Skip to Content

Best Banff National Park Hikes Without a Car

While in the past we’ve recommended visiting Banff National Park with a car, the increasing competition for parking has us rethinking that recommendation. Instead we challenged ourselves to come up with the best Banff National Park hikes without a car.

Sure, it’s easier, more convenient and more flexible to travel through Banff National Park with a car. On the flip side, what we often see is overcrowded parking lots, people frustrated about parking and people making bad decisions about where they park. Or worse yet, visitors don’t get to visit the places they most hoped to see because it’s too busy.

This is all on top of the environmental concerns with so many cars entering the national park. We often see articles like this one where Banff and Lake Louise are asking visitors to use public transit wherever possible.

We’ve also noticed that this year, it’s particularly difficult and expensive to get a rental car.

We get it! You’ve come to Banff on a once-in-a-lifetime trip and you have places you want to see. And while we always recommend having a backup plan, in case parking is limited, we understand you don’t want to miss out on what you came here to see. And we don’t want you to miss out on anything!

Watch for mountain goats on the plain of 6 glaciers hike

In our post on getting around Banff without a car, you’ll find more suggestions on how to get around. We also have a list of Best Things to do in Banff Without a Car (coming soon). In this post, we want to show visitors to Banff National Park that it is still possible to do some incredible hiking, even without a car!

I’ll admit, when I started this post I had roughly 10 hikes in mind that visitors could easily get to without a car. It didn’t take long before this ballooned to over 30 Banff hikes!

Here are the best Banff hikes without a car:

Big Beehive behind Lake Agnes trail

This post contains compensated links.

33 Banff Hikes You Can Do Without a Car

Tunnel Mountain

Trailhead: Tunnel Mountain Trailhead

Distance: 4.6 km out and back

Elevation: 266 m elevation gain

Tunnel Mountain hike - one of the best Banff National Park hikes without a car

Tunnel Mountain is an easy Banff hike that offers excellent views of the Banff Townsite, the Banff Springs Hotel, the Bow Valley and the surrounding mountains.

The Tunnel Mountain hike leads hikers up the eastern slope of Tunnel Mountain to the summit. You will enter a forest almost immediately, but as you make your way up the switchbacks you will encounter plenty of breaks in the trees to enjoy epic views. On your way up, you’ll enjoy views of the historic Banff Springs Hotel and the mountains surrounding the Bow Valley to the north.

Near the top you will come to a Tunnel Mountain viewpoint where Parks Canada has placed two of the iconic bright Banff red chairs. This is one of the best Banff viewpoints and a highly Instagramable spot that’s perfect for your social media feed.

Red Chairs at Tunnel Mountain Summit Banff

The main parking lot for the Tunnel Mountain hike is along St. Julien Road, but it is closed until October 2022. To access the Tunnel Mountain trail in 2022, you have two options:

  • The best route (which will always be open) is to walk the Ken Madsen Path which can be accessed from this spot on Wolverine St. up to the Banff Centre, and then take St. Julien Way to Tunnel Mountain Drive to access the upper trailhead.
  • Alternatively, hikers can begin at Surprise Corner and walk to the Tunnel Mountain trailhead via Tunnel Mountain Drive to an open section of St. Julien Road.

How to get to Tunnel Mountain hiking trail without a car:

  • Walk: It’s about 1km to walk to the trailhead from the Banff town centre. This should take you roughly 15 minutes. Walking to Tunnel Mountain extends the total distance of the hike from 4.5km to 6.5km. A good option if you want a little extra exercise.

Sulphur Mountain

Trailhead: Sulphur Mountain Trailhead

Distance: 10.9 km out and back (including Sanson Peak Boardwalk)

Elevation: 756 m elevation gain

Banff Mountains from Sulphur Mountain Gondola

The Banff Gondola is one of the top attractions in Banff National Park. It’s no surprise, given the views from the top of Sulphur Mountain are some of the best views in all of Banff. Did you know that you don’t need to take the Banff Gondola to get to the top of Sulphur Mountain? Everyday plenty of people hike to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

As an added bonus, you can hike Sulphur Mountain before the gondola even starts running. You might just get to enjoy those world-class views without another soul around!

Mountain Views from Sulphur Mountain Boardwalk - easy Banff hike without a car

The Sulphur Mountain hiking trail is through a dense evergreen forest, with a mossy carpet and Old Man’s Beard lichen dangling from the branches. The forest tends to block your views, but if you keep an eye open you’ll be afforded tons of excellent vistas along the way to the Sulphur Mountain summit.

How to get to Sulphur Mountain hiking trail without a car:

Sundance Canyon

Trailhead: Cave & Basin site

Distance: 10 km out and back

Elevation:  351 m elevation gain

Mountain Reflections on Bow River on Sundance Canyon Hiking Trail Banff

A paved pathway meandering through the forest doesn’t make for the most exciting hike and while it might seem touristy, we are certain you’ll still love Sundance Canyon.

The paved trail descends gradually towards the Bow River, where it eventually flattens out and the Sundance Trail begins a beautiful stretch along the shores of the Bow River. Once the paved Sundance trail turns inland away from the river, it begins a slow, steady ascent through the forest to the Sundance Canyon hiking trail. Just short of the 4 km mark of this easy Banff hike (or bike), the trail reaches the shores of Sundance Creek.

Water flowing in Sundance Canyon in Banff National Park - hikes without a car

The next leg of the Sundance Canyon hike is truly spectacular. The trail ascends a relatively steep trail where Sundance Creek violently rages its way through Sundance Canyon. With a beautiful cascading waterfall, followed by dramatic rapids, below a towering canyon wall, this is one of the most scenic spots in all of Banff National Park.

How to get to Sundance Canyon hiking trail without a car:

  • Bus: The Sundance Canyon Trail begins at the historic Cave & Basin site. The Roam Route 4 takes visitors to the Cave and Basin.
  • Walk: The Sundance Canyon trailhead can be reached by biking or walking 2 km from downtown Banff. From Banff Avenue, cross the Bow River Bridge and turn west (right) to the parking lot.
  • Bike: This is an excellent trail to ride bikes on. Just don’t forget the lock to lock up bikes at the start of the canyon portion of the hike (where the paved trail ends).
  • Tour: Starting June 1st, the WowBanff Jump On Jump Off tour bus stops at the Cave and Basin. This is available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.

Surprise Corner to Hoodoos Trail

Trailhead: Surprise Corner to Banff Hoodoos trailhead

Distance: 9.6 km out and back

Elevation: 355 m elevation gain

Banff Springs Hotel as seen from Surprise Corner Viewpoint

Just minutes from downtown Banff, Surprise Corner is one of Banff’s most scenic lookouts. From there, the hiking trail descends towards the Bow River along a double-wide hiking trail into a lush evergreen forest.

Throughout the Surprise Corner to Hoodoos hike, you’ll encounter stairs, meadows, mountain scenery (including views of Mount Rundle, Mt. Girouard and Mt. Inglismaldie) and a short, steep section that climbs up to Tunnel Mountain Road. With plenty of variety, this is a very enjoyable hike that leaves right from the Banff townsite.

Eventually, you’ll reach one of the best viewpoints of Tunnel Mountain, where you can see why the Stoney people used to call this small Banff peak, “Sleeping Buffalo”. Looking the other direction, you’ll enjoy unobstructed eastward views down the Bow Valley as far as Pigeon Mountain and Mount Lady Macdonald near Canmore.

Enjoy excellent views of Mount Rundle, Sulphur Mountain and Tunnel mountain from the Banff Hoodoos

The final 600 m of the Surprise Corner to the Banff Hoodoos trail is very scenic. There are no trees obstructing your 180-degree view looking south over the Bow River. When you reach a large parking lot, you’ll know you reached your final destination – the Banff hoodoos!

How to get to Banff Hoodoos hiking trail without a car:

  • Walk: You can reach Surprise Corner from downtown Banff in a 4 minute drive or a 20 minute walk. The Banff Hoodoos trailhead is found in the Surprise Corner viewpoint parking lot. Surprise Corner is found at the corner of Buffalo Street and Tunnel Mountain Drive.

Fenland Trail

Trailhead: Fenland Trail Parking

Distance: 2.1 km loop

Elevation Gain: n/a

easy hike in Banff with kids - Fenland Loop trail

The Fenland Trail loop is a nice escape from the busy Town of Banff. It’s an easy Banff hike through the wooded marshland along the banks of the Forty Mile Creek. This easy hiking trail in Banff can be accessed right from the town of Banff off Mt. Norquay Road.

To extend the walk, you can access Vermilion Lakes Drive (a paved road) from the Fenland loop and extend your walk past the stunning Vermilion Lakes.

How to get to Fenland hiking trail without a car:

  • Walk: It’s a short easy walk from downtown Banff to the Fenland trailhead.

Spray River Loop

Trailhead: Spray River Trailhead

Distance: 12.2 km loop

Elevation: 519 m elevation gain

Starting at the Spray West parking lot, this trail starts on a wide fire road. While the mountains views are only intermittent, it offers a pleasant walk through the forest.

At around the 6km mark, you’ll reach a picnic area. At this point, you cross the bridge and start heading back the way you came. As you near the end, you can take a trail to your left to cross the river and head back up to the parking lot.

Alternatively, if you continue straight, you’ll reach the Banff Springs Golf Course. You’ll need to follow the golf course road for a bit, before you can head back up to the Banff Springs Hotel through to the parking lot.

How to get to Spray River Loop hiking trail without a car:

  • Walk: It’s an additional 2.3 km (each way) from downtown Banff to the trailhead.
  • Bus: Roam Route 2 stops at the Banff Springs Hotel. The Spray West parking lot is found on the other side of the Banff Springs Hotel (off of Spray Avenue).
  • Tour: Starting June 1st, the WowBanff Jump On Jump Off tour bus stops at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. This is available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.

Sunshine Meadows

Trailhead: Sunshine Village

Distance: 11 km of trails

Elevation: depends on trails

Sunshine Meadows offers some of the most remarkable hiking trails in Banff National Park. Sunshine Meadows is actually the Banff Sunshine Ski Resort in the winter. In the summer, these mountain meadows explode with wildflowers and the mountain scenery amongst these alpine lakes is jaw-dropping.

You arrive at Sunshine Meadows by the Sunshine Gondola (one of 4 incredible Banff Gondolas to add to your summer itinerary!) followed by the Standish Chairlift. While you need to wait until at least the end of June to hike at Sunshine Meadows, it’s well worth the wait!

How to get to Sunshine Meadows hiking trails without a car:

  • Shuttle: Sunshine Village operates a daily shuttle from Banff to the Sunshine Gondola.
  • Tour: White Mountain Adventures offers guided hiking tours at Sunshine Meadows.

Johnston Canyon

Trailhead: Johnston Canyon Trailhead

Distance: 5 km out and back

Elevation: 150 m elevation gain

Empty Raised walking platforms along Johnston Canyon Hike

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular places to visit in Banff National Park. There’s a good reason why the Johnston Canyon hike is on everyone’s must-do list for Banff.

Sure, people say Johnston Canyon is too touristy, but it’s one of the best Banff attractions for a reason…  it’s short, easy, beautiful, fun and quite simply one of the best easy hikes in Banff!

The elevated pathways take you through a deep mountain canyon with many beautiful waterfalls along the way. Equally exciting is entering a dark cave to get so close to the Johnston Canyon Lower Falls that you get soaked.

Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon

It’s a scenic, fun and unique place that everyone should visit at least once during their trip to Banff National Park.

How to get to Johnston Canyon hiking trail without a car:

  • Bike: You can bike the Bow Valley Parkway without vehicle traffic if you visit between May 1 to June 25 or in September. The eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway from Fireside Day Use to Johnston Canyon will be closed to public vehicle traffic during this time.
  • Bus: Roam Route 9 and Roam Route 8S stop at Johnston Canyon. You can make a reservation on either of these Roam routes.

    Roam Route 9 runs from May 20 to October 20 in 2022.

    Route 8S (the scenic route to Lake Louise) runs only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 1st to September 18th. Typically this route would run 7 days a week in the summer but driver shortages in Banff has caused them to cut back.
  • Tour: HopOnBanff bus runs June 10 to September 25th and makes a stop at Johnston Canyon.

Ink Pots

Trailhead: Johnston Canyon Trailhead

Distance: 12 km out and back

Elevation: 608 m elevation gain

Summer hike in Banff to ink Pots

The Ink Pots are a collection of 5 blue-green ponds found amongst some incredible mountain scenery. Each time we hike to the Ink Pots we are reminded of what a special place this is in Banff National Park.

The Ink Pots can be reached by hiking past the Upper Falls at Johnston Canyon and joining the trail at the junction. There’s an alternate way to reach the Ink Pots using the Moose Meadows starting point. It avoids the crowds at Johnston Canyon and offers a peaceful walk through the forest.

Hiking forested Moose Meadows to Ink Pots

While it’s entirely possible to hike the Ink Pots as a loop, starting at one trail head and finishing up on the other, it’s important to know that Johnston Canyon is 2 km away from Moose Meadows along the highway. There’s no other way to connect the two parking lots, making this a fairly unenjoyable way to finish up an otherwise beautiful hike.

How to get to Ink Pots hiking trail without a car:

While you can reach the Ink Pots by hiking up from the Moose Meadows parking lot, none of these options (besides by bike) stop there, so the best way is to combine this with a hike up Johnston Canyon.

  • Bike: You can bike the Bow Valley Parkway without vehicle traffic if you visit between May 1 to June 25 or in September. The eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway from Fireside Day Use to Johnston Canyon will be closed to public vehicle traffic during this time.
  • Bus: Roam Route 9 and Roam Route 8S stop at Johnston Canyon. You can make a reservation on either of these Roam routes.

    Roam Route 9 runs from May 20 to October 20 in 2022.

    Route 8S (the scenic route to Lake Louise) runs only on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from July 1st to September 18th. Typically this route would run 7 days a week in the summer but driver shortages in Banff has caused them to cut back.
  • Tour: HopOnBanff bus runs June 10 to September 25th and makes a stop at Johnston Canyon.

Cascade Ponds / Lower Bankhead

Trailhead: Cascade Ponds to Bankhead Trail

Distance: 6.2 km out and back

Elevation: n/a

View of Cascade Ponds with mountain background

The walk around Cascade Ponds isn’t necessarily what we would describe as a hike, but it’s so beautiful with some of the best mountain views. From Cascade Ponds, you can take a short 2.6 km hike through the trees to Bankhead Ghost Town. From there you can do the 1 km loop around the Bankhead Ghost Town (this is a favorite Banff kids hike in our family!), then return to Cascade Ponds the same way.

Explore Alberta history at the Bankhead, Alberta ghost town

The hiking trailhead is a little hard to find, but it’s just north of the northern-most shelter at the Cascade Ponds picnic area – watch for a Park Canada hiking trail sign in the trees.

How to get to Bankhead Ghost Town without a car:

  • Bus: You can’t take a bus directly from the Banff townsite to the Bankhead ghost town, but you can get close. The Roam Route 6 bus runs from the Banff townsite to nearby Cascade Ponds.
  • Bike: You can bike the Banff Legacy Trail from Banff to Cascade Ponds.

Johnson Lake

Trailhead: Johnson Lake Day Use

Distance: 3 km loop

Elevation: 70 m elevation gain

Where to see fall colors in Banff National Park - Johnson Lake, Minnewanka Loop

The Johnson Lake hike is a short and easy hike that takes you all along the shores of this scenic Banff lake. With sections in the peaceful forest included with stunning mountain views, you can’t go wrong with this short hike and even a full day at Johnson Lake.

The Johnson Lake hermit cabin was built in 1910 by Billy Carver

There’s even a fun offshoot you can take along this hiking trail! Approximately 2/3 the way along the southern leg, there’s a real treat hidden in the forest about 100 feet off the Johnson Lake trail. In 1910, Billy Carver built a cabin near Johnson Lake and lived there as a hermit for 27 years. The lush forest around Johnson Lake has started to grow around this historic two bedroom cabin, but remarkably the cabin remains strong and standing.

How to get to Johnson Lake hiking trail without a car:

  • Bus: Roam Route 6 operates from May 20 to October 2 in 2022 with a stop at Johnson Lake.

Two Jack Lake

Trailhead: Two Jack Lake Day Use

Distance: 3.2 km out & back

Elevation Gain: 184 m

Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park

Two Jack Lake has a short hike that takes you from the Two Jack Lake Day Use area past the Two Jack Lakeside campground. It’s a short hike along the shores of Two Jack.

While the lake itself is stunning and worth a stop, you won’t see much more along the hike than you will from the shores of Two Jack. That being said, this is an excellent walk to pair with the Johnson Lake hike or if you are traveling to Banff with kids.

Lakeside trail at Two Jack Lake in Banff

How to get to Two Jack Lake hiking trail without a car:

  • Bus: Roam Route 6 operates from May 20 to October 2 in 2022 with a stop at Two Jack Lake Day Use.

Lake Minnewanka Hikes

Lake Minnewanka offers a few different hiking trails that are easily accessed right from the shores of this scenic mountain lake:

Boat Rentals Lake Minnewanka

Stewart Canyon

Trailhead: Stewart Canyon trailhead

Distance: 7.6 km out-and-back

Elevation: 80 m elevation gain

Lake Minnewanka Hikes - Stewart Canyon

The walk to the Stewart Canyon trailhead is an enjoyable stroll along the shores of Lake Minnewanka. The first kilometre or so is along a paved trail through the day use area.

The still waters of Lake Minnewanka eventually transition to the rapidly flowing waters of the Cascade River. Before long, you’ll be standing on a wooden bridge which spans the Stewart Canyon. Just 200 m past the bridge you’ll leave the Lake Minnewanka hike and transition to the Stewart Canyon hiking trail.

Orchid blooming in Banff National Park

The Stewart Canyon hike runs through a lush forest while following the Cascade River (watch small children as there’s a severe drop off to one side). The trail is often high above the rushing river below, offering excellent elevated views of the canyon. The forest floor is covered with an emerald moss, dappled with wildflowers. In June, there are clusters of delicate purple calypso orchids sitting in the dappled sunlight.

Lake Minnewanka Trail

Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka trailhead

Distance: 30 km out-and-back

Elevation: 300 m elevation gain

Hiking Lake Minnewanka lakeshore trail

The Lake Minnewanka hike along the northern shores of Lake Minnewanka is a beautiful walk along the biggest lake in Banff. At the 3 km mark, the trail is getting close to the shores of Lake Minnewanka and the trees become more sparse, allowing for some incredible views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains over Lake Minnewanka.

The majestic group of Mt. Inglismaldie, Mt. Rundle, Sulphur Mountain and Tunnel Mountain can all be seen across the beautiful turquoise waters of Lake Minnewanka.

This is a long trail that meanders along the shore, sometimes fully in the forest and other times closer to the shore. We recommend going as far as you like, then turning back. Unless, you have another hike in mind like Aylmer Lookout.

Aylmer Lookout

Trailhead: Aylmer Lookout trailhead

Distance: 8 km out-and-back (PLUS 15.6 km out-and-back on Lake Minnewanka trail for total of 23.6 km out-and-back from Lake Minnewanka Day Use)

Elevation: 560 m elevation gain

Standing at Aylmer Lookout Banff National Park

If you are looking to experience some of the best scenery in Banff, try the Aylmer Lookout trail. A challenging hike up a river valley along the lower slopes of Mount Aylmer, the payoff is a viewpoint atop a rocky outcrop with outstanding views of Lake Minnewanka and her surrounding mountains.

With Rocky Mountain peaks in all directions, you will need to work really hard to find a more scenic spot in Banff National Park than Aylmer Lookout.

You can also hike to Aylmer Pass from the same trailhead as Aylmer Lookout (look for signs along the way to follow to Aylmer Pass).

How to get to Lake Minnewanka hiking trails without a car

  • Bus: Roam Transit Route 6 from May 20 to October 2 in 2022 with a stop at Lake Minnewanka Day Use.
  • Tour: Starting June 1st, the WowBanff Jump On Jump Off tour bus stops at Lake Minnewanka. This is available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.

Lake Louise Ski Resort Gondola

Aside from a chance to see grizzly bears, which is reason enough, another reason to take the Lake Louise Summer Gondola is for the opportunity to hike.

Visitors to the top of the Lake Louise Summer Gondola do not have to remain within the safety of the enclosed electric fence. There are two enjoyable hikes to choose from.

Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint

The Kicking Horse Pass Viewpoint hike is a short 1.7 km out-and-back hike to a viewpoint just northwest of the viewing platform.

viewing platform - Lake Louise gondola summer

Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint

The Pika Trail to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint is the second hike from the Lake Louise Gondola. This Lake Louise hike is twice as long as the Kicking Horse Pass hike at 3.4 km out-and-back. Hiking to the Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint can be steep in spots, but it pays off with a viewpoint much different to the one you get from the top of the sightseeing gondola trailhead.

Ptarmigan Valley Viewpoint - Lake Louise Gondola hikes

How to get to Lake Louise Ski Resort without a car:

  • Shuttle: Parks Canada offers a FREE Park and Ride Connector Shuttle from the village of Lake Louise up to Lake Louise Ski Resort (the location of the Park and Ride for Moraine Lake and Lake Louise). Operates May 20 to October 10th.

    Lake Louise also offers a shuttle from either the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise or Samson Mall to the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Check here to see if you can take this shuttle for FREE.
  • Tour: HopOnBanff bus runs June 10 to September 25th and makes a stop at Lake Louise Gondola.

Lake Louise Hikes

Lake Louise hikes will satisfy any hiker! Aside from the popular, flat paved Lake Louise lakeshore trail (4.5 km out and back), there are plenty of amazing hikes for all abilities!

Lake Louise - starting point of hike to Lake Agnes Tea House hike

Plain of Six Glaciers

Trailhead: Plain of Six Glaciers Trailhead

Distance: 14.6 km out & back

Elevation Gain: 588 m

Find Fairmont Banff deals with these 9 tips

Beginning as an easy stroll along the shoreline of the world-famous Lake Louise, the Plain of Six Glaciers trail is an incredibly scenic and rewarding hike. The Six Glaciers hike then continues beyond the Lake Louise upwards into a stunning natural mountain amphitheater.

Be sure to stop at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House to marvel at the Lake Louise glaciers while enjoying some coffee and chocolate cake.

Saddleback Pass

Trailhead: Saddleback Pass Trailhead

Distance: 7.4 km out & back

Elevation Gain: 595 m

Many people hiking saddleback pass trail to enjoy the larch trees in September

The Saddleback Pass hike winds its way from the turquoise shores of Lake Louise, up the forested northern slopes of Fairview Mountain to a beautiful open meadow with spectacular views.

If you time it right (late September), the Saddleback Mountain hike is also an excellent opportunity to walk through golden larch trees.

Sheol Valley Hike

Trailhead: The Sheol Valley hike is unusual in a few regards: it’s a one-way trail that connects two separate Lake Louise hiking trails. There is no parking lot for the Sheol Valley Trail. To get to it, you must hike the Saddleback Pass Trail or the Paradise Valley Trail.

Distance: The one-way distance of the Sheol Valley hiking trail is 4.1km.

Want a great larch tree hike in Lake Louise? Try connecting the Sheol Valley hike and the Saddleback Pass Trail

The Sheol Valley hike leads you through some spectacular Rocky Mountain scenery. What else would you expect from a Lake Louise valley created in the space between the majestic foursome of Fairview Mountain, Haddo Peak, Saddle Mountain and Sheol Mountain?

In addition to hiking in the shadow of these Lake Louise mountain peaks, you be treated to towering mountain waterfalls, a hike along a mountain stream and, in season, a great opportunity to hike among larch trees without the massive crowds.

Fairview Lookout

Trailhead: Fairview Lookout Trailhead

Distance:  2 km out-and-back

Elevation:  166 m elevation gain

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel from Fairview Lookout Snowshoe Trail

The Fairview Lookout hike is uphill the entire way, but don’t let that scare you – it’s short. At the end, you have phenomenal views looking down on Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. If you want views down on Lake Louise but don’t have the time for longer hiking trails like the Big Beehive, this is a great alternative!

Lake Agnes Tea House

Trailhead: Lake Agnes Trailhead

Distance: 6.8 km out and back

Elevation: 385 m elevation gain

The Lake Agnes Tea House hike is one of the most popular of the short Lake Louise hikes in Banff National Park. An easy hike up a mountain slope on the north side of Lake Louise, hikers will be rewarded with stops at two stunning mountain lakes: Mirror Lake and Lake Agnes.

A fun tradition is to reward yourself with a treat from the iconic Lake Agnes Tea House.

Big Beehive

Trailhead: Big Beehive Trailhead

Distance: 10 km out and back

Elevation: 520 m elevation gain

A man stands at the Big Beehive Lookout with mountains in the distance

The Big Beehive hike in Lake Louise offers some truly incredible sights. If you have the time and energy after you hike to Lake Agnes, continue on the Big Beehive trail. You’ll enjoy some of the most incredible scenery by hiking the short, but sometimes steep, Big Beehive trail.

Little Beehive

Trailhead: Little Beehive Trailhead

Distance: 8.8 km out and back

Elevation: 490 m elevation gain

Chateau Lake Louise from viewpoint on Little Beehive trail - Banff National Park

The Little Beehive hike at Lake Louise is accessed from the Lake Agnes trail. Once you have stopped and enjoyed a treat from the Lake Agnes Teahouse, you can enjoy some bonus Banff National Park scenery by adding on a short hike on the Little Beehive trail.

Devil’s Thumb

Trailhead: Devil’s Thumb Trailhead

Distance: 12.9 km out & back

Elevation Gain: 883 m

The Devil’s Thumb hike is more of a scramble route than a hike, so you need to be confident in your abilities. It also leaves from the shores of Lake Louise up to Lake Agnes. Your reward will be incredible views of both famous lakes: Lake Louise and Lake Agnes.

There is no signage for this trail, but you’ll follow the Big Beehive trail to start. Make sure to download a Devil’s Thumb trail map prior to heading out!

Mt St. Piran

Trailhead: Mt St. Piran Trailhead

Distance: 13 km out & back

Elevation Gain: 940 m

the Little Beehive trail near Lake Agnes

This trail follows the Little Beehive trail from Lake Agnes. You’ll enjoy even more incredible scenery on this Lake Louise hike! Watch for a faded Parks Canada sign that leads you to turn left about 500 m in on the Little Beehive trail.

Make sure to download a Mt St. Piran trail map prior to heading out.

How to get to Lake Louise hiking trails without a car:

  • Shuttle: The Lake Louise Shuttle leaves from the Lake Louise Ski Resort Park & Ride to Lake Louise (advance tickets required). Even if you have a Moraine Lake Shuttle ticket you can take the Lake Connector shuttle to Lake Louise (included in your ticket).
  • Bus: Roam Route 8X Lake Louise Express and Route 8S Lake Louise Scenic both stop at the Lake Louise lakeshore parking lot. You can make a reservation on either of these Roam routes.

    Route 8X Lake Louise Express operates all year round but they have a summer schedule that runs May 20 to September 18th. Route 8S Lake Louise Scenic runs July 1 to August 31st.

    Also Roam Super Pass holders can also take the Lake Connector shuttle for free. A Super Pass costs $25 for adults (compared to the $10 each way fare for the Lake Louise bus routes 8X and 8S) and allows you to ride any and all Roam Routes in a day. See more on Roam Transit Fares here.
  • Tour:

Moraine Lake Hikes

Moraine Lake hiking trails offer something for everyone. Aside from the easy 3.0 km Moraine Lakeshore Trail and 0.8 km Rockpile trail, here are the best hikes at Moraine Lake:

Moraine Lake in early morning on the way to Sentinel Pass Larch Valley

Consolation Lakes

Trailhead: Consolation Lakes Trailhead

Distance: 7.6 km out and back

Elevation: 329 m elevation gain

Lunch at Consolation Lakes - best Banff hiking trails with kids

The beginning of the hike to Consolation Lakes 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.

This easy Banff hike 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 approximately 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.

Larch Valley

Trailhead: Larch Valley Trailhead

Distance: 8.6 km out and back

Elevation: 535 m elevation gain

Larch Valley Sentinel Pass Hike in Banff

The Larch Valley hike is the most famous larch tree hike in Lake Louise. It’s a bit of an effort to climb from Moraine Lake up the lower slopes of Mount Temple to get to Larch Valley, but the payoff is worth it, no matter the time of year.

Don’t think you should only hike to Larch Valley in September. In the spring and summer, you’ll love the views of the incredible mountains surrounding Moraine Lake as you walk through the pleasant larch forest.

Sentinel Pass

Trailhead: Sentinel Pass Trailhead

Distance: 11.6 km out and back

Elevation: 817 m elevation gain

Sentinel Pass Hike in Banff National Park

For many, the Larch Valley hike ends when they reach the Minnestimma Lakes, but if you still have the time and energy, the Sentinel Pass trail is an extremely fun and rewarding extension to the Larch Valley hike.

The Sentinel Pass trail winds its way up a steep mountain pass in-between Pinnacle Mountain (3,070 m) and Mount Temple (3,544 m). Standing at the Minnestimma Lakes at the bottom of Sentinel Pass, the hiking trail looks like a bolt of lightning – zigging and zagging up the side of these two majestic Lake Louise mountains.

Eiffel Lake

Trailhead: Eiffel Lake Trailhead

Distance: 12 km out and back

Elevation: 609 m elevation gain

The Eiffel Lake hike starts out on the same trail as Larch Valley. Watch for the signs where you’ll deviate from the trail and where it will get much quieter (especially hiking in fall). The hike eventually levels out and offers incredible views of the ten peaks.

How to get to Moraine Lake without a car:

  • Shuttle: The Moraine Lake shuttle leaves from the Lake Louise Ski Resort Park & Ride to Moraine Lake (advance tickets required). Even if you have a Lake Louise Shuttle ticket you can take the Lake Connector shuttle to Moraine Lake (included in your ticket).
  • Bus: Roam Route 10 Moraine Lake Express operates September 19 to October 10 for Banff Larch Hikes.

    In June, July and August (when Moraine Lake is open) you can take the Lake Louise 8S or 8X routes to Lake Louise then get on the Lake Connector Shuttle if you purchase a Roam Super Pass. Also Roam Super Pass holders can also take the Lake Connector shuttle for free. A Super Pass costs $25 for adults (compared to the $10 each way fare for the Lake Louise bus routes 8X and 8S) and allows you to ride any and all Roam Routes in a day. See more on Roam Transit Fares here.
  • Tour:
    • WowBanff Moraine Lake Shuttle operates Thursdays through Sunday starting June 1. Stops include Lake Louise Ski Resort, Lake Louise Village at Post Hotel and Moraine Lake.
    • HopOnBanff bus runs June 10 to September 25th and makes a stop at Moraine Lake.
    • Discover Banff Tours offers guided hikes to Larch Valley and Consolation Lakes

Norquay Hikes

Cascade Amphitheatre

Trailhead: Cascade Amphitheatre Trailhead

Distance: 12.8 km out and back

Elevation: 885 m elevation gain

The effort required on the hard Banff snowshoe trail up Cascade Mountain is all worth it

The beginning of the Cascade Amphitheatre trail starts out easy, but don’t get too comfortable. You’ll be climbing soon enough! Once you pass over the bridge at the 40 Mile Creek (which offers some impressive views), you’ll start climbing up. Eventually, you’ll begin the switchbacks, but it will all be worth it when you enter the Cascade Amphitheatre!

Stoney Lookout

Trailhead:  Stoney Lookout trailhead

Distance:  4.6 km loop

Elevation:  246m elevation gain

view from Upper Stoney Lookout in Banff National Park

The Stoney Lookout hike is a short, easy hike in Banff. Sure the climb in the first half will get your heart pumping, but once you reach the top then it’s all downhill.

This hike is predominantly in the trees, but you will get some nice views of Cascade Mountain and down the valley at the top.

Via Ferrata

We understand that this isn’t a hike, but we love that you can enjoy this assisted climbing experience without needing a car. We felt it was worth including!

The Norquay chairlift offers some incredible views on your way up to the Via Ferrata!

Mt Norquay Chairlift with view of Mt Rundle and Town of Banff in distance

How to get to Norquay Ski Resort without a car:

  • Shuttle: From June 11th to October 9th, Norquay operates a free shuttle from Banff to Norquay. See schedule and stops here.
  • Tour: Starting June 1st, the WowBanff Jump On Jump Off tour bus stops at Mt Norquay. This is available on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays only.

Trail Conditions for Banff Hikes

The best place to check trail conditions for hiking in Banff is on the Parks Canada trail conditions page. This page is updated with both closures and trail conditions.

This is especially important in early spring, when there are still several areas that are prone to avalanche danger.

Please always check Banff hiking trail conditions before heading out.

Packing for Hiking in Banff

The weather in Banff can be quite unpredictable. Here’s a short list of what we recommend packing for hiking in Banff:

  • Bear Spray
  • Backpack with a water reservoir for plenty of water
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses
  • Hiking shoes or boots
  • Layers (including a warm hoodie and a rain jacket)
  • Plenty of food or snacks
  • Power bank
  • First Aid Kit
  • Camera
  • Insect Repellant
  • Garbage bag (leave no trace)
  • Banff Park Pass

While we recognize that it would be nearly impossible for Parks Canada to check everyone that comes to Banff for their Banff Park Pass, it is still required (even if you don’t drive into the park). It’s very likely you’ll come to Banff and never get checked. Please keep in mind that the money from the Banff passes goes back into Banff National Park which help to maintain the scenic parkways, trails, and day use areas we love so much!

We share all the details about the Banff National Park Pass here.

Getting to Banff National Park

You’ll notice that most of the hikes above have public transportation routes or tours that leave from the town of Banff. If you aren’t staying in Banff, you still need to get to Banff.

Staying in one of the best Canmore hotels is a popular option for many. Rest assured that you can get from Canmore to Banff fairly easily! The Roam Route 3 Canmore to Banff bus can get you to Banff in nearly the same amount of time it would take you to drive.

Even for those traveling from Calgary, there are plenty of ways to get from Calgary to Banff without renting a car.

Where to Stay in Banff National Park

The best places to stay in Banff National Park when you are visiting with a car are centrally located accommodations that are close to the Banff High School Transit Hub.

Find even more of the best hotels in Banff for visiting without a car here.

Moose Hotel & Suites

The Moose Hotel covered in a blanket of snow

The Moose Hotel & Suites offers guests complimentary Banff Roam passes! It’s only a three-minute walk from the Banff High School Transit hub.

See location, availability and rates for Moose Hotel & Suites on Booking.com.

Banff Aspen Lodge

The Banff Aspen Lodge in Banff National Park

Banff Aspen Lodge is also only a 3-minute walk along Banff Avenue to the Banff High School Transit hub.

See location, availability and rates for Banff Aspen Lodge on Booking.com

Banff Ptarmigan Inn

The Banff Ptarmigan Inn in winter

Also conveniently located on Banff Avenue, the Banff Ptarmigan Inn offers free transit passes, free breakfast, a steam room and two hot tubs. Bike rentals are also available.

See location, availability and rates for Banff Ptarmigan Inn on Booking.com.

Found this post useful? Save it or share it with your friends!

Banff National Park Hikes Without a Car. You can reach a remarkable number of Banff Hikes without a car. In this post we share the best hikes in Banff PLUS the easiest way to get there if you haven't rented a car for Banff.