Hiking is one of my favourite activities as you may or may not have guessed from my previous posts. This past year or so has given me some of the best hiking opportunities ever. Popping on my boots before heading out into the stunning Rocky Mountains is the best feeling as you know its going to provide some fantastic views. However, for me having the confidence to hike in an environment where wildlife is King and a bear, moose or wolf can rear its head at any point, has been something that I’ve had to build on over time.
In order to become more confident walking through the mountains I started off on some of the easier hikes in the Rockies. These hikes tend to be a bit shorter and well-travelled, giving even the most anxious hiker a bit of comfort. However, that does not mean that these hikes are any less beautiful. So, whether you are just getting into hiking or just fancy a shorter hike here are my favourite beginner hikes in the Rocky Mountains, Canada.
Distance: 2.7km to Upper Falls 5.8km to Ink Pots Elevation Gain: 215m
Johnston Canyon is a brilliant all-year round hike. In the winter months, put on your ice cleats and witness the frozen waterfalls on the well-travelled path. Along the way you’ll find several hand rails and viewing platforms, where you can often see ice climbers scaling the ice-covered canyon walls.
During the summer months head out early as this is a super popular trail and can get very busy. However, when there is less ice on the ground you can extend the hike up to the fascinating ink pots where the crowds tend to thin out.
Distance: 4km Elevation Gain: 225m
Grotto Canyon is a great alternative to climbing a mountain. Instead of aiming for a viewpoint this Canyon trail winds along a creek bed and has several surprises along the way. We hiked this one in June, so the creek bed was dry in some places making it a simpler walk.
As you do meander along you’ll come across some faint ancient pictographs but pay attention as these are incredibly easy to miss. I only spotted them on our return. There is also a waterfall, hoodoos and a cave to keep you interested along the way. Depending on the season you may also see some wild flowers!
Distance: 4.3km Elevation Gain: 300m
This one by far gives the best views for the least effort! It’s easy to see why Tunnel Mountain is one of the most popular hikes in Banff. The start is a little steep as the trail switches back and forth up the mountain however it does even out towards the top.
Furthermore, there are excellent views even before you reach the summit. Once you reach the peak you’ll have the town of Banff below you and views of the Rockies as far as the eyes can see.
Distance: 3.4km Elevation Gain: 150m
This was one of my favourite winter trails as its so peaceful and does truly look like a winter wonderland. It’s a slow and steady pathway which gives you stunning views across Kananaskis Valley before you come to Troll Fall itself.
Due to the slight incline the trail is often used by cross country skiers, snow-shoers and fat tire cyclists in the snow. The whole walk will make you feel like Elsa from Frozen!
Distance: 3.6km (Teahouse) 14.6km (to include Beehives) Elevation: 400m
There are loads of trails you can take from Lake Louise. You can walk along the shoreline of the gorgeous turquoise lake or you can head you to the famous Teahouse. Both are a great walk but you do get better views heading on to the Teahouse. Along the way you’ll see waterfalls and Mirror Lake before being able to stop for a cuppa at Lake Agnes. If you are feeling energetic head on up to the Big Beehive or Little Beehive too.
Lake Louise is frozen for most of the year, which is just as stunning as when it is all blue. When we went during the winter we walked along the shoreline trail and then back across the lake itself. Ice skating is often available on the lake during the winter months. But do check it is safe to go on the ice before attempting to cross the lake.
Distance: 3.8km Elevation Gain: 200m
Grassi Lakes is a great trail for all the family. You can choose between two routes; an easy route up a gravel path that rises gently or a more difficult route through the forest with a small scramble at the top. Naturally Matt chose the more difficult route, but it definitely had the better views. As it started raining we chose to take the easier route back down.
You pass a beautiful waterfall and views of Canmore before reaching two gorgeous lakes. The colours are truly spectacular. The top of Grassi Lakes is popular with rock climbers but if you look carefully you may also see the owls that nest there. You do have to look hard though as they are extremely well camouflaged! I’d never seen a wild owl before, so I was super excited to spot them.
What is your favourite hike in the mountains? Do you prefer a short hike or an all-day trek?