BANFF NATIONAL PARK IS ONE OF THE MOST VISITED SPOTS IN ALL OF CANADA AND THERE’S NO QUESTION WHY. HOME TO ICONIC PLACES LIKE LAKE LOUISE, JOHNSTON CANYON, AND MORAINE LAKE, BANFF has countless hiking trails that offer PHENOMENAL scenery.
So you’re planning a trip to Banff? We are SO excited for you! It is one of our favourite places on the planet and we can’t wait to show you around. In this blog post, we are going to share 9 of the most beautiful easy hikes in Banff and why we think you’ll love them, too.
There are infinite hiking trails scattered throughout this magnificent park in the Canadian Rockies. This list highlights the best of the best with trails leading to turquoise lakes, powerful waterfalls, and stunning viewpoints.
How to Get to These Easy Hikes in Banff
If possible, we highly recommend having a vehicle for your time in Banff National Park. While you can get around with public transportation, having your own vehicle will give you more flexibility and allow you to visit off-the-beaten-path places.
Another great option is hiring a guide and our favourite tour operator in the area is Big Nature. They offer small group and private tours in Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks with pickups in Calgary, Banff, Canmore, and Lake Louise. For 10% off all tour options, use the code MADETOEXPLORE10.
As far as accommodation goes in Banff, you have 3 options. You can choose to stay at a hotel or hostel, an Airbnb, or a campground. Hotels in Banff are known to be incredibly expensive, but a few budget options and hostels are available.
Airbnbs are limited, however, you can find a few in the townsite if you book well in advance. When it comes to camping, there are several reservable and first-come-first-served sites throughout the park. This is our favourite method, and the most budget-friendly!
When to Visit Banff
Banff is a popular year-round destination known for hiking, biking, climbing, skiing, ice climbing and skating. If you are here specifically for hiking, you will want to come in the summer or early fall.
It shocks many people that in the alpine areas, many of the trails are still partially covered with snow and ice in June! Mid-June to mid-September is our recommended window to ensure you can visit all these spectacular places.
Now that we’ve got the housekeeping items out of the way, let’s get into the good stuff! Here are 9 incredible easy hikes in Banff you can’t miss this summer!
EASY: 5 KILOMETRES & 236 m OF ELEVATION GAIN
Johnston Canyon is easily one of the most popular day hikes in Banff National Park, but in our opinion, it’s so worth braving the crowds for! The paved trail is fairly mild and suitable for all skill levels. Open year-round, this hike boasts wonderful views of the turquoise river, a catwalk through the canyon, and multiple waterfalls along the way.
TIP: Heavy traffic starts around 9am. Make sure to get there beforehand if you want a quieter hike.
If you’re up for it, we would highly recommend continuing from the Upper Falls to the Ink Pots. The path turns to dirt and you lose 75% of the crowds immediately. The Ink Pots are several bubbling pools of green-coloured mineral springs located in a stunning mountain meadow. To get to the Ink Pots the total hike is 11.9km & 600m.
EASY: 2.4 KILOMETRES & 99 M OF ELEVATION GAIN
Peyto is one of our favourite easy hikes in Banff, so much so that we actually named our campervan after it! This unique mountain lake is known for its colour and the fact that it is shaped like a wolf’s head.
The trail to the viewpoint is an easy 15-minute walk from the parking lot. Although very convenient, this also means that heavy traffic will frequent the area each day. Last year the entire viewpoint was expanded, allowing tons more space to spread out and enjoy the scenery.
LOCAL SECRET: Want to ditch the crowds? We’ve got you! Once you’ve seen Peyto from the viewpoint, jump in your car and drive north for 2-3 minutes. You will soon see a small unmarked parking lot on your left, pull in there. Following the trail for about 2 kilometres will take you right to the shore of the lake! We hiked in on a Saturday with a SUP and had the entire place to ourselves.
Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail
easy: 4.5 kilometres & 108 m of elevation
Lake Louise is an iconic hamlet in Banff National Park known for its turquoise, glacier-fed lake. The surrounding mountains and Fairmont Chateau standing proudly on its shore make it an ever-popular tourist destination.
The trail along the lakeshore is beautiful and offers a great escape from the crowds of tourists that congregate near the hotel. If you would like to get out on the water after your hike, there is a canoe dock that offers rentals. I’ll warn you now, though, they are not cheap! If you have your own kayak, canoe or SUP, you can launch here for free.
easy-moderate: 7.4 KILOMETRES & 435 M OF ELEVATION GAIN
If you are up for a bit more of a challenge, we would highly recommend making the trek from Lake Louise up to Lake Agnes Teahouse for lunch! Although technically more of a moderate trail, it is worth the extra effort.
Lake Agnes is a small mountain lake accessible from the Lake Louise parking lot. The trail to get here is 3.7 kilometres each way with 435 m of elevation gain. Most famous for the teahouse where you can order a drink and a meal, this is a beautiful way to ditch the crowds at Lake Louise.
EASY: 1.8 KILOMETRES & 106 m OF elevation GAIN
Located at the base of Castle Mountain, this hidden gem is well worth the 1.8km round trip hike. The trail begins near Castle Junction at the Rockbound Lake Trailhead. It is reasonably flat for the first half with a few switchbacks near the end.
At first, the trail offers beautiful views of the valley and the forest before bringing you to the stunning double-tiered waterfall. If you’d like to do a longer hike, the main trail will also take you all the way up to Rockbound Lake.
Moraine Lake Rockpile & Shoreline Trail
4 kilometres & 50 m of elevation gain
Moraine Lake is one of the most photographed lakes in Canada and for good reason! The turquoise water and stunning mountain backdrop make this a perfect place to hang out for the day.
The Rockpile is located right near the parking lot and shows off the most photogenic view of the lake and towering peaks. The shoreline trail continues along the west side of the lake offering a chance to ditch the crowds and admire the turquoise water.
IMPORTANT: As of 2023, personal vehicles can no longer drive up to Moraine Lake. In order to access it, you will need to hike, take a shuttle or bike up the 11-kilometre road. Our favourite way to visit Moraine Lake is with Big Nature. You can use the code MADETOEXPLORE10 for 10% off all small group and private tours.
EASY: 1.3 KILOMETRES & 85 m OF elevation GAIN
Panther Falls is an underrated easy hike in Banff National Park. The short walk to the falls can be done in only 10-15 minutes and I guarantee that you will walk around that final corner of the trail in awe. We find Panther Falls to be incredibly serene because it feels like it’s facing its own untouched valley, hidden from the highway.
I know this is a summer hiking list, but I couldn’t help but include a winter photo. As you can see, it’s a stunning winter hike, too!
TIP: Take the far right from the parking lot for the safest route down to the falls.
Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk
easy: 1.2 kilometre & 39 m elevation gain
The Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk offers a unique opportunity to explore the peak of one of the most iconic mountains in Banff without actually hiking to the top. Taking you all the way to the top of Sulphur Mountain, the eight-minute ride on the Banff Gondola boasts incredible views the entire way. Although touristy, this is an enjoyable thing to do at least once while visiting Banff National Park.
At the top, there are restaurants, cafés, short hiking trails and an interpretive centre. From here, walk along the 0.6-kilometre boardwalk to see the Cosmic Ray Station. This historic site in Canada was built to study cosmic rays and offers unbeatable views!
Bow Lake to Bow Glacier Falls
EASY: 8.9kilometres & 282 m of elevation gain
Bow Lake, located on the Icefields Parkway, is one of the largest lakes in the Canadian Rockies. On a calm day, Bow Summit is perfectly reflected in the clear glacier water making it a great place for a picnic, a swim, or a short walk along the shore.
There are a few hiking trails in the area that offer excellent views from above. If you’re into waterfalls, follow the trail around the lake and hike up to Bow Glacier Falls! Once you’re finished, have a picnic on the shore or go for a swim.