Guide for a perfect visit to Banff

If you decide to move from dream to action by offering yourself the opportunity to attend the Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival, don’t stop here! Take the opportunity to hike in the mountains around Banff and Lake Louise. Here is our guide to the perfect Banff visit!

A little guide from a Festival regular

At the end of October and beginning of November, the objective is not to reach the summits with a 65-liter backpack on the shoulders. Rather, we aim to get close to them via the open trails of the moment. Short easy hike or more demanding outing of several hours, the grandiose of the Rockies will be from all points of view!

When we were at the festival in the fall of 2020, we started with an easy hike from the foot of our hotel, which was located high up on the edge of town. After a road trip of 3600 kilometers done in three and a half days, crampons and ice axes were left at the condo. It is rather via the 4,5 km trail leading to the top of Tunnel Mountain that we untied our legs.

The next morning, we woke up at dawn and headed for Vermilions Lakes. No hike here, only some steps to go on the quay, blanket, coffee and camera in hand to widen the eyes in front of the sunrise. In the return, we play it easy with a wink in the Mount Norquay Lookoot. View on the ski resort and especially, on the mountains and the Vermilion lakes visited the morning.

Then, we leave our Hidden Ridge Resort (perfect location, far from downtown, nestled in the hills), to go to the top of the iconic Sulphur Mountain. If you find a good excuse to use the gondola, you’ll be there in eight minutes. For walkers, the trails will be more inspiring than the wire ropes. The zigzagging trail conditions our brains for what awaits after 5 km of climbing: a spectacular view.

Like any summit with a gondola, the arrival is in a space where the commercial aspect tries to compete with the scale of the mountains. But the 360-degree panorama is quickly declared as the winner. The Discovery Center is of interest, as is the restaurant with a window that reveals the hypnotizing peaks without obstacle.

Have you worn out your soles to reach the trail? The Banff Gondola rewards you with a free ride home. Get the camera ready: the peaks and their flanks pass quickly and the cabin is soon at its destination!

Beyond its castle and ski resort, Lake Louise is a perfect base camp for great hiking. After leaving Banff and driving less than an hour on the Bow Valley Parkway, we spend our first night at the warm Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Early the next day, we head for the trails leading to Agnes Lake and Big Beehive with Dave, a guide from Yamnuska Mountain Adventures (10 km loop).

Depending on snow conditions, the hike to the Teahouses via Plain of Six Glaciers, Highline, Big Beehive, and Lake Agnes Trails will require a 19 km loop.

Thanks to the following partners whose warm welcome helped make this article possible:

Hidden Ridge Resort

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Yamnuska Mountain Adventures

Banff Lake Louise Tourism

Banff Gondola

Air Canada