Canyon Hike – Distance: 6.3km | Elevation: 122m | Time: 2-3h

While busy, the Johnston Canyon Hike is an amazing hiking trail that will lead you through a scenic canyon landscape to a picturesque series of waterfalls. Families and those less-inclined to traverse more rugged terrain can simply stop at the lower falls; however, you can also continue on to the upper falls, which are more impressive.

Due to the popularity of this route in the peak season, you will need to plan on starting your hike before 8AM to avoid the crowds. Additionally, the path can be slippery, so parents should always travel with children, keeping them close through wet areas.

  1. Lake Agnes Tea House Hike – Distance: 7.5km | Elevation: 353m | Time: 2-4h

Last – but certainly not least – is the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike, which is an incredible adventure in Lake Louise. Featuring some of the most splendid views in all of Banff National Park, the Lake Agnes Tea House is the perfect excursion for families, as everyone can get out for some exercise and enjoy some amazing scenery – with a delicious hot chocolate of course!

This route isn’t limited to families, so head up solo or with your friends and hike some of the connecting trails that explore this beautifully scenic landscape.

Other ways to explore the Rockies

After you’ve fully exhausted this list of trails – which shouldn’t take too long – you might be wondering how you can continue unlocking all of the wonders that Banff and the surrounding Rocky Mountains have to offer. 

There are plenty of different solutions that can help you take your outdoor exploration to the next level, starting with booking an unforgettable adventure tour in the Canadian Rockies. For anyone who isn’t a keen planner, booking a tour can be a great way to experience some of the most pristine mountain landscapes in the world, all with the help of experienced professionals who know the area inside and out. 

On the other end of the spectrum, if you are comfortable enough to hit the trails on your own or with a few friends, then a good GPS app – such as the 10Adventures Trail App – is a great option that will enable you to tackle the outdoors at your own pace. Featuring detailed route descriptions, maps, and the ability to track your activity, a trail app can go a long way in helping to keep you safe and on the right path!

No matter what direction you end up choosing, the Rocky Mountains – and Banff National Park in particular – are full of some amazingly scenic and laidback hiking trails, making it the ideal place to begin exploring the natural beauty that Canada has to offer.

Hiking the Indian Himalaya Independently

It’s easy to hike Nepal independently.

Not so India.

I did Markha Valley independently.  But for Kuari Pass I finally signed on with a guided trek.

The hiking infrastructure in India is not well developed.  Getting to and from trailheads often a headache.  Next time I go to India I’ll likely sign on for trips guided by IndiaHikes.

One bit of good news.

Peter Van Geit has been creating detailed hiking maps of the Indian Himalaya.

So far, he has pulled together over 1,000 trails across Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir.

It shows 600 passes, 700 high-altitude lakes and more than 10,000 reference points. …

It allows hikers to see elevation profiles and download GPS logs onto their phones rather than having to carry multiple, less detailed paper maps.

“The map has more trails than anyone could ever cover in a lifetime,” he says.

“It took me months to plan a long traverse across the Himalaya. With this new digital map, you have all the information in a single place.” …

Everything is open sourced, so can be accessed with any Open Street Maps viewer or mobile app (for free). Other hikers can add information to it and help the resource grow. …

ExplorersWeb

Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD battery

Though I’m now bikepacking with solar, to be SURE I’ve got enough juice to get my devices through a weekend hike I’ve also purchased the Anker PowerCore+ 26800 PD with 30W.

This is the largest portable battery currently allowed for airline carry-on baggage.

26800mAh of power charges most phones over 7 times, tablets at least 2 times or notebooks at least once.

There are two parts: battery and USB-C wall charger.

Charging devices from a wall socket (including the battery) is claimed to be up to 3x faster.

On longer cycling trips when I’m carrying a laptop, this unit IS powerful enough to recharge a MacBook Pro. That will help me keep up-to-date with photos, video and trip reports.

GUEST POSTS on BestHike.com

By site editor Rick McCharles

Every week I decline requests for sponsored posts. Those are mostly advertisements that look like a regular post.

But we do post guest articles.

So, if you’d like to summit something to this site, here are our guidelines for submissions:

What Content Do We Want?

  • Information of interest to independent hikers.
  • Things that are NEW. DIFFERENT. ORIGINAL.
  • Insider information not available elsewhere.
  • Hikes in parts of the world not well covered on the internet now: Africa, China, Russia, etc.
  • Technology / Apps being used by hikers

The more succinct, the better. But include visuals: graphics, photos, videos.

Send an email to RickMcCharles (a) gmail.

Include the following:

Your hiking history. Any links you’d like included.

If your post is simply to sell some hiking gear, it’s not likely it will be posted on this site.

There’s no payment or remuneration of any kind. This site now runs ad free.

Getúlio Felipe climbs Marmolada

Getúlio Felipe is a 14-year old kid born with cerebral palsy. That didn’t stop him climbing the highest mountain in the Italian Dolomites 3,343 m (10,968 ft).

… At the age of four, he was advised to start using a wheelchair, which he refused. He told the world he was going to learn to walk.
Age 5, nothing. Age 6, nothing.

Age 7, Getulio took his first steps. This in itself was an achievement no one saw possible, but in his own words, “the impossible does not exist”.

His sheer determination has inspired people around the world, giving people hope when they had lost it. …

… climbing Marmolada involves crossing a glacier with huge crevasses and then a steep climb requiring ropes, crampons, and ice axes. Just to add to the difficulty, there was a deep snowpack …

The day a boy became a man and inspired the world

Accompanying Getúlio on this journey were Pedro McCardell, creator of Lyfx, an app that conects travelers to local guides, Alessio Nardellotto, an experienced climber from the Dolomites, Alberto Benchimol and Stefano Fabris, who worked as a separate support team for safety and image capture.

Palm Springs to Paradise Cafe – day 5

Trip report by BestHike editor Rick McCharles

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Tent sites don’t get much better than this.

Another gorgeous night. No fly. And my broken tent held up for the night on the ridge.

It was windy.

My gear got sooty from the 2013 forest fire burn.

It’s a stark and beautiful landscape.

I LOVE this section of the trail. Every step gorgeous.

Inspired, I left a Summit Stone for a PCT hiker to discover.

I was in a philosophical mood. In camp I was listening to an audio book about a man who lived alone for a year in Patagonia exploring the effects of deep solitude.

Here I left the State Park and entered San Jacinto Wilderness.

A father and son recommended a campsite where they had stayed the previous night. I found it using two popular PCT apps.

That’s Guthook. A paid app that most PCT hikers use.

I also used the free (no longer updated) Halfmile PCT app.

Though hidden from the trail, GPS found the place oft used by rock climbers. I was pleased to find a camp chair and large tarp for keeping my gear clean.

Day 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

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