Banff Canada has some of the most incredible hiking trails in the world. I was shocked by the beauty and scenery in my own country that I had never explored before. If you are looking to explore Canada’s wild scenery and nature, look no further. The views are incredible even driving on the highway leading to Banff village.
One thing I loved about Banff is that you don’t have to embark on an extremely challenging trek to see some unreal views. With many easy Banff hikes to do in the area, I have compiled my top 8 Easy Banff Hikes that you can explore at your leisure. And in case you missed it, check out my 5 Day Banff Itinerary.
On my recent trip to Banff with my sister, we initially set out with some pretty high hiking expectations. We had planned various challenging hikes and set out on day one to hike Larch Valley and Sentinal Pass. It’s a difficult 13km hike from Morraine Lake leading up to snowy Sentinal Pass with some steep switchbacks and gorgeous views along the way.
Unfortunately at the half-way point of the hike, my sister had a freak accident and got her foot stuck between a rock and ice. After some mountainside first aid involving some gauze, duct tape, a t-shirt tourniquet and borrowed hiking poles, my sister managed to limp 6.5km back downhill. See my post 6 Mistakes to Avoid in Banff so you can be better prepared than we were!
Following a quick trip to the Banff ER for 6 stitches in her ankle, we weren’t sure if she would be able to even walk the next day. Our amazing hiking itinerary quickly went down the drain. Or so we thought!
With my sisters injury, we had to do some quick re-organizing of our trip. As a result, we planned a combination of easy hikes, scenic drives and leisurely activities for a few days until her ankle recovered. Even though we didn’t complete all the treks we wanted to, I feel like we didn’t miss anything. In fact, some of my favourites hikes were the “easy” ones.
If you are looking for some incredible, scenic, easy hikes in Banff- look no further! This hiking guide is perfect for families or for those looking for a laid-back hiking experience without sacrificing some amazing views.
Top 8 Easy Banff Hikes
1) Morraine Lake Rock Pile
The Morraine Lake Rock Pile is an easy trail that is the perfect way to start your Banff trip! You will see incredible views of turquoise blue Morraine Lake from the rock pile which is easy to access from the parking lot.
Be prepared to wake up early to grab a parking spot and see these views! I recommend getting to the parking lot before 6am or else you may be out of luck. Keep in mind that Morraine Lake is about a 1hr drive from Banff village. Waking up at the crack of dawn while on vacation might not be ideal but trust me it’s worth the views!
I love this Moraine Lake hike, as it is a great route for families and those who aren’t experienced hikers. Experienced hikers should add this hike to their itinerary and grab an iconic view of the Lake from the top of the rock pile.
To start this hike, make your way through the parking lot to Moraine Lake. Before you get to the lake, to the left is a trail that goes behind the large rock pile. You can either climb up the rocks to reach the top or follow the safer route along a well-maintained trail behind the rock pile. This trail has steps leading up to the top of the rock pile. You will see spectacular views of Morraine Lake and of the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
You can then descend the rock pile and hike along Morraine Lake where you will have views of beautiful Mount Fay and Fay Glacier. Renting a canoe is another option.
This easy hike along Morraine Lake offers breathtaking views of some of Canada’s best scenery.
2) Sulfur Mountain Lookout
If you are looking for spectacular views without the climbing difficulty, make sure to visit the Sulfur Mountain lookout via the Banff Gondola. The Banff Gondola takes you over 2200 m of elevation with views of Bow River, Banff, and six mountain ranges.
At the top of the gondola you can visit the main observation deck and continue on the Sulfur Mountain trail to reach the peak observation tower. Sulfur Mountain can be hiked from the bottom of the Gondola, but if you are looking for some views with minimal walking, I recommend taking the Gondola to the top and hiking the rest.
The trail consists of a wide boardwalk offering 360 degree views in all directions. There are lots of benches to stop for a rest or for photos. You may even see some mountain goats at the top of the Gondola!
3) Wapta Falls (Yoho National Park)
The next 3 easy hikes are not in Banff, but very close by at Yoho National Park in BC. Yoho National Park has many easy hiking trails that provide stunning views of waterfalls, lakes, valleys and mountain peaks. The drive is about a 1 hr 20 min drive from Banff and even the highway drive up is beautiful.
I highly recommend visiting Yoho National Park during your trip to Banff. The next 3 easy hikes I’m including in Yoho National Park can all be completed in one day trip if you are feeling ambitious!
First up is an easy 5km out and back hike to beautiful Wapta Falls. This trail is suitable to hikers of all levels and for families with children who are not in strollers. You access the road to the trailhead directly from the highway. The trail can get muddy but when I was there it was perfectly dry. Pack good shoes just in case.
The hike to the falls is amazing and the Wapta falls are spectacular! They are a majestic and commanding presence at the end of the trail. You can hike right up to the base of the falls and get sprayed by the mist. It’s the perfect hike for a hot day!
4) Emerald Lake Loop (Yoho National Park)
While visiting Yoho National Park near Banff, make sure to visit Emerald Lake. This lake rivals the beauty of Morraine Lake and Lake Louise, except with less tourists and more parking spots! You can tell where Emerald Lake gets it’s name because the water literally sparkles like an emerald gem.
From the Emerald Lake parking lot there is a 5km flat loop trail which offers scenic views of the lake. It’s the perfect spot to have lunch along the beautiful glimmering Lake with views of the mountains.
If you’re not in the mood for hiking, you can also rent a canoe on Emerald Lake at about half the cost of renting a canoe on Lake Louise.
5) Takakkaw Falls (Yoho National Park)
Takakkaw Falls definitely lives up to it’s Cree name “it’s magnificent.” Located in Yoho National Park just outside the small town of Field, make sure to visit these falls during your visit. The Takakkaw falls are an impressive 1260ft high, making them some of the highest waterfalls in Canada.
To access the falls, you will have to take a winding, switchback road by car. From the parking lot, the falls are easily accessed for anyone including wheelchairs and strollers. There is a small bridge leading to the falls via a 1.3 km trail. It’s a great spot to take photos, have a bite to eat, and enjoy the amazing power and beauty of the falls.
Tip: Make sure to stop for an ice cream cone (with non-dairy options) at Truffle Pigs Lodge in the quaint town of Field on your way back from the falls!
6) Lake Louise Lakeshore
You really can’t visit Banff without stopping by to see the iconic Lake Louise. The landscape is unforgettable and there are various trails around the Lake for all skill levels.
The town of Lake Louise is about a 45min drive from Banff. The parking lot can become full so make sure you arrive early, ideally before 8am.
From the Lake Louise parking lot, head down to the lake front to grab a picture of the picturesque lake. Continue along the Lake Louise Lakefront Trail for a 4.7 km out and back easy hike along a paved trail.
The hike offers beautiful views of the lake, mountains, and wildflowers. From there, if you are feeling up for it, you can also add on other hikes, such as Little Beehive and Lake Agnes.
Stop by the famous Chateau Lake Louise for a drink or bite to eat. I recommend sitting outside on the patio and taking in the unforgettable views of the Lake.
7) Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk Trail (Canmore)
If you plan on visiting nearby Canmore town (about a 30min drive from Banff) make sure to check out the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk for an easy going stroll. Policemans Creek Boardwalk is approximately 4km out and back trail which is suitable for all skill levels.
The loop goes along the boardwalk trail, then along a beautiful river path and ending with a stroll through Canmore town. It the perfect hike to start or to end your day. There are many places to stop to relax and take in the scenic views.
Stop in Canmore for some shopping, dinner or drinks afterwards.
8) Bow River Trail (Canmore)
Bow River is a 3.7km easy loop near Canmore. This trail is suitable for families and all skill levels. It’s a nice walk along the scenic Bow River with forested trails and plenty of spots to stop and rest along the way.
The trail is close to the highway so you do hear some road traffic. However the views of the mountains are amazing and this trail is perfect for a beginners hike.
Have you visited Banff? Do you have any easy hikes to add to this list? Let us know in the comments below!