Explore Banff - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

trip to banff

Banff Map

Trail was awesome the view is amazing and super easy and laid back

After a grueling hike 2 days ago, looking for something a bit more manageable. The first 1.5 miles or so are a gentle walk through some new growth and many downed old trees. Once you reach the signs say that the trail is not maintained beyond that point, I strongly recommend you continue up either the left trail to the top of the central cliff wall face or the right side toward the towering falls on the vertical face to the right. It is a loop, so you can go around. You will be rewarded by a magnificent waterfall through the center of the canyon and many new falls that cannot be seen from the end of the maintained trail. Views of valley below and many peaks around are stunning. Many different geological features and just plain gorgeous. A new addition to my top 5 favorite hikes.

Worth the effort. Incredible views, esp of the valley behind the lake.

Incredible views from the end of the trail. Worth doing despite crowds.

Nice hike. Stay near the water as others have advised. Trail washed out a bit around 1.5 miles in but manageable. Look for rock piles (trail guides) and stay close to the water before the stairs. Stopped by the natural bridge over the river (leads to bow hut trail). There’s a ladder so you can climb on top.

You either have to do the 5 km hike straight up or take the 64 dollar gondola ride to the top to access this trail.

5 days ago

Great hike! Warned that after the 6 k mark the trail is not maintained. After, there are 2 ways to the glacier, I recommend using the one on the right, as you can scramble up to an amazing waterfall. watch out for loose rocks (scree) coming down as it is easy to fall

Great day today, the weather was perfect. It’s a little more windy and cold near the falls but that is to be expected with glacier water. Some parts were scarier for me because I’m afraid of heights but even as a beginner hiker it wasn’t too bad. I had my poles and good hiking boots. The elevation is not much and it’s mostly an easy hike, just one steeper section. The falls are awesome and the lake is so blue! By far one of my favorite hikes.

Great hike! Started out early, so really didn't see anyone until we started heading down. It was non stop people by then. Arrived just in time at the parking area to stop a guy from blocking us in to our parking spot - guess the overflow on the road wasn't to his liking and double parking seemed to suit him better. Recommend weekday - morning to hike this.

Great views of the water- stick to the river! Made the mistake of going through the forest unnecessarily.

Fabulous hike! Good incline for the first couple of kilometres but nothing too strenuous.

10/10 views. Lots of steps. Sooo many people at the top, but you will get why, as the view is magnificent. scramble down some rocks to get picks without 100 million people in them. the color of the lake is un like anything. Watch out for thieving chipmunks.

10/10 views. Paved, very short trail with steep incline to the look out. Bathrooms in the parking lot. SOOO many people acting like fools.

Beautiful hike. One of my top five, I loved every second. Gorgeous views all the way up. Meadows full of wildflowers and beautiful waterfalls. I was nervous about bears but there was enough people that it eased my mind- bear spray is a must.

Beautiful Hike and great views. If you can, stay on the path near the river bed until you get to the steeper section with stairs that will take you to the viewpoint and then on to the falls. You can opt to take the right path through the forest as we did, but in retrospect the other way in much easier and scenic (we did that on the way back). Through the forest you will need to climb fairly steep and dense sections of overgrown forest. We were lucky some previous hikers left some markers to guide us out of it. You will end up in an open section of low vegetation near a creek bed infested with mosquitoes (luckily we had mosquito repellent on us) so push on toward the river side, left when looking toward the falls and glacier. Once you reach the riverbed side it is pretty straight forward. In a nutshell, unless there is too much water, go the riverbed side. Views from the falls are great looking towards bow lake and the Num Ti Jah lodge.

10 days ago

Great Hike albeit fairly steep in some parts. Lots of wildlife on a trail and especially in the tundra where friendly hoary marmots come to greet you and lick your shoes to say hello ;) . Great panorama of the Bow valley and lake and crowfoot glacier along the way. There is also tons of wild flowers in the various meadows you pass during the hike during the June/July months.

An easy trail until the sign warns that beyond is not maintained, from there it gets to be a hard go. The easy section is a narrow trail with gradual switchbacks with roots and rocks on the path. Short tree growth allows views of both the valley and river. Once across the bridge the incline increases but still an easy go. I watched for the flowers while my husband was counting the butterfly species that crossed our path. Once we got to the end of the maintained trail we went to the right as was suggested. Definitely a scramble hike up to the ice caves and beyond to the glacier. The trail is unclear at many times on the right but rock cairns helped us navigate to the top. Once at the top we sat on a rock and enjoyed the gushing water and sights all around us. We descended on the left side which was a mix of loose rocks and a steep incline to a trail that was somewhat packed and easy to find. I agree that I would climb the right and descend the left as I find it easier to get a footing on loose rock going up than down. One of the most spectacular hikes we have been on in the area. Water falls, rivers, glaciers, ice caves, alpine meadows, rock beds, it has it all in one location. You can pick and choose what you want to see and what you will do next time.

A very busy but short easy hike up stone stairs to the top. In order to get pictures with no one in them you will have to climb over the stone wall and down a few of the rocks. Once you pick a good spot you won’t have any worries about getting people or trees in your picture / view.

Wow! What a hike. A little Difficult to find the trailhead so look for the turnout in the road. Loved all the rock and waterfalls along the way to the tree line to the top. Gorgeous views and a most excellent adventure! Will be doing this one again.

Nice easy hike up a paved trail leading to an overpopulated wooden lookout. For an even better view with no one in your way, leave behind the crowds and continue on to a three-way junction. Left leads to the upper bus parking lot while the right and middle trails continue on to a Forest loop. Take the middle trail and continue on for about a kilometre where you will run into an unmarked dirt trail on your left. Take this switchback trail up to an amazing lookout with no one around. It’s well worth it, trust me.

Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful lakes in the Rockies. The short uphill trail can get quite busy. But the view at the top is incredible.

11 days ago

We were here on Canada Day. So it was kind of busy. It was raining by the time we got here but then it stopped raining as we started the hike. Few folks on their way down told us they experienced hail when they were at the top. The initial part of the trail needs more effort compared to what is required in the second half of the trail. So an easy to moderate trail overall. It becomes harder, steeper and less defined by the end. So quite a few people turn back from there while few take up the challenge to venture out further. Provides incredible views all along.

I went on June 14th at around noon. Bit of overcast and sprinkling rain, but the water was still unbelievably blue. Went on this short hike with my 5 month old, 11, 7 and 5 year olds. Not very busy till after 2pm.

Amazing hike! The snow has melted on the main trail but if you go on the upper lookout peak past the lake then beware that there still is some snow if you want the full experience. It is shallow and easy to traverse.

12 days ago

This is the most scenic hike I have ever been on out of the 30 or so ive done in the last decade. It is my second time hiking into helen lake and I could do it 100 more times and it would still be just as amazing. The hike itself is not too challenging. We hiked crypt lake 2 days before so we were still a bit sore from that. The beggining of the hike is the most challenging, but I believe this /to be manageable for most able bodied people. The trail continues to the right of helen lake to the southwest ridge of cirque peak. You need to do this portion of the hike! The views become tremendously more brilliant and you will have a view of a dolomite pass, watermelon peak and you can see the trail you walked in on and we managed to get a cell signal up top! All in all this hike is one of the best ive ever done and it is truly a treasure of the canadian rockies!!

13 days ago

Fantastic hike to Helen Lake and then to the ridge to the east. The snow has melted from the trail. The trail is wet with runoff but no problems hiking. The views are amazing, a very worthwhile hike. Lots of marmots to entertain the visitors. This is a busy trail.

Busy and people just stomp all over vegetation to get a good picture. Beautiful views.

beautiful hike only four stars because of the crowds and limited parking

The official trail is a nice easy hike that starts with about 11 mellow switchbacks. The low new growth makes for some nice views. The end of the official trail is where the real fun begins, with a climb up the valley walls to the plateau and glacier at the end. We took the trail on the left side of the valley up and the trail on the right side down, I’d probably ascend the right side trail if I did it again. Wear good hiking boots and would recommend poles (we didn’t have any and the descent on loose rocks was extra slow going). The views are incredible, from the end of the official trail and the plateau.

e' un bel trail...pare davvero di essere sulle nostre Dolomiti...e' una gigantografia delle Dolomiti. Paesaggi e panorami molto belli e suggestivi. il Canada e' davvero immenso!

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