If you’re looking for a perfect vacation filled with a whole lot of hiking and good food then you came to the right place. Banff is the ultimate vacation that will get you moving and seeing natural sites you’ll think back on for years to come. Keep reading to find out where to hike, eat, and stay. (P.S. these photos are from October 2021)
Hiking: Don’t Forget Your Boots
When it comes to exploring Banff… did you really go if you didn’t hike? That is why I have you covered with a long list of hikes. Take this list with a grain of salt because some hikes may be easy for some and harder for others. Regardless, all the hikes mentioned on this list are definitely worth it.
Johnston Canyon – Upper and Lower Falls
- Hike Distance: 3.5
- Time: 1-1.5 hours
- Elevation: 860 feet
- Level: Easy
This adorable hike will get you moving and grooving before you take on some of the bigger hikes later on. You’ll go up a steady pace on a path that scales rocks in order to see some incredible waterfalls. There are two big falls that most people go to – Upper Falls and Lower Falls. When you walk the trail, you’ll see Lower Falls first and get to go through a cave to see the opening. If you keep going, you’ll not only see prettier views but you’ll end up at Upper Falls. I loved this hike more than I thought I was going to.
- Hike Distance: Unknown (around 12 miles)
- Time: 6 hours
- Elevation: Unknown
- Level: Easy
Now this one is a wee confusing to some because it isn’t really supposed to be a hike. Since Moraine Lake was closed by the time we visited, Andrew and I decided to walk to the lake and see what would happen. It’s a long walk. It ended up being multiple miles and a scary walk in the dark. If you’re going to do this, make sure you aren’t dumb like us and go early in the morning. We were bugging out in the dark with headlamps strap to our foreheads and singing to make sure animals heard us… memorable but not necessary.
Tip: Depending on when you go, you can just drive to the lake instead of hiking all the way there. Once you drive there you can walk around the lake.
Teahouse via Plain of Six Glaciers
- Hike Distance: 12 Miles
- Time: 7 hours
- Elevation: 3,231 feet
- Level: Difficult
This is where things start getting interesting. After the flat, easy walk around Lake Louise, you’ll start climbing your way up to the Plain of Six Glaciers. This hike has a little bit of scrambling once you get closer to the lookout, but boy is it worth it. As you can see from the middle photo below, you’re really scaling the tops of the mountains on this trail.
On the way to the peak (or even on your way back), you’ll be able to stop at the Plain of Six Glaciers Treehouse. The treehouse is normally open throughout the summer and closes on Canada’s Thanksgiving. Unfortunately, this means it was closed when we visited but that didn’t stop us from climbing up and having some of our packed snacks. If you want to see the Treehouse make sure you go before Canada’s Thanksgiving!
Note: Don’t forget to look back at Lake Louise! The water will continue to get brighter!
- Hike Distance: 7 miles
- Time: 4 hours
- Elevation Gain: 2,525 feet
- Level: Hard
Once you reach the Plain of Six Glaciers peak, you’ll turn back to then go up the Big Beehive. While we were making our way over, an older couple warned us that they spotted a grizzly bear a couple hundred meters in front of the direction we were going. Reluctantly, Andrew and I continued on until we kept seeing people turn back. We started to hike that way with a solo hiker named Evan. When we started to see that we were walking deep into the forest, we decided to go a different path. When you’re hiking unfamiliar territory, it is always best to listen to your gut.
In my opinion, this part was the best view of the trip. I definitely started feeling the altitude difference here and felt my knees start to shake, but it was all worth it to see the view of the blue water. These photos really do not do it justice (so you’ll just have to go yourself)!
Lake Louise Loop
- Hike Distance: 3 miles
- Time: 1-1.5 hours
- Elevation Gain: 354 feet
- Level: Easy
This beautiful loop around Lake Louise will leave you speechless. The entire walk around the Lake you’ll see the famous icy, blue water and instantly feel at peace. You can use this hike as a starter before you do the Big Beehive and/or the Plain of Six Glaciers or you can do it on your own. Dealer’s choice!
Note: this is where people typically take their “iconic” Instagram photos.
- Hike Distance: .5 miles
- Time: 15 mintes
- Elevation: 275 feet
- Level: Easy
Peyto lake had been closed for the past two years, but the viewing deck reopened a couple of weeks before we arrived. Eager to see the icy, blue water, Andrew and I hopped in the car and headed over to do the quick “hike”. The hike itself is an extremely easy half-a-mile that spits you out at this incredible viewing deck. This view was absolutely incredible and a must when you’re in the area. It is the perfect stop to add if you’re on your way to Jasper or if you just need something between big hiking days.
Hint: you can actually get photos without the fence if you jump below the deck. That is what Andrew and I ended up doing to get some of the photos below.
- Hike Distance: 4 miles
- Time: 2.5 Hours
- Elevation: 2,300 feet
- Level: Easy to Moderate
If you’re looking to do a beautiful hike with an easy way out, this one is for you. We decided to hike up and take the gondola down but you can do in reverse or hike both ways. We loved hiking up the mountain to not only appreciate the views more but to get a workout in. During the hike you’ll see the gondola above you and see better views of t
Where to Eat
- Park Distillery: Incredible burgers and perfectly salted fries? Count me in. Since I’m a huge gin fan, I was happy to stop by Park Distillery as they distill their own gin. They have a long list of cocktails named after the hikes around Banff, but I highly recommend you try Cascade.
- Three Bears: I’ll be dreaming of these steak lettuce wraps until I they come into my life again. Also, watch out Chick-fil-a there is a sandwich in Canada that is really trying to put you out of business (and they’re doing a fine job)
- BeaverTails: If you still need something sweet after dinner (I mean… you’re hiking so much you might as well) definitely get a Beavertail. Don’t tell anyone but I think we had two or three during the few days we were in Canada.
- Balkan: Need something a little bit healthier than everything else I’ve listed? Make sure you stop at the Balkan and get some amazing Greek food. We ate here after our biggest hike and we couldn’t stop eating.
- Mount Fairview Dining Room: Bacon in Canada is something that the heavens dreamed up. I would go back to the Dining Room just to have another slice. If you’re looking for a good breakfast, definitely don’t sleep on this place.
- Cows: Mama warned me about how dangerously good Cows Ice Cream is. If you’re looking for a scoop of creamy ice cream this is the stop for you.
- Fairmont: Okay, to be honest, I was a little delirious by the time I ate this steak sandwich. Andrew and I had just hiked a million miles in the cold and it was around 11pm. This beautiful steak may have brought my soul back into my body… the jury still doesn’t know the verdict. Oh, and the drinks are comparable to the delicious ones you can find in New York City.
Where to Stay
- Fairmont (Banff): you need to stay at either Fairmont at least once. They views from this place are extremely worth it. Plus, we were able to catch the northern lights.
- Fairmont (Lake Louise)
- Deer Lodge: Amazing food and quaint, cabin like aesthetic.
- Moose Lodge: Definitely our favorite spot. They have a giant, roof hot tub with amazing views of the mountain.
Other Posts You Make Like:
- Banff Adventures: Johnston Canyon and Moraine Lake (Day One)
- Banff Adventures: Plain of Six Glaciers and Big Beehive Loop (Day Two)
- Banff Adventures: Peyto Lake and Banff (Day Three)
- Banff Adventures: Sulphur Mountain (Day Four)
Banff Travel Vlog