Banff National Park offers some of the most stunning trails and day hikes. If you’re a backpacker trying to make your dollars last the good news is, they are free! All you need is some good shoes, and to pack some water and food for the day….. and just in case maybe some bear spray.

Its best to wait till late June to take on some of these trails, any earlier and the trails tend to be muddy and you may run into some snow.

With many trails ranging from Easy to Difficult we have listed some of our favourites.

Johnson Lake – Easy

Length: 3 km loop
Hiking time: 1 hour
Elevation gain: minimal
Trailhead: Johnson Lake day-use area, off Lake Minnewanka Road.

Description: Walking in a counter-clockwise direction, the trail winds through a lush montane forest before emerging at the far end of Johnson Lake. From this point, views extend across the water to the distinctive profile of Cascade Mountain. To complete the circuit around the lake, the trail crosses open slopes, passes some of Alberta’s oldest Douglas fir trees, and detours around a shallow bay where waterfowl are often sighted.

Stewart Canyon – Easy

Length: 1.5 km, one way
Hiking time: 40 minute round trip
Elevation gain: no elevation gain
Trailhead: Lake Minnewanka day-use area, off Lake Minnewanka Road

Description: From the day-use area, follow the Lake Minnewanka shoreline to the Stewart Canyon trailhead kiosk. This low-elevation trail leads to a bridge spanning the smooth walls of Stewart Canyon, through which the Cascade River flows into Lake Minnewanka. But there’s no rush to reach the canyon—along the way are pebbly beaches strewn with driftwood and a number of enticing picnic spots.

Healy Pass – Moderate

Length: 9 km one way
Hiking time: 6 to 7 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 655 m
Trailhead: Sunshine Village parking lot behind the main gondola station

Description: This trail follows sparkling Healy Creek to its source amid open meadows above the treeline. Wildflowers bloom profusely from mid-July to late August, and in late September scattered alpine larch turn a magnificent golden yellow.

Cory Pass Loop – Difficult

Length: 13 km loop
Hiking time: 6 hour round trip
Elevation gain: 915 m
Trailhead: Fireside day-use area, off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy 1A)

Description: The strenuous uphill trek to Cory Pass from the Bow Valley Parkway takes around two hours. It is worthwhile for the unobstructed view of Mount Louis, an imposing limestone monolith that rises from the forested valley floor far below. Rather than returning to the trailhead from the pass, energetic hikers have the option of descending into the Gargoyle Valley before returning to their vehicles via Edith Pass. Route finding can be challenging beyond Cory Pass.

Find More Great Trails at Parks Canada