Looking for the best easy hikes in Banff that still offer gorgeous views? We’ve got you covered!
Not everyone has the time or the willingness to grind to the summit of a mountain, climb 20 kilometers in a single day, or crawl on their hands and knees over steep scree. Is it possible to take a leisurely walk in Banff while on vacation? What are the most accessible hikes in Banff National Park?
Banff National Park is world-famous for its beautiful alpine scenery. In Banff, the rugged mountain scenery offers many challenging hikes, but there are also a plethora of easy, more leisurely hikes to enjoy. In fact, Banff National Park’s most incredible hikes are often the easiest ones.
During the spring, snow and glacial ice from the mountains around Banff melt, creating stunning alpine lakes with a gorgeous blue-green hue. You won’t believe the shades you see on a bright day. Many of the most significant Banff hikes are along the beaches of its many gorgeous lakes.
Melting ice also generates other spots for some of Banff’s most incredible easy hikes. It’s a great way to see the mountains without climbing them: taking a walk down the bottom of a canyon or a valley. Taking a simple stroll around the foot of the mountains gives you a feel for the enormous magnitude of Banff’s mountains.
For the most part, individuals of all levels can complete the dozens of great trails we consider to be “easy.” You may not find every Banff hike on this list simple, but we’re sure you’ll find one or more!
Without further ado: the best hikes in Banff that are super easy but offer gorgeous views!
20. Boom Lake Trail
6.7 miles | 1,877 Feet Elevation Gain | 3 hours and 31 minutes to complete
The Boom Lake Trail is one of the most incredible moderately simple day hikes in Banff National Park. The path has a slight elevation climb at the start but is primarily level and well-marked as a woodland trail.
The road is excellent in the summer, and the hike to Boom Lake is well worth it. Albertans love this hike since it is simple for families and users seeking a calm day with a big reward at the finish.
The route and Boom Lake are occasionally surrounded by enormous boulders, providing beautiful areas to relax and enjoy the landscape. There are typically loons singing, the fish leaping, and eagles feasting on fish when people are here, adding to the actual Rocky Mountain nature experience.
This excellent route is often revisited. Regardless of the season, the path is always crowded. Throughout the warm seasons, bear warning signs are displayed, so visitors should proceed with caution.
The route and lakefront may be a little buggy, so bring insect and bear spray. If people can walk to the lake, here is where they should pause for breaks and stops to appreciate the beautiful views. During the summer, fishing license holders can catch fish in the lake.
Even in the winter, the lake and mountains are beautiful to see. The snow-covered trees create a winter scene. Walking off the compacted area into three feet or more of snow is frequent; therefore, visitors should wear boots and spikes. Snowshoes would assist avoid this and exploring the lake.
This is one of our favorite easy hikes in Banff during all four seasons!
19. The Wilcox Viewpoint via Wilcox Pass
5.8 miles | 1,713 Feet Elevation Gain | 3 hours and 6 minutes to complete
The Wilcox Viewpoint via Wilcox Pass is a relatively easy trail with great views. Unless you’re fortunate enough to visit in August, the route is best conditioned and signposted towards the bottom.
We suggest breaking the trail into three pieces. Part one begins at the trailhead and ends with the red chairs, a Parks Canada icon. This segment is a gradual ascent to the ridge top seats through the forest. In part two, the red chairs take you to the Wilcox Pass, where you begin a gradual climb up into the meadow.
The last stretch to Wilcox Ridge is 1.4 kilometers long and has two lovely knolls. Because this section of the trail overlooks glaciers and tourist centers, it typically has some snow to traverse. Staying on the maintained track is also simple since you do not have to cross a significant river or bridge as in other portions.
The alpine meadows and the pass itself are pretty level. The peaks, knolls, and passes enhance the views of the glaciers and icefields over the parkway.
Animals, including bighorn sheep, elk, and bears, are regular sightings. Remaining at the route’s summit allows you to relax and enjoy a few more minor vistas. A handful of tiny streams at the point can be crossed without wet shoes, unless in the winter.
The heavy and soft snow makes this region challenging to finish in the winter. It is impossible to reach the peak without snowshoes due to heavy snow. We recommend bringing snow gear or returning in late July/early August.
Overall, this is one of the best hikes in Banff during the summer months if you want gorgeous scenery and animal sightings!
18. Consolation Lakes Trail
4.7 miles | 1,079 Feet Elevation Gain | 2 hours and 19 minutes to complete
The Consolation Lakes Trail starts at the Moraine Lake parking area. Shortly before the rock pile ascent, the trail leaves the Rockpile Trail to the left. This 4.7-mile round-trip hike starts in a very rocky region with avalanche debris and snow heaps along the route in late spring – a good reminder of why this area is restricted in the winter!
The trail then enters the forest and continues for the rest of the hike on a pretty level path with occasional small uphill parts but minimal elevation gain.
It is relatively flat through the wooded stretch leading to the lakes, making it an easy hike for most people. However, the rocks and boulders might be loose, smooth, and huge once in the rock field. It is a highly slippery place with plenty of crevices between the stones. For this reason, hikers advise against transporting young children or pets across the rock field.
Many people like leaping into either of the two Consolation Lakes, accessible only by experienced hikers with rock piles and scrambles. The hike is impressive since you can see the glaciers from the rocky coast.
The lower region rock piles with views of Moraine Lake are often recommended as a pre-hike destination. There are beautiful vistas of nearby mountains, steep vertical cliffs, and prominent jagged peaks as the hike exits the forest. The Fay Glacier at the lake’s other end is similarly spectacular. We love being near the mountains and hearing tiny avalanches in the spring.
For a brief and simple hike, this hike was immensely gratifying. Because parking at Moraine Lake is restricted, visitors should come early, as parking fills up quickly after 7:30 a.m. on weekends. This is one of the best hikes in Banff if you’re an early riser!
17. Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos Trail
4.8 miles | 876 Feet Elevation Gain | 2 hours and 13 minutes to complete
This track is well-kept and relatively easy, making it one of the best super easy hikes in Banff with gorgeous views. The trail begins at the suggested parking spot near the Banff Fairmont Lookout, where there is usually only limited parking. When this parking lot is packed, many people advocate starting the hike from the Hoodoos Lookout end and working your way back.
Both “ends” of the route include high hills, after which you’ll drop into a valley, hike along the river, and then climb back up. Because the Hoodoos end is substantially steeper, this chart shows the ideal route at the halfway point. Plan to pause for photos and recover your breath, although this is a moderate hike.
There may be a lot of snowmelt in the spring, making the path muddy and hazardous. Ice cleats were beneficial going down the steep slopes, and some individuals will find poles useful.
Large species such as Elk and Bear are pretty abundant along this path, although elk will be there for most of the year.
Take a lengthy break and hike leisurely into the Hoodoos, where you’ll have plenty of opportunities for photographs and rest, resulting in a one-hour hike.
There are no restrooms accessible in the parking spots, so be prepared. Banff offers many large public restrooms to use ahead of time.
16. Tunnel Mountain Trail
2.8 miles | 876 Feet Elevation Gain | 1 hour and 32 minutes to complete
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a short but delightful hike that leads to a beautiful perspective of Banff and the surroundings from the summit of the famed Tunnel Mountain.
It is a generally simple path that enables people to become used to trekking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, whether they are new hikers or expert hikers. Hikers with families like the overlooks, signs, and broad paths for spending time with family and friends, while runners enjoy the swift climb and challenge.
The trail starts on Banff’s Tunnel Mountain Drive. It winds through the forest on lengthy, well-graded switchbacks along the mountainside. Some of the switchbacks are steeper than others, while others level off, allowing you to catch your breath and take in the breathtaking views of downtown Banff.
The views are visible through the trees throughout the trail, but the most fabulous views are at the mountain’s summit towards the conclusion. Some exposed rocks surrounded by forest are ideal spots for sitting and admiring the views of Banff and the neighboring mountains and valleys. Glacial lakes, Sulphur Mountain, and Mount Rundle are visible from the crest, making it stunning.
This is one of the best easy hikes in Banff if it’s your first time hiking in the region.
15. Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail
2.8 miles | 354 Feet Elevation Gain | 1 hour and 11 minutes to complete
The Lake Louise Lakefront Trail is a short but famous stroll along the lakefront of one of Canada’s most renowned lakes. The lake trip starts in the crowded parking lot close to Fairmont Lake Louise.
You can canoe in the summer or go out into the lake in the winter. Many paths go into the mountains and higher up on the north side of the lake, so expect crowds unless you come early.
As the walk meanders around the lake, guests will appreciate the varied viewpoints. Many people love this path, from families with small children to elderly hikers who prefer the gentler terrain to trail runners who zip past.
This trail has various vistas and benches where you can watch animals, scenic views, and indigenous flora. There are a few access places to the lake along the route, but remember to carry rubbish back to the main area.
Hikers can wade into the lake during the summer and capture beautiful shots of the lake sediment. Snowboarding and glacier viewing are popular winter activities here since this is the trail’s closest point to the glaciers and mountains. You can use the same path back to the parking lot. Enjoy the vistas this way, for the views on the way back are entirely different.
The route becomes steeper after the lake, and it may be slippery or treacherous in the winter. Some parts of the path could be muddy. There are accessible parking spaces and restrooms at the trailhead.
If you’re looking for Banff hikes that are really more like a long walk, this is definitely your place!
14. Hector Lake Trail
2.8 miles | 351 Feet Elevation Gain | 1 hour and 11 minutes to complete
This is a reasonably easy trail to hike in any season, and it’s a great short day hike for anyone searching for a wilderness retreat with views of the Rockies and lakes.
The trail follows the banks of a big, glacier-fed lake in the Bow Valley, passing by a lake, a river, and even a significant river fjord. It is an excellent stop on the journey through the Banff-Yoho-Jasper corridor, with the trailhead immediately west of the Icefields Parkway, approximately 18 kilometers north of the Trans-Canada Highway junction in Banff National Park.
Because the water levels of the lake and marshy sections dictate how strenuous this hike will be, it might alter in quality from year to year. We advise bringing excellent waterproof hiking clothing in the summer since the lake can be extremely high and obstruct the trail.
It is also feasible to camp at many locations along this path. However, check the weather forecast since most terrain is flat and can become flooded during storms.
Many visitors choose to come here for a snowshoe or cross-country ski loop in the winter. The trail is utilized extensively during winter hiking and is usually compacted and simple to follow to the lake.
If you exited the packed trail, anticipate snow up to your knees; expect thick snow if you’re not on cross-country skis or snowshoes!
13. Fairview Lookout
11.5 miles | 548 Feet Elevation Gain | 52 minutes to complete
This Banff hike to Fairview Lookout, one of the top lookouts in Lake Louise, is a terrific way to get started hiking in the area. The track is not challenging, although it does include some mild elevation gain and is short but steep. However, if you come prepared for a little bit of a struggle, it’s pretty doable, and the view is well worth being out of breath when you reach the top.
Even though the path is primarily paved or loose gravel, the snow melts in the spring and early summer, and there may be very few snow patches remaining along the way. You should always wear excellent hiking footwear. It is still only accessible from the parking lot rather than the lake, so be aware of the height if hiking from the lake, which is only doable in the winter.
Because the trail remains primarily in the woods until you reach the overlook, there aren’t many options for views at first, but you can continue beyond the lookout and down closer to the beach for some spectacular vistas.
Even in the winter, this location is worth exploring since the paths surrounding the lake are highly popular. It’s a well-known favorite among Banff hiking regulars. The snow is usually compacted, but it can become slick heading down, so we recommend spikes if you have them.
12. Johnson Lake
1.9 miles | 230 Feet Elevation Gain | 48 minutes to complete
Johnson Lake is a fantastic swim and picnic spot located on the Minnewanka road circle, a beautiful breezy ride with breathtaking views of abundant foliage, wild scenery, and a glacial lake.
The lake is a lovely expanse of calm water nestled amid some of Alberta’s oldest fir trees. Johnson Lake has Banff’s only beach, although being more petite than adjacent to Lake Minnewanka. You must hike the Johnson Lake trail to appreciate the ecosystem’s variety.
The Banff hiking trail has minimal elevation rise with plenty of delights. The lake trail is gorgeous and reasonably level. The views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle are spectacular from here. The circular route starts at the parking lot and proceeds to the beautiful lake.
If you proceed counterclockwise, you’ll come to a bit of bridge that spans a beautiful brook that flows down a steep canyon to the water tower. The woodland trail is fun to get fresh air while walking under trees and plants.
If you hike the trail counterclockwise, you’ll get a great perspective of Cascade Mountain. You may also view animals throughout the year and purple calypso orchids in May. As you climb the trail, you’ll see a rope swing tucked amid the woods and an old abandoned home belonging to Billy Carver, who lived here for roughly 27 years starting in 1910.
11. Bow Falls Viewpoint
1.7 miles | 217 Feet Elevation Gain | 43 minutes to complete
Bow Falls Viewpoint is one of the most basic hikes in Banff, and it’s more of a walk than a hike. The trail follows the Bow River from the Banff Canoe Club’s boat launch, through town, across the river, and down to Bow Falls. Alternatively, you can remain on the north side of the river and walk until you reach Surprise Corner, where you can join the Hoodoos Trail.
Most visitors begin at the road or pedestrian bridge and go south along the river. This path will take you down to the base of Bow Falls, where you can join the Golf Course loop.
The Bow River Trail is a pleasant, quiet walk around the outskirts of town that may be as long or short as you wish! Apart from a bit of hill, you must walk over as you reach Bow Falls; there is very little elevation change. It is relatively simple, except in the winter when it can be exceedingly slick and dangerous.
The elevation gain seems to be 217 feet, but apart from the slope towards the end, we would regard this Banff hike to be almost flat.
10. Peyto Lake Panorama Overlook
1.5 miles | 276 Feet Elevation Gain | 42 minutes to complete
Peyto Lake Trail is a short Banff hike that gives picturesque views of Peyto Lake in Alberta, close to the British Columbia border. Peyto Lake is a beautiful turquoise lake fed by Peyto Glacier. It is a terrific hike for the whole family. The picturesque Peyto Lake Overlook is accessible from the Icefields Parkway, north of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
Peyto Lake is located in Yoho and Jasper National Parks. You can see Bow Lake, the glacier, Peyto Lake, and the Canadian Rockies.
Peyto Lake is one of the most popular summer destinations in the Rockies. In the summer, it is advisable to arrive early in the morning. Peyto Lake is a magnificent, pure, and vibrantly colored lake along the Icefields Parkway. We suggest visiting early in the morning to avoid the crowds that will spend most of the time around noon here.
A short paved walk leads to the wooden observation platform, which offers spectacular views of the lake. It is a 10-15 minute uphill hike to the overlook, which is steep due to the height rise.
The neighboring mountains and pine trees complement the hues of Peyto Lake. We appreciate the vistas and snap photographs from this famous overlook every season.
9. Silverton Falls
1.1 miles | 367 Feet Elevation Gain | 37 minutes to complete
Silverton Falls is a short yet enjoyable climb that leads to a beautiful cascade.
It’s a hidden treasure and lesser-known spectacular waterfall situated about 10 minutes along the Bow Valley Parkway from Johnston Canyon. The journey to the waterfall is just 0.7 kilometers long, and it begins on the same trail that goes to Rockbound Lake but branches off to the right at the fork.
The trail begins by passing through the forest on level ground, then rises over switchbacks to a tiny spot viewing this stunning multi-tiered waterfall. The track was narrow in places as it skirted a cliff. This location also offers spectacular views of the deep wooded valley and distant mountain range. This big waterfall is lovely to shoot and appreciate.
This hike is for you if you want to get away from the crowds and see a stunning waterfall and rewarding vistas for a fair bit of work on a short trail. It’s conveniently situated along the same route as Johnston Canyon, so if you’re already in the area, you should undoubtedly stop here on your way to or from Johnston Canyon.
Though this is one of the lesser-known easy hikes in Banff, it’s one of our absolute favorites in the summer!
8. Cascade Falls
0.8 miles | 472 Feet Elevation Gain | 35 minutes to complete
This 0.8-mile hike is a terrific opportunity to get some exercise while experiencing the tremendous force of the 300-meter Cascade Falls. You’ll be able to hike up the mountain and stand by the breathtaking waterfall. Follow the broad gravel walk across the grassy meadow from the parking area. It is a relatively straightforward approach. This path will lead you to the foot of the Cascade Mountains. On your course, you’ll get a fantastic view of the falls.
Continue on the route into the woods, passing an avalanche warning sign. The trail gets highly steep, swiftly gaining height but not for long. You’ll travel past old avalanche debris and downed trees as the trees begin to clear. Before reaching a rocky region with several trails, the track will constrict. Select a well-defined route that will get you to the waterfall’s base.
While taking in the flowing water of Cascade Falls, take in views of Mount Rundle across the valley. After a relaxing stop at the falls, return the way you came.
7. Mistaya Canyon
1.1 miles | 259 Feet Elevation Gain | 33 minutes to complete
Mistaya Canyon is a famous and picturesque path in Banff National Park. It’s 5 kilometers south of North Saskatchewan. A short walk from the parking lot takes you to a wooden bridge across the Mistaya River, from which you can see the steep canyon.
It’s a stunning natural beauty with flowing water, rock formations, and several waterfalls. It is surrounded by breathtaking views, ideal for a picture opportunity. You can stroll along the river and cross the bridge to get different perspectives of the canyon.
The hike to the bridge goes downhill and back upwards, but it is easy and not too demanding. No particular shoes are necessary but wear something solid (we don’t recommend flip-flops).
Winter/spring visitors to Mistaya Canyon should be aware that the route is frequently coated in thick ice from the snow melting and freezing. Visitors should bring ice cleats or microspikes for more outstanding grip.
6. Fenlands Trail
6.3 miles | 180 Feet Elevation Gain | 30 minutes to complete
The Fenland Trail is a short and straightforward day hike located near Banff. You’ll see elk and other animals in abundance here.
Mount Norquay Road leads to the trailhead. It’s a peaceful and beautiful stroll through the forest and by a little brook on a level looping trail. Along the journey, you’ll get some great views of the Canadian Rockies through the woods, and there will be lots of birds and small creatures to see.
The trail is similarly broad and well-kept, and if you want a somewhat longer, easy hike, you can proceed on the flat tracks to Vermillion Lakes.
Bears are often observed here due to their proximity to the lakes, and the trail is closed numerous times each year.
Although this trail is near urban areas, the thick trees and stumps along the river and water make bears easy to see if you are not prepared to hike in a group. Having bear spray on hand is also a good idea.
If you’re visiting Banff in the winter, this is a lovely short cross-country ski or snowshoe loop.
5. Panther Falls
0.8 miles | 246 Feet Elevation Gain | 26 minutes to complete
Panther Falls is a short and simple hike to a beautiful waterfall on the Icefalls Parkway. It’s a well-kept secret waterfall that you’d probably drive by many times without noticing!
There are many stunning vistas of the river, Panther Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls along the trail, following a few switchbacks against a few rock cliffs. It’s short and sweet, but it’s stunning.
This hike is also enjoyable in the winter, and if you are close to and behind the falls, snowshoeing or wearing ice cleats is a terrific way to make it a fun excursion. Bring ice spikes and a helmet if you intend on exploring it in the winter.
4. Athabasca Glacier
0.9 miles | 200 Feet Elevation Gain | 26 minutes to complete
The Athabasca Glacier is one of Canada’s most recognized frozen beauties and one of the simplest glaciers for anybody to view. It is a pretty cool location, with many tourist attractions packed into a bit of space, and it’s effortless to reach, owing to the station being just off the Icefields Parkway.
Although there are paid choices to get onto the glacier on the safest days, most visitors prefer this free short hike to just watch the glacier from afar.
The trail is usually simple to follow; however, the region is rocky, but mainly in pebbles or huge stones easy to walk on.
The hike begins with a long steep ascent to approach the Columbia Icefields region, which may be difficult for some, particularly when the area is crowded between June and September.
Most of the year, after you’ve ascended the hill, it’s pretty windy and chilly, so wearing weather protection and even sunglasses might help keep you safe from the elements.
With lots of place markers to illustrate how far the glacier has receded, this is a terrific opportunity to observe the wonder of nature’s most prominent glaciers and how people have influenced the environment.
3. Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station
0.7 miles | 115 Feet Elevation Gain | 19 minutes to complete
This renowned vantage point provides spectacular views of Banff and the surrounding region. It is a must-try if you’re just in the neighborhood for a short period.
Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station trail is primarily paved and woodland boardwalk paths that begin at the top of the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, which is usually a lovely spot to spend a beautiful summer day visiting the region.
This trail is popular with families since it is short but offers some of the most excellent views in the region along the ridge walks on Sulphur Mountain’s north side. The forested boardwalks will be pretty snowy and ice throughout the winter. Therefore, this region is only safe to visit during the summer.
It’s preferable to visit on a clear day since this mountain is usually above the cloudlines, obscuring views.
2. Lower Bankhead Trail
0.7 miles | 115 Feet Elevation Gain | 19 minutes to complete
Bankhead, Alberta, was a thriving coal-mining town of almost 1,000 people located close to the operations site of an anthracite coal mine in the early 1900s.
When the Bankhead Banff coal mine closed in 1922, several of the residential structures in Bankhead, Alberta, were relocated or destroyed. This unusual hike still has a surprising quantity of coal mining facilities.
This route provides hikers with an excellent opportunity to stretch their legs or rest in nature. The actual trail around Bankhead Site is charming, and it has many historical facts. The views are breathtaking, with more than 360-degree panoramas all around you. Hikers can continue along the trail till Cascade Ponds, where they can turn around and return.
The very informative signs and photographs of Bankhead Townsite and its crucial role in the region’s development will greatly interest new and returning hikers.
1. Moraine Lake Viewpoint
0.5 miles | 33 Feet Elevation Gain | 12 minutes to complete
The Moraine Lake Viewpoint is a short trail that leads to the famed Moraine Lake. It is pretty popular and constantly used. The path is straightforward, measuring less than one kilometer in length, and brings people to the summit of a genuine rock pile through steps carved into the rocks.
From many viewpoint sites near the summit, there are stunning views of the glacial-blue Moraine Lake. There are also several seats where you can relax and take in the scenery, so there is always plenty of room to stretch out in the morning.
Arriving early for the dawn is the best option. Summer mornings are popular with photographers because they may appreciate the flat and reflecting Moraine Lake, especially when the turquoise water is so vivid and magnificent that the sun starts to peep over the lake bordered by ten peaks.
You can ride the Roam Transit from Banff to Moraine Lake for a more pleasant and stress-free experience since parking at Moraine Lake often fills up by 5:00 a.m. MT during the summer.
In addition to this stroll, people suggest performing one of the treks that start from the lake while visiting Moraine Lake. Eiffel Lake and Larch Valley are two fantastic, somewhat difficult walks that begin at the same trailhead and follow the lake’s coastline before splitting off in various directions. Both feature breathtaking views of the ten-peak valley. During the larch season, Larch Valley is spectacular. Another short and simple hike that starts from Moraine Lake is Consolation Lakes.