Despite more than 20 years of hiking experience, we occasionally blow our trip planning. So while we thoroughly enjoyed the varied landscape and fantastic scenery just beyond Bow Hut, we didn’t even know to hike up The Onion for an overhead view of Iceberg Lake. That’s a good reason to hike this trail again – soon!
While not the most scenic hike, there is definitely a fun factor to this half-day outing – creek crossings, rock-hopping, pictographs, waterfalls and rock climbers are all appealing. Natural turnaround points are at the waterfall (approx. 2 km return) and at the hoodoos (approx. 6 km return). The steep canyon walls and creek can be a cool respite on hot summer days. In the winter, ice cleats should be considered essential for this trail.
Popular hiking trails in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks are expected to be busier than ever in 2017, thanks to free national parks entry in celebration of Canada’s 150th. Thanks to careful planning and trail selection, we’re aiming for maximum enjoyment while exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains this summer. Read on to take advantage of our top strategies and to get the inside scoop on our favourite hiking trails.
An awesome wildflower season hike, the Helen Lake trail is also a good option for early fall. It offers great views of Crowfoot Glacier across the valley, has a relatively modest elevation gain of just under 600 meters from trailhead to lake shore, and includes a long stretch of trail with expansive views of Dolomite Peak and several unnamed ridges and peaks. Upon reaching the scenic highlight that is Helen Lake, there are a few options to extend the day, including hiking to the Cirque Peak or a nice ridge walk above the lake.
The Stanley Glacier hike in Kootenay National Park has a lot going for it: 1) less than two hours from Calgary (under an hour from Canmore) it’s about the same travel time to/from as many of our favourite hikes deep in Kananaskis; 2) it’s pretty easy; 3) fossils; 4) new and old growth forests; 5) Mount Stanley, Mount Storm and Mount Whymper; 6) waterfalls; 7) a hanging valley; and 8) Stanley Glacier! After our second trip up and down the trail, we added Stanley Glacier to our list of all-time favourites hikes.