15 Easy Hikes in Banff National Park

Author: Dan Brewer

Last Updated:

Banff National Park is world-famous for its majestic mountain landscape. The rocky mountain landscape has many difficult hikes, but thankfully there are also lots of easy hikes in Banff. In fact, many of the best hikes in Banff National Park are easy.

People of all ability levels can enjoy some easy hiking trails in Banff National Park. In fact, one of the best ways to enjoy the magnitude of Banff’s mountain peaks is to enjoy them from down below.

Standish Viewing Deck in Banff National Park at Sunshine Meadows
We love the epic views at Sunshine Meadows.

Snow and glacial ice melt from Banff’s mountains in the spring to create beautiful alpine lakes with an incredible blueish-green color. On a sunny day, you simply won’t believe the colors you see. Many of the best Banff hikes are along the shores of its many beautiful lakes.

Melting ice also has a hand in creating the other locations for some of the best easy hikes in Banff. Hiking along the floor of canyons and valleys is a fun way to explore the mountains without needing to climb any of them. Taking an easy walk along the base of the mountains gives you a sense for the sheer size of Banff’s mountains.

Hiking truly is one of the best free things to do in Banff!

We have lived in Canmore (near Banff) with our kids for over five years. We love hiking with our kids and we hike in Banff with kids frequently. The easy Banff hikes listed below are also some of the best family-friendly hikes in Banff and included in our list of best things to do in Banff with kids.

This post contains compensated links.

15 Easy Hikes in Banff

1. Johnston Canyon Hike to the Lower Falls

Empty Raised walking platforms along Johnston Canyon Hike
I’ve loved the boardwalks at Johnston Canyon ever since I was a kid.

The Johnston Canyon Lower Falls trail is not only one of the best easy hikes in Banff, it’s one of the best hikes in Banff National Park. Located on the Bow Valley Parkway scenic drive, this fun & unique hike follows Johnston Creek into depths of Banff’s of Johnston Canyon. The Johnston Canyon trail alternates between smooth gravel in a lush evergreen forest and elevated walkways bolted to the rocky walls of the canyon.

The safe elevated walkways are the most fun part of this easy hike in Banff. They hover above the rushing water and provide walkers a unique vantage point to one of Banff’s most beautiful locations.

This easy hike ends at a viewpoint for the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls. You can either stay dry and enjoy the Lower Falls’ beauty from an elevated walkway or you can enter a small cave for an up-close experience.

The Johnston Canyon Lower Falls cave is one of the reasons why this is one of the most popular kid-friendly hikes in Banff. You really can feel the power of the waterfall from inside the cave. Beware – you will get wet!! 

See more information about the Johnston Canyon Hike. If you have the energy and time, continue on past Johnston Canyon and hike to the Ink Pots!

Read More

Read all about cycling the Bow Valley Parkway to enjoy Johnston Canyon with a cycling experience.

2. Tunnel Mountain Hike

A family hike along the Tunnel Mountain Trail near the Town of Banff
Tunnel Mountain is one of our favorite family hikes in Banff.

Want to tell your friends that you summited a mountain in Banff? The Tunnel Mountain trail is the easiest hike to a mountain summit in Banff National Park.

Tunnel Mountain is a cute little mountain just outside the Town of Banff. You can walk to the top of this easy Banff hike with about 15% of the elevation gain vs. some of the surrounding 3,000 m peaks.

The Tunnel Mountain hike is a gradual uphill trail, so there is some moderate effort involved. You will be rewarded with excellent views of the Banff Townsite, the iconic Banff Springs Hotel and the surrounding mountain landscape of Banff National Park.

Tunnel Mountain is one of our favorite easy hikes in Banff with the kids.

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This is one of the most popular hikes in the Town of Banff. Get all the information you need in our full post on the Tunnel Mountain Hike.

We have some great resources for hiking with kids on our Family Can Travel website. Check out our best tips for hiking with kids, the best hiking gear for kids and the 9 Best Hiking Songs for Your Family.

3. Sunshine Meadows Hike

Rock Isle Lake at Sunshine Meadows in Banff NP
Rock Isle Lake at Sunshine Meadows.

The Sunshine Meadows hike is home to some of the most incredible mountain scenery within Banff National Park. I’ve lived near Banff my whole life and I was still blown away by the scenery at Sunshine Meadows on my last visit. The best part? This easy hike in Banff is almost all downhill!!

This spectacular easy hike is located within the Sunshine Village ski resort. To get there, you’ll need to buy lift tickets for the enjoyable & scenic 4.3km gondola ride to the ski resort. Once at the top, you take the Standish Express Quad chairlift to the beginning of the super-easy downhill hike back to the upper gondola building.

taking the Standish Chairlift to Sunshine Meadows
Taking my son on the Standish Chairlift at Sunshine Meadows.

There are several hiking trails to choose from within Sunshine Meadows. The easiest scenic route we recommend is most was Trail 2 (Standish Viewing Deck Loop) to Trail 3 (Rock Isle Junction) to Trail 1 (Rock Isle Road).

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If you love Rocky Mountain scenery, Sunshine Meadows is a can’t miss Banff attraction. Get all the information you need in our post about the Sunshine Meadows hike.

4. Lake Louise Hike – Lakeshore Trail

The view of Lake Louise standing in front ofthe Chateau Lake Louise

No trip to Banff National Park is complete without a visit to Lake Louise. You will be in awe as you stand in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel looking out at the turquoise-blue waters of Lake Louise surrounded by many jagged 2,500 m peaks.

One of the best easy hikes in Lake Louise is a very enjoyable walk along the northern shore of the lake. The Lake Louise Lakeshore trail is as flat as you can get in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, with virtually no noticeable elevation gain to contend with. There are no trees to obscure the views of beautiful Lake Louise and its surrounding mountain peaks.

If you still have energy and wish to continue, the moderately difficult Plain of the Six Glaciers trail continues on from the end of the Lake Louise Lakeshore trail. We think the Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail is the best hike in Lake Louise.

The plain of six glaciers trail offers a chance to see some lake louise glaciers up close
The Plain of the Six Glaciers Trail.

Due to the popularity of Lake Louise in the summer, the paid parking lots at the Lake Louise Lakeshore fills quickly. Try these alternative free parking spots in Lake Louise instead.

A better way of getting to Lake Louise is to book a spot on one of the Parks Canada shuttle buses. We have a full post about the Lake Louise shuttle bus with everything you need to know.

Get more information on the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail.

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5. Moraine Lake Hike

Are there any easy hikes in Moraine Lake?
Celine and the kids enjoy an easy stroll along the shores of Moraine Lake.

Parks Canada has closed the Moraine Lake Road to private vehicles. To visit Moraine Lake in 2024, plan ahead by booking a shuttle so you aren’t disappointed.

It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful place than Lake Louise, but Moraine Lake just might be the most scenic spot in Banff National Park. Just a short drive from Lake Louise, Moraine Lake is close enough that you can visit both in one day and decide for yourself.

The easy Moraine Lake hike begins to the left of the Moraine Lake Lodge and follows the tree-lined western shoreline of Moraine Lake. As you enjoy this easy Banff walk, views of the incredibly blue Moraine Lake and its surrounding massive mountains will appear through the trees. As if that’s not enough, you’ll pass many scenic waterfalls feeding into Moraine Lake, including a large one at the end of the Moraine Lake Trail.

You’ll experience the sheer magnitude of Banff’s Rocky Mountains on this hike as the mountains hugging Moraine Lake are even taller than those wrapped around Lake Louise. With such an intimate amphitheater, you’ll feel humbled by their size.

Mountain peaks glowing at Moraine Lake at Sunrise in Banff National Park.
Sunrise at Moraine Lake

The incredible beauty of Moraine Lake means it is also one of the most popular places to visit in Banff National Park. Due to limited parking lot capacity, it can often be near impossible to visit Moraine Lake without advance planning. If you’d like find out why we think it is one of the best hiking trails in Moraine Lake, discover your options on how to get to Moraine Lake.

Get more information on the shoreline Moraine Lake Hike.

Read More

Looking for more great walks in the Canadian Rockies? Try these scenic walking trails in Canmore, Alberta.

6. Sulphur Mountain Lookout

Banff Mountains from Sulphur Mountain Gondola
Celine checking out the views from the top of Sulphur Mountain.

The Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain is one of the most popular things to do in Banff. After an enjoyable 8-minute gondola ride to the top, you’ll be treated to incredible views of the Banff townsite and the surrounding majesty of Banff National Park in all directions.

After enjoying the state-of-the-art summit building and interpretive centre at the top of the Banff Gondola, you can take a short walk along the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk trail.

This elevated wooden trail follows a ridgeline along the top of Sulphur Mountain, affording views in all directions. There are some stairs along the way, but there are plenty of benches to stop, rest and enjoys the view if required.

man walking on banff gondola boardwalk
Me walking the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk Trail to the Cosmic Ray Station.

In addition to the spectacular views, you’ll be rewarded with a visit to a National Historic Site of Canada at the end of the Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk Trail. The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was a station for scientists to study cosmic rays and space particles until 1978. To be honest, there’s not much to see here, but it’s still a fun end to one of the best easy hikes in Banff.

Read More

The Banff Gondola is one of the top attractions in Banff National Park. We have an article with everything you need to know about the Banff Gondola.

7. Peyto Lake Panorama Viewpoint

an 8-year old boy enjoys views of Peyto Lake after an easy kid-friendly hike to the viewpoint.

Many of the lakes within Banff National Park have incredible turquoise colored water. The lake which has the most incredible water color in Banff is Peyto Lake.

Visitors to Peyto Lakes can enjoy a short, easy walk on a paved path to an elevated viewpoint. From here you’ll get one of the most scenic vistas in all of Banff National Park and one of Banff’s best viewpoints.

Peyto Lake is the furthest of our easy hikes in Banff away from the Town of Banff. It’s a 35-minute drive past Lake Louise, but it is on the way to the Athabasca Glacier. If you are visiting the Athabasca Glacier for the Columbia Icefield Adventure, Peyto Lake is an excellent place to stop and stretch your legs on this easy hike.

Get more information on the Peyto Lake Panorama Viewpoint.

Wildlife Safety

When hiking in Banff National Park, you are responsible for your own safety. Before hitting the hiking trails we highly recommend you read our 10 Essential Banff Hiking Tips for information about bear safety, trail conditions, wildlife warnings and possible closures.

8. Silverton Falls Trail

Located just minutes down the Bow Valley Parkway from the mega-popular Johnston Canyon hike, the Silverton Falls hike is a real hidden gem and is one of my favorite easy hikes in Banff National Park.

The easy 1 km (one-way) hike to Silverton Falls runs through a beautiful evergreen forest, meeting up with the charming Silverton Creek along the way. There’s a few short sections which some beginner hikers may find steep, but they are over quickly enough.

a young girl sits on a rock admiring the Silverton Falls after a short family hike in Banff National Park.

The payoff of this short Banff waterfall hike is truly amazing. A towering, three-tier waterfall, Silverton Falls is one of the most visually impressive waterfalls in Banff. In my opinion, they certainly rival the much more popular waterfalls at Johnston Canyon.

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If you’d like to visit this beautiful Banff waterfall, get all the details you need in our full post about hiking to Silverton Falls.

9. Consolation Lakes Hike

The Consolation Lakes hike is an easy walk through a beautiful forest to an alpine lake surrounded by Rocky Mountains

We discovered the Consolation Lakes trail a few years ago and are kicking ourselves for not having done it earlier!

This easy Lake Louise hike departs from the Moraine Lake parking lot. It’s a great alternative if you want to avoid the massive crowds swarming for pictures of Moraine Lake.

The beginning of this hike has a bit of an uphill climb through a rock pile at the base of majestic Tower of Babel. You may need to step over an uneven rock or two in this section, but most people shouldn’t struggle with this. After this initial climb, the trail is reasonably level, with only minor hills to contend with.

The Consolation Lakes hike leads hikers through a dense mountain forest. With mushrooms and moss everywhere, kids will have fun looking for fairies!

This easy Banff walk ends along a very scenic spot along the shores of Babel Creek. Hikers who wish to reach the shoreline of the Consolation Lakes will need to do some minor scrambling for approx 100 m over some medium-sized boulders. The boulders are a good spot to see a rare marmot – please keep them stay wild by not feeding them.

Seeing marmot at Consolation Lakes Hike - best Banff Day hikes with kids
Our daughter sits still watching a Hoary Marmot at Consolation Lakes.

If you don’t wish to navigate the rocks, don’t worry – there are lots of spots to stop along the spot where Consolation Lake flows into Babel Creek. The views of the Consolation Lakes and its surrounding mountains are pretty special.

Safety note: Due to bear activity in the area, Parks Canada recommends hikers travel in groups of 4 or more.

Read More

We keep returning to do this Moraine Lake hike over and over. Find out why we love it so much in our full post about the Consolation Lakes Trail.

The Consolation Lakes hike is an easy walk through a beautiful forest to an alpine lake surrounded by Rocky Mountains

Recommended Tour

You can visit Consolation Lakes as part of a small-group guided tour with Discover Banff Tours.

10. Johnson Lake Hike

Johnson Lake Trail Banff Canada

The Johnson Lake day use area is one of our family’s favorite spots to go when we go hiking Banff National Park. It’s not nearly as popular as Lake Louise or Moraine Lake, which is exactly why we visit so often.

The easy trail around Johnson Lake is a loop, but we prefer to hike along the northern shore to the end of the lake and back. From the northern shore, you’ll enjoy amazing views of Johnson Lake with Mount Rundle in the background.

There is nothing wrong with the trail along the southern shore of Johnson Lake, but it’s primarily through the forest and you won’t get many mountain views.

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There’s lots of fun surprises along this easy Banff hiking trail, including an old hermit’s cabin. Find out more in our full post on the Johnson Lake Trail.

11. Bankhead Ghost Town

The Alberta ghost town of Bankhead is a fun and easy Banff hike
Our kids LOVE the easy walk through the Bankhead Ghost Town.

Did you know that there’s a ghost town in Banff National Park? Visitors to the Bankhead ghost town in the Minnewanka Loop will enjoy an easy Banff hike through a fascinating piece of Alberta history. Dating back to the early 1900’s, Bankhead, Alberta was a thriving coal mining town of nearly 1,000 citizens built next to the operations site of an anthracite coal mine.

Many of the residential buildings from Bankhead, Alberta were moved or demolished when the Bankhead Banff coal mine closed in 1922, many of the buildings were moved or dismantled. A surprising amount of the coal mining operations still remains in this unique Banff ghost town.

A compressed air locomotive from the Old Canmore Mine - currently located along the easy hike in Banff through the Lower Bankhead ghost town

Today, visitors to the Bankhead ghost town can enjoy an easy Banff hike around the remains of the former Banff coal mining operation.

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The big kid in me just loves this place. Get more information about the Bankhead Ghost Town hike – one of the best hiking trails near Lake Minnewanka.

12. Fairview Lookout Trail

One of our favorite easy hikes in Lake Louise, the Fairview Lookout Trail is an easy way to get some incredible scenery.

The Fairview Lookout trail is a short Banff hike, clocking in at just 1 km in each direction. You begin near the Lake Louise boathouse and wind your way up the lower slopes of Fairview Mountain. The trail can be a little steep in spots, but the trail is really short and the views of Lake Louise are worth it.

The vibrant turquoise water of Lake Louise is incredible from the viewing platform on the Fairview Lookout hike.
The view of Lake Louise from the Fairview Lookout – that water color is not fake.

There’s a small viewing platform at the end of the Fairview Lookout trail which provides an amazing vista of Lake Louise, the Chateau Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains of the Canadian Rockies.

The best part? The incredible turquoise water color of Lake Louise gets even more vibrant the higher up you go. The Fairview Lookout trail is the easiest hike in Lake Louise which enables you to see this natural wonder.

The kids love the views from Fairview Lookout too!

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Want to enjoy the water colors of Lake Louise too? Read our full post on the Fairview Lookout Trail.

13. Vista Lake Trail

Tucked away in an often forgotten corner of Banff National Park, the walk to Vista Lake is a very enjoyable easy hike in Banff National Park. Despite being a bit remote, Vista Lake is actually 10 minutes closer to the Banff townsite than Lake Louise!

Enjoy fall colors and beautiful views of Vista Lake on this easy hike in Banff National Park Canada
Celine enjoys the easy Vista Lake hike in fall.

This easy Banff hike is all downhill from the trailhead all the way to the shores of Vista Lake. Along the way you’ll be descending into a valley at the base of the majestic Storm Mountain. As the hiking trail descends along the valley wall, you’ll always enjoy a great view looking down-slope.

The view on this easy Banff hiking trail varies from the expansive evergreen forest through the valley, to the rocky upper slopes of Storm Mountain, to Boom Mountain across the highway (home to the popular, moderately difficult Boom Lake hike).

Bonus Easy Hikes

There are two beautiful easy hikes just minutes away from Vista Lake in Kootenay National Park. While in the area, don’t miss visiting Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots.

Best Easy hikes in Banff, Canada - Vista Lake and Storm Mountain

Approximately halfway down the trail, Vista Lake comes into view and remains in view until you reach her beautiful shores. On a clear day, looking at the submerged rocks and tree trunks through the crystal-clear emerald green water of Vista Lake is breathtaking.

The easy hike to Vista Lake in Banff National Park, Canada

Of course, being all downhill on the way to Vista Lake, means you need to walk uphill back to the trailhead. The Vista Lake parking lot is approximately 130 m above this beautiful Banff lake.

Spread over 1.5 km, this means you’ll be climbing an average of 8.5 m per 100 m hiked. It may be a challenge for some beginner hikers, but the return trip on this easy Banff hike should be doable for most.

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Vista Lake is the first lake that hikers encounter on their way to Arnica Lake and on to the Twin Lakes of Banff. For more information on the Vista Lake trail, please see our full post on the Arnica Lake trail.

14. Smith Lake Trail

If a short Banff hike is what you’re looking for, then you can’t go wrong with a hike to Smith Lake in Banff. At only 1.6 km each way, hikers can escape the crowds and enjoy a beautiful Banff Lake.

Smith Lake in Banff National Park
Smith Lake – Banff National Park

The Smith Lake trail also offers hikers to the opportunity to visit another Banff lake. Copper Lake is just a short 0.7 km from the parking lot. The total to both lakes will be 4.6 km with approximately 280 m elevation gain.

Hiking to Copper Lake with Kids in Banff
Our kids on the hiking trail to Copper Lake.

The trail to Copper Lake is flat and well groomed. The downfall of this trail is that it’s close enough to the highway to hear the traffic for the majority of the hike. We recommend doing this portion first.

Copper Lake in Banff National Park
Copper Lake in Banff National Park.

After completely the hike to Copper Lake, return the same way and instead of turning back to the parking lot, continue straight to join the Smith Lake trail. The trails are both easy to follow and are well marked.

The Smith Lake trail has more incline and more roots, but both are easy to manage. After the uphill climb, you’ll be on the ridge overlooking Smith Lake. It’s a short but steep descent down to enjoy this peaceful lake in Banff.

Banff hiking - Smith Lake Hike
Our son hikes the Smith Lake Trail.

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Ahhh… beautiful Banff lakes without the crowds… find out more in our post about the hike to Smith Lake in Banff.

15. Lake Louise Gondola Hiking Trails

If you take a trip up the Lake Louise Gondola, you’ll have two different hiking options. The shortest hike from the Lake Louise Gondola is the Kicking Horse Viewpoint trail at 1.7 km return. The second trail is the Pika trail at 2.5 km return (or add on the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint to increase the total distance to 3.4 km return).

Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint - Lake Louise Gondola hikes
Our kids at the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint

While these hiking trails at the Lake Louise Gondola aren’t the most exciting at times (since they follow the large ski trails), they still offer some exceptional views. In the fall, these are the easiest larch hikes in Banff. Plus there’s the chance to spot grizzly bears from the gondola.

Keep in mind that this is grizzly bear territory, so you’ll need to access the trails through the gate. Be prepared for an encounter and always carry bear spray.

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There is so much to see and do at this top Banff attraction. Get all the details in our post about the Lake Louise summer gondola.

Trail Maps for the Easy Hikes in Banff

It’s pretty hard to get lost on any of these easy hikes in Banff, so you likely won’t need to bring any Banff trail maps with you.

That said, I still like having a digital map of my Banff hikes with me. I use and recommend the AllTrails app as it has an extensive database of Banff hikes. I like having a history of my Banff hikes along with the stats for each (distance, elevation gain, etc.).

You can find a link to all the appropriate AllTrails hiking maps in the individual blog posts for each hike.

A recent App of the Year winner, AllTrails is also one of the best apps for visiting Banff! Enjoy map downloads and many more premium features with a 7-day free trial of AllTrails+!

What to Bring Hiking in Banff

Even though these are easy Banff hikes, you should bring along the basic hiking gear to ensure a safe and successful outing. Before hitting the hiking trails, be sure to check out our recommended Banff hiking gear.

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Want to improve your chances of seeing wildlife in Banff? Get wildlife spotting tips from a professional photographer.

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Don't miss these easy hikes in Banff National Park. With some of the most incredible views, these easy Banff hikes should be on your must-see list.

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Dan Brewer, a life-long Alberta resident, calls Canmore home along with his wife and two kids. He is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada, where he gets to share his passion for the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Dan, along with his family, love being outdoors doing one of the many activities they enjoy in the mountains: hiking, mountain biking, paddleboarding, skiing, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

When he's not in Canmore enjoying one of his favourite local hikes, you can find him hoping on a plane to explore a new country with his family or working on one of their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.