HomeTrue North Blog

Best Hikes in Canadian Rockies: Discover the Top Trails

The Canadian Rockies are a prime destination for hikers who want to explore pristine alpine landscapes. The Rockies offer a range of trails to accommodate hikers of all ability levels —  and the scenery includes everything from rushing rivers and mountain peaks to awe-inspiring canyons and ancient glaciers. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this mountain range is on the bucket list of every adventurist in North America and beyond.  

A group hiking at Sentinel Pass, one of the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies

The travel experts at Canadian Train Vacations can help you plan your trip to the Canadian Rockies, whether you want to explore extreme mountain peaks or enjoy a leisurely guided walk around a turquoise lake.  

The following guide is designed to help you find the best hikes in Canadian Rockies while offering useful tips that will streamline your itinerary. After all, while the beauty is in the journey, the planning is what gets you there.  

1. Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Louise 

The Plain of Six Glaciers is easily one of the 10 best hikes in the Canadian Rockies given it allows hikers to traverse through an elevated plateau that offers breathtaking views of six prominent glaciers within the Icefields. Open year-round, the 14.6 kilometres (9.1 miles) trail is considered moderately challenging and takes most hikers between four to five hours to complete.  

2. Mount Edith Cavell Meadows, Jasper National Park 

Favored by many as one of the top 10 hikes in Canadian Rockies, the Mount Edith Cavell Meadows trail is a circular trail that covers 8.5 kilometres (5 miles) and traverses a portion of the Cavell Glacier. It offers floral meadows straight out of a Disney film, towering cliffs, and breathtaking glaciers. For a shorter hike, you can walk along the Glacier Trail which is 1.6 kilometres return.  

3. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail, Lake Louise, Banff National Park 

The Lake Agnes Tea House Trail is considered a half-day hike that takes most hikers 2-4 hours to complete due to its mild elevation gain of 400 metres (1,300ft). The moderate trail is relatively smooth so you can wear your running shoes or hiking boots.

The trail circles through the spruce forest, across a horse trail, and continues upwards toward Mirror Lake where you have the unique privilege of seeing the "Big Beehive" rock face.  

4. Valley of the Five Lakes, Jasper National Park 

Beginners and those looking for the best short hikes in Canadian Rockies should check out the Valley of the Five Lakes trail in Jasper National Park. This looping trail covers about 4.8 kilometres (3 miles) and only takes an hour and a half to complete on average.

The family- and senior-friendly route passes five crystal blue lakes whose beauty is only matched by the crisp green spruces that are reflected in them.  

5. Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail, Banff National Park 

The Moraine Lake Shoreline Trail is another great hike in the Canadian Rockies. The 3.7-kilometre (2.3 miles) trail takes about an hour to complete and features an ending near the lodge that is perfect for mid-afternoon picnics. The trail is excellent for birdwatching and many locals use it for their daily run, which means that there are usually plenty of people around if you feel more comfortable in crowds.  

6. Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass, Banff National Park 

Known as one of the top 10 hikes in Canadian Rockies, the Larch Valley Trail up to Sentinel Pass offers amazing views. Hike past a sea of golden larches, but make sure to pause and look behind to see the ten peaks towering over you. While the Larch Valley Trail is also considered one of the best short hikes in Canadian Rockies at only 9.33 kilometres (5.8 miles), it's considered a moderate challenge due to its 544 meters (1,786 feet) ascent.

If you plan to make it to the top of the Sentinel Pass (and you should because the view is spectacular), you need to factor in another 2.41 kilometres (1.5 miles) which is roughly another hour of time. The good news is that Sentinel Pass is rated easy and offers you grand views over Paradise Valley. This hike is popular in the fall months.  

7. Sunshine Meadows, Banff National Park 

Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park is a fantastic experience in the Lake Louise area. Hikers first take the Standish Chairlift to an elevation of 2,400 metres (8,000 feet). The trail from the chairlift offers the chance to see three alpine lakes and gradually ascends along with spruce forests and several iconic mountain peaks. You can also enjoy breathtaking views without breaking a sweat from the Standish viewing deck.  

8. Consolation Lakes Trail, Banff National Park 

If you want to round out your visit with an easy hike that is still impressive enough to make the best hikes in Canadian Rockies list, check out the Consolation Lakes Trail in Banff National Park. This simple hike starts near Moraine Lake and takes one to three hours to complete.

You can enjoy open views of Lower Consolation Lake, before continuing along the trail to reach the Upper Lake.  

9. Johnston Canyon to Ink Pots 

Most people travel up the Johnston Canyon trail to see the five aquamarine-colored pools aptly referred to as the Ink Pots. Depending on the time of year you tackle this four-hour trail, the Ink Pots are a great spot for wading and enjoying a nice picnic.

While it's only 5.7 kilometres (3.5 miles) one way, it does feature an elevation gain of 330 metres (1,080 feet) which can be challenging for those who aren't normally active.  

10. Iceberg Lake Scramble, Banff National Park 

As the name implies, Iceberg Lake Scramble in Banff National Park is an amazing route for experienced hikers who know how to scramble and rock climb. It begins as a lakeshore trail that circles Iceberg Lake but quickly ascends 340 metres (1,120 feet).

Along the way, hikers must cross a natural bridge, drop downwards towards the drainage of Bow Hut, and then traverse a ledge that is narrow in places.  

11. Wilcox Pass, Jasper National Park 

Wilcox Pass is a great trail for seniors in reasonable shape who want to see the icefields of the Jasper National Park firsthand. On your way to the trailhead, you will drive along a portion of the iconic 232-kilometre (144 miles) Icefields Parkway. Often voted the most beautiful road in the world, the Parkway is full of photo stops.

Make sure you get out of the car to take pictures of the postcard-perfect Peyto Lake and the awe-inspiring Athabasca Glacier. Wilcox Pass trail is 9.8 kilometres (6 miles) and leads hikers through wildflower meadows, fir forests, and icefields before returning them to the bottom of the mountainside.  

12. Skyline Trail, Jasper National Park 

Considered one of the best multi-day hikes in Canadian Rockies, the Skyline Trail in Jasper National Park is a whopping 44 kilometres (27.3 miles) which makes it suitable for advanced hikers only.

However, if you dare to take on the challenge, it offers amazing treetop mountain views and wide sweeping panoramas that never get old. Its height means you'll pass through snow as you walk along Little Shovel Pass and look down over Maligne Lake. It usually takes two or three days to complete the Skyline Trail.  

13. Berg Lake Trail, Mount Robson Provincial Park 

Situated close to the Alberta border to the east of the Cariboo Mountains, the Berg Lake Trail is one of the best-hidden hikes in the Canadian Rockies. While the complete trail is 42 kilometres (26 miles) it can be broken into smaller intervals to meet the needs of every hiker.

Those who tackle the multi-day trail will have the privilege of viewing dozens of awe-inspiring waterfalls, glaciers, and turquoise lakes.  

14. Crypt Lake Trail, Waterton Lakes National Park 

Crypt Lake Trail is a challenging 19-kilometre (11.7 miles) trail that loops around Upper Waterton Park. Hikers should be aware that there is a charge to enter the Waterton Lakes National Park and the trailhead can only be reached by ferry.  

15. Parker Ridge Trail, Icefields Parkway 

Parker Ridge Trail is without a doubt one of the 10 best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. It’s a moderate hike with some challenging sections and plenty of spectacular views. The 5-kilometre (3 miles) walk takes you up to a treeless tundra and allows you to look down over a meadow of wildflowers with the Saskatchewan Glacier in the background.  

16. Iceline Trail, Yoho National Park 

The Iceline Trail is a 20-kilometre (12 miles) that can be shortened into a 14-kilometre (9 miles) hike for those who want to see the awe and wonder of the waterfall without spending an entire day on the trail. Takakkaw Falls is without a doubt the highlight of this hike, but the alpine forests and glacier fields are a close second.  

17. Mount Fairview Summit, Banff National Park 

One of the best-hidden hikes in the Canadian Rockies is the Mount Fairview Summit trail in Banff National Park. Avoid the crowds at Lake Louise and try this steep hike up Fairview Mountain. There is an elevation gain of 1,000 metres.

You need to be in good shape to tackle this four to six-hour trail, so it is most suitable for advanced hikers. Along the way you can take in the stunning sights of Bow Valley, the peaks of Saddleback Mountain, and the endless greens of Paradise Valley.  

18. Sulphur Mountain, Banff National Park 

Sulphur Mountain is a wooded trail that can be hiked year-round although micro-spikes are suggested during the winter months. The moderate trail takes three to six hours to complete based on your fitness level and will take you towards the shaded base of Sulphur Mountain before breaking away into the sunshine of the meadows.  

19. Helen Lake Trail, Banff National Park 

This 12-kilometre (7.2 miles) trail takes you above the meadow tree line and has an elevation gain of 455 metres. The majority of the trail stretches across the alpine meadows of Helen Lake, but as you climb up the switchbacks, stunning views of Cirque Peak and Dolomite Peak start to dominate the skyline.

The trail alternates between flat and rocky terrain so hiking boots are a must. Most hikers should be able to successfully complete this trail 4-5 hours.  

20. Opal Hills Loop, Jasper National Park 

If you ever dreamed of dancing at the foothills of mountains like the Von Trapp family, then the Open Hills Loop trail in Jasper National Park is for you. The 8-kilometre (5 miles) trail is near Maligne Lake and begins by taking you through open meadows and trees until you reach a beautiful viewpoint. The rest of the trail is steep and most suitable for moderate-to-advanced hikers. 

Planning Your Canadian Rockies Hiking Trip

Best Time to Visit the Canadian Rockies 

The Canadian Rockies are breathtaking year-round, but each season offers a different perspective that can offer hikers unique experiences. While summer is considered peak season due to the warmer temperatures that make walks and hikes in the Canadian Rockies very accessible, the winter months are ideal for snowshoeing, skiing, and ice skating.  

Essential Tips for Hiking in the Rockies 

  • Peak hiking season is from mid-June until October 
  • Temperatures vary throughout the day so dress in layers 
  • Starting hikes early will help you snag parking spots and offer you more time to enjoy your hike 
  • Choose trails that are suitable for your fitness level 
  • Remember to consider the elevation gain/loss of a trail 
  • Pick a trail that is suitable for your least experienced hiker 
  • Purchase your park pass in advance 
  • Bring plenty of water and some snacks 
  • Pack bug spray, bear spray, and a first aid kit 
  • Always hike in groups of 2 or more  

What to Wear While Hiking 

Temperatures can vary by 10 degrees or more within one day and across different elevations. If you are doing one of the best multi-day hikes in Canadian Rockies, you’ll need to check the weather for your entire trip. You should always dress in layers. Start with moisture-wicking materials and then add a layer of insulation followed by a rain/wind shell. If you are hiking during the winter months, you will need to bring warm gloves, hats, socks, and boots.  

Safety Considerations 

Even experienced hikers should never travel alone. Most hiking groups recommend that hikers travel in pairs or groups of threes. Bears are very common in the Canadian Rockies and ALL hikers should carry bear spray. During the summer months, proper sun protection is important as is bug repellent. Some of the best backpacking hikes in the Canadian Rockies can be easier with a local guide.  

Where to Stay in the Canadian Rockies 

There are many places to stay in the Canadian Rockies from the upscale, but rustic Emerald Lake Lodge to hidden gems like Buffalo Mountain Lodge in Banff. Other popular locations include Rimrock Resort, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise.   

Sleeping arrangements are also an important consideration if you plan on doing some of the best overnight hikes in Canadian Rockies.  

Reservation Systems 

Parks Canada is the main reservation website of the Rockies in Canada. All hikers must have a park pass (Parks Canada Discovery Pass or a day pass). 

Advantages of Guided Tours

Guided tours are the best way to learn where locals hike in the Canadian Rockies. Experienced tour guides can help you enjoy the best hikes in the Canadian Rockies. They know the landscape well and can provide insight into the area’s flora and fauna. Guided tours include gear suggestions and daily itineraries so you can focus on the experience. Plus, you will probably meet some great people! 

Conclusion

Hiking in the Canadian Rockies is for everyone as there are trails for all ages and fitness levels. You can admire mountain peaks, ancient glaciers, deep canyons, and turquoise lakes as you explore the different trails. The top 10 hikes in the Canadian Rockies feature some of the best scenery in the world.  

#1 Travel Tip: Teahouse treats

Quote IconQuote Icon

Enjoy a cup of tea and a slice of cake at the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse or the Lake Agnes Teahouse if you’re hiking these trails. You deserve a sweet treat before you start your descent!

Blog Author - Hannah Poaros-Mcdermott
Hannah Poaros-McDermott
Travel Writer and Senior Content Coordinator

#2 Travel Tip: Go with a guide

Quote IconQuote Icon

If you’re not sure about hiking on your own through the mountains, then a small-group or private tour might be for you. Guided hikes often include packed lunches, transportation from your hotel, and the use of hiking poles, so it’s a comfortable and easy experience.

Katherine Foxcroft
Product Manager, Tours and Vacations

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Montreal jazz fest free?

No, the majority of events at the Montreal Jazz Festival are ticketed. While some outdoor shows and activities may be free, most performances, especially headliners and indoor concerts, require tickets.

How many people go to jazz fest every year?

Over 2 million people attend the Montreal Jazz Festival annually, making it one of the largest and most popular music festivals in the world.

How much does it cost to attend the Montreal Jazz Festival ?

Ticket prices vary based on the artist, venue, and type of performance. It's advisable to check the official festival website for detailed information on ticket prices and packages.

When is the Montreal Jazz Festival ?

The Montreal Jazz Festival typically takes place in late June to early July. For 2024, it is scheduled to take place from June 27th to July 6th.

About the author: Athena McKenzie is the Content Manager at Fresh Tracks Canada. An experienced lifestyle journalist, she has written about travel, design, arts and entertainment. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Zoomer Magazine, Elle Canada and... Read more

Discuss your Canadian train vacation with a local travel expert

Cartoon polar bear speaking on the phone

Or call us toll free

Cartoon polar bear speaking on the phone