Banff National Park is a hiker’s paradise, but not everyone is up for a challenging hike or multi-day trek.
That’s why I’ve put together this list of the 27 best easy hikes in Banff National Park that are perfect for just about anyone of any age.
Whether you’re a beginner hiker, traveling with kids, or just looking for a leisurely stroll, there are plenty of trails and walks in Banff to do.
If you’re short on time, don’t worry – many of these are short hikes in Banff that can be completed in under an hour, making them ideal for a quick activity before or after other sightseeing.
The following easy trails range from lakeside walks to mountain viewpoints, and all offer those stunning mountain views that Banff is so famous for.
Written by Lou
Easy Hiking + Walking Trails In Banff
1. Cascade Gardens of Time
The Cascade Gardens are a beautiful place to visit and it’s such an easy stroll just minutes from town.
The gardens are on the ground of the historic Parks Canada Administration Office and have stunning views of Cascade Mountain in the backdrop whilst looking directly down Banff Avenue.
This isn’t a hike by any means, but a gentle through the gardens where you’ll be hit by the vibrant colors and fragrances of the various flowers and plants.
The winding paths lead you through a carefully curated landscape, showcasing a mix of native and exotic species.
As you continue you’ll come across charming little waterfalls, water features, and tranquil ponds (remember your bug spray), adding to the peaceful ambiance of the gardens.
I love coming here in the summer months and just sitting on one of the benches and taking in the beauty of the gardens.
It’s an ideal walk for everyone.
2. Bow River Trail + Bow Falls Viewpoint
This is one of the most popular walking trails and one of my favorites in Banff.
It’s easily accessible and can be walked to from downtown.
The length of the trail varies depending on the section you choose to explore. It offers different access points, and you can customize the distance you want to cover.
While the trail can be started at Central Park, we usually start it by hopping across the road to Glen Avenue after visiting Cascade Gardens.
The trail is paved and flat except for the inclines with stairs it’s mostly tree-lined so it’s a great way to stay in the shade during the summer in Banff.
The Bow River Trail offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and the roaring Bow River.
Along the trail, you’ll find plenty of benches where you can sit and just take in the scenery.
When you’re at the bottom of the steps to Bow Falls, make sure you turn left as there’s a small viewing area where you can get some great pictures of the thundering falls.
Once you have viewed the falls near the parking lot, walk along the road to the Fairmont Banff Springs golf course for more scenic views and chances to see wildlife, such as Elk.
I highly recommend walking to the Banff Springs Fairmont Hotel and getting a drink and sitting on the patio for a drink, as the views across the golf course and mountains are unbelievably stunning.
3. Fenland Trail
The interpretive Fenland Trail loops through a forest of spruce trees along the banks of Forty Mile Creek.
This hidden gem which is often overlooked by visitors is located just a few minutes from the Banff townsite and offers a peaceful escape into nature.
As there is no elevation gain, most of the walk is flat, making it easy and enjoyable for everyone.
But it does get muddy here and in places the tree roots can cause a bit of a bumpy ride for a kid in a stroller, but overall it’s an easy walk.
As you walk along the trail and through the trees you might spot some wildlife, like beavers, muskrats, deer, elk, and bears, so have your bear spray with you.
Mosquitos are a pain in the backside here in the summer months, so bring some bug spray as well.
This is a lovely walk and there are several benches along the way, providing the perfect spot to sit and take in the scenery.
You can also get to Vermillion Lakes Drive from this trail.
4. Vermilion Lakes
To get to the lakes you can drive 2.4 km (1.5 miles) west on Vermilion Lakes Drive or take the scenic walk or bike ride from the Fenlands Trailhead near Banff Recreation Centre as mentioned above.
The best part of this walk is when you see the reflections of Mount Rundle and the sky on the calm waters of the lakes, making for some of the most picturesque views in Banff.
The paved trail is also a popular spot for wildlife sightings including elk, deer, and various bird species. There are benches along the way, making it a great spot for a relaxing lunch or snack.
Sit on the small wooden pier/jetty and watch a memorable sunrise and sunset because Vermilion Lakes is one of the best spots to see them in the whole of the park.
This is a popular spot for stargazing and if you’re lucky, you might also get to see the northern lights from here. I recommend coming here to watch the sunset over the mountains.
So if you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable hike that’s close to downtown Banff, then the Fenland Trail + Vermilion Lakes is the perfect choice.
5. Cave & Basin National Historic Site + Marsh Loop Trail
One of the best ways to experience the Cave and Basin Historic Site is by combining it with this hike on the nearby Marsh Loop Trail.
This easy trail is flat and has boardwalks that take you through a beautiful wetland area with stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
The trail is well-maintained and easy to follow, where you’ll see different types of plants and animals (especially elk) that can be found in the area.
The Marsh Loop Trail is suitable for everyone and is a great way to appreciate the natural beauty of Banff National Park without having to travel too far from the downtown area.
6. Sundance Canyon Trail
Start by following the paved trail past the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, where you’ll soon see the stunning mountain views across the Bow River.
As you continue on, the trail will gradually become more of a moderate hike and eventually lead you into the water-filled canyon.
The trailhead is marked with a sign that leads you into the forest along the Bow River. The trail follows the river, passing by a few wooden bridges along the way, before arriving at the entrance of Sundance Canyon.
Once inside the canyon, you can walk alongside the river, explore the magnificent canyon walls that surround you, and see the various rock formations that the water has carved over time.
There are also several picnic areas and benches available for visitors to enjoy the stunning scenery.
The trail eventually loops back to the starting point, providing a beautiful and scenic journey through the natural oasis of Sundance Canyon.
7. Tunnel Mountain Hike
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a popular Banff hike and is perfect if you’re looking for a shorter and less strenuous hike.
The trailhead is located on the edge of the town of Banff and is easily accessible by foot or car.
The hike starts off with switchbacks through a wooded area, but as you climb higher, the trees begin to thin out.
At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with views of the Banff townsite, Bow River, and the surrounding mountains.
The view is stunning, and it’s the perfect spot for a picnic lunch or a quick break before heading back down.
The trail is well-maintained and is used by people of all ages and fitness levels.
This is a very popular hike in the summer and fall, so it’s best to do this hike early morning or later in the afternoon.
8. Tunnel Mountain Hoodoos Trail
This starts at Surprise Corner and is another popular Banff hike located just outside of town (here’s a trail map) where you’ll get fantastic views of the Bow River and the impressive Banff Springs Hotel.
The highlight of this trail is the hoodoos themselves, fascinating rock formations created by erosion that appear up and down throughout the landscape.
You’ll have plenty of photo opportunities along the well-maintained trail and is a great way to spend a couple of hours when visiting Banff National Park.
9. Cascade Ponds
This is a great place to come for a gentle hike and if you want to make a morning or afternoon of it, I recommend bringing some food and having a BBQ or picnic – a good option if you’re looking for cheap things to do in Banff.
There are plenty of tables and firepits but it does get busy, especially at weekends.
The trail around Cascade Ponds is mostly flat and well-maintained, making it accessible for hikers of all levels.
Along the way, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Cascade Mountain and Mount Rundle.
The highlight of this hike, of course, is the gorgeous turquoise-colored ponds themselves.
In the summer you can take a break and dip your feet in the cool water or if you’re in Banff in the winter, then this is a fantastic area to go snowshoeing.
It gets really busy here in the summer months, especially on public holidays and parking is a bit of a nightmare as there isn’t much space.
10. Bankhead Ghost Town
The Lower Bankhead trail in Banff is a must-do hike for anyone interested in history and the outdoors.
The trail is a short 1.0 km or so loop that takes you through the remains of an old coal-mining town from the early 1900s.
The trailhead is easy to find, located about 10 minutes from the town of Banff.
Once you park, head towards the interpretive sign and follow the trail down to begin your stroll around this ghost town.
It’s an easy walk, but there are a set of steep steps so it might be a bit of a challenge for those with mobility issues.
Otherwise, it’s a great option for families with kids or if you just want a shorter hike.
Along the way, you’ll see interpretive signs that provide information about the history of the town and the people who lived and worked there.
There were also beautiful views of the mountains (of course!) and it doesn’t get too crowded, unlike some of the other easy hikes in Banff.
11. Stewart Canyon
Hiking time: 1.5 – 2 hours
Trail length: 3 km (1.9 miles) out and back
Elevation gain: minimal
Distance from downtown Banff: 10 km (6.2 miles)
Location: Lake Minnewanka Day-use area (Directions)
The pedestrian bridge crossing over the Cascade River at Stewart Canyon can be accessed by following the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka and the Cascade River.
It’s an easy walk through the forest and along a flat, dirt, and gravel pathway where you’ll likely see other hikers on this route.
Along the way, you can stop at one of the many viewpoints and look at the spectacular views of the lake and mountains around you.
At the end of the trail, there is a bridge where you get stunning views of Stewart Canyon and the steep canyon walls.
You can hike further but the terrain becomes more challenging and I recommend only attempting it if you’re an experienced hiker.
Also keep in mind that there are seasonal trail restrictions in the Lake Minnewanka area from July 10 to September 15, which means there must be a minimum of 4 people in your hiking group, and dogs are not allowed past the Stewart Canyon bridge.
12. Johnson Lake
The Johnson Lake hike is one of the easiest in the park. It’s family-friendly and a great place to take your dog for a long walk. Our dog loves it here.
From the parking lot, you can go left or right. Both ways offer great scenery with views of Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain, a walk through a forest, and over a small creek on a charming wooden bridge.
As well as a walk around the lake, you can have a picnic on the shore.
One thing to keep in mind is that Johnson Lake is a popular spot in the summer, so it can be busy during peak season.
You’ll see lots of people in the lake either cooling off or floating around on a kayak.
13. Stewart Canyon at Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka is a popular area to visit for many reasons, such as hiking, fishing, or the lake cruise.
One of the most popular hikes from the lake is Stewart Canyon because it’s an easy hike that follows the shoreline and has great views.
The first section of the trail from the day-use area is relatively flat and meanders through a forest.
You’ll eventually come to the wooden bridge overlooking the canyon where you can take a break and enjoy the views before retracing your steps back to the trailhead.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue on the trail but it gets more challenging.
14. Two Jack Lake
The Two Jack Lake trail is a picturesque and easy hike suitable for all levels of hikers. You’ll see stunning views and reflections of Mount Rundle on the calm water.
The trail is well-marked and maintained and follows the lakeshore.
This hike is easily accessible from the nearby parking lot, but it does fill up quickly in the summer months, so if you’re coming later in the day, then I suggest getting the Route 6 Lake Minnewanka Roam bus here.
There are plenty of picnic spots and benches to take in the natural beauty.
15. Sunshine Meadows Hike
To get to Sunshine Meadows, you’ll have to take the Gondola to the Standish Chair, and then the Standish Chair to the Standish Viewing Deck, which is a short 1.6 km (1 mile) return with a slight elevation.
If you want to stay, and you might as well as this is a beautiful location, then from the viewing deck you can get to the Twin Cairns Junctions trail via the steps.
From there hike to the Rock Isle Lake Lookout before returning to the Gondola via the Rock Isle Road, or walk back to the Standish Viewpoint and go back down in the chairlift.
There are so many trails here, including more challenging ones such as the Grizzly Lake and Laryx Lake trails, and they all such magnificent views and make good day hikes.
You can pick up trail maps at Sunshine Village to find out what other hikes you might want to do here.
16. Johnston Canyon Hike to Lower/Upper Falls/Ink Pots
The trail to lower falls is more of a leisurely walk than a hike as you follow the creek until you reach the Lower Falls.
The canyon walls are quite impressive here, and you’ll walk through these along the suspended iron walkways.
The trail then continues on to the Upper Falls, where you can enjoy the view of the powerful water cascading down.
It’s a great spot for photography and an easy hike to do with kids and it’s a dog friendly hike.
If you want to continue on, the Ink Pots trail offers a more moderate 5 km (3 miles) hike to the six natural pools, known as the Ink Pots.
This gets extremely busy here, especially in the summer season, so get here early in the morning as the parking lot fills up quickly. Take it from me, it’s really frustrating trying to find a parking space here when you just want to get out and hike.
This is a year-round trail and is also popular in winter, but it gets icy so wear cleats as parts of the trail are slippery. We’ve seen several people slip over on various parts of the trail to the lower falls.
17. Silverton Falls Trail
The hike to the 50 m high Silverton Falls begins at the above parking lot and leads you through a forest.
At the junction take the right-hand trail which becomes narrower as you make your way to the creek.
The trail is well-marked with signs. It can be rocky and root-strewn in parts, so hiking boots are recommended.
From the creek, you have an uphill trek where the forest opens up to the waterfall.
At the trail’s end, you’re rewarded with the sight of Silverton Falls tumbling over the rugged cliffside.
This trail is not as well-known as others in Banff, so if you want a hike where you won’t often see lots of others on the trail, this is the ideal one. offers a peaceful, scenic hiking experience.
Easy Lake Louise Hikes
18. Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail
Starting at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, the trail follows the shoreline of the lake and offers a variety of vantage points to take in the scenery.
The trail is flat and accessible to everyone, so this hike is more like a leisurely stroll.
You can walk to the end of the trail and marvel at Victoria Glacier and see what is described as a milky creek, which is where the glacier’s meltwater feeds into.
The meltwater contains rock flour and this is what gives Lake Louise that beautiful turquoise color that it’s famous for.
From this point, you can see the hotel at the other end of the lake and see canoes gliding on the crystal-clear water.
Keep an eye out for wildlife too, as this area is known for sightings of grizzly bears, elk, and more.
As you can imagine, Lake Louise has millions of visitors every year, so it gets crazy busy and parking is a serious problem, so you’re better off taking a Roam transit bus or booking a Parks Canada shuttle.
19. Fairview Lookout
This short, uphill hike offers stunning views of both Lake Louise and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hotel from the viewing platform.
With only a moderate elevation gain, this is an ideal trail if you’re a beginner or just looking to take in some breathtaking scenery.
Part way up you’ll find yourself on one of the many scenic viewpoints where you can appreciate the grandeur of the lake and its surrounding peaks.
At the top of the trail, you’ll find yourself at Fairview Lookout where you can take in the incredible views of Lake Louise and its mountainous surroundings.
See above for parking information.
20. Lake Agnes Teahouse
These hikes are somewhere in between easy and moderate as although the trail itself is a gradual incline, there are a few steeper sections that might make you breathe a little heavier depending on your fitness level, but it’s definitely worth the effort.
The forested trail to Lake Agnes is well-maintained and easy to follow, and you’ll see hikers of all ages and skill levels on this route.
On the way up, you’ll see stunning views of Lake Louise, Mirror Lake, and the surrounding mountains as well as wildflowers, a stream, and even a waterfall – this is such a picturesque hike.
The highlight of the hike is the Lake Agnes Tea House (open June 4 to October 10), a historic tea house that has been serving hikers since 1905.
The tea house offers a variety of snacks and beverages, including their famous homemade tea and fresh baked goods. Be sure to bring cash, as the tea house does not accept credit cards.
21. Little Beehive
Little Beehive, once used as a fire lookout, is only another 1 km (0.6 miles) hike from Lake Agnes and is in between an easy to moderate hike.
The stunning views of Lake Louise and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking, making this popular hike one of the most picturesque and rewarding in Banff.
So once you’ve rested at the tea house, continue on the side trail to Little Beehive which is well-marked and takes you through forested areas.
Along the way, you’ll have views of Mirror Lake, Lake Louise, the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel, Big Beehive, and Mt. Fairview. The hike down offers equally beautiful scenery.
There’s even a plaque that commemorates the early mountaineers who first reached the peak in 1894.
It is important to carry all necessary hiking gear, like ice cleats in winter or bear spray in summer, based on season-specific needs.
22. Moraine Lake Shoreline
The Moraine Lake hike is one of the most popular trails in the area, and once you arrive you can start the stunning hike (which is actually more of a walk) near the Moraine Lake Lodge.
To get to the starting point of the hike, visitors used to be able to drive along Moraine Lake Road, but Parks Canada closed off the road to private vehicles in 2023.
It’s easy to see why this trail is so popular as you follow the shoreline trail and enjoy the breathtaking views of its clear blue waters, waterfalls, and the Valley of the Ten Peaks.
So, if Moraine Lake is on your list, make sure to plan ahead and take the shuttle provided by Parks Canada.
23. Consolation Lakes Trail
The Consolation Lakes Hike is a stunning hiking trail with the trailhead accessed at Moraine Lake.
If you’re looking for something that is more challenging than the Lakeshore Trail, this is a great option as it has some steeper sections and rocky terrain, but the breathtaking views of the turquoise lakes and surrounding mountains make it well worth the effort.
The trail climbs briefly over a rock pile and a few rocky sections under the Tower of Babel but the terrain is generally easy to navigate. If you have kids, they’ll love climbing over the rocks.
The trail then winds through a forest before reaching Babel Creek.
There is another rockfall area once you get to the lake and once you’ve made your way over the rocks, you get to see the stunning crystal-clear lake with an impressive mountain backdrop.
The hike is easy, with some steeper sections and rocky terrain, but the breathtaking views of the turquoise lakes and surrounding mountains make it well worth the effort.
From here you can turn around and hike to the second of the Consolation Lakes, but this is only recommended if you want to add a bit more distance and difficulty to your hike.
Easy Icefields Parkways
24. Bow Lake Trail
The Bow Lake Trail is a super easy and enjoyable trail right alongside the lake that’s perfect for beginners or if you just want a leisurely stroll in the beautiful Canadian Rockies.
The trailhead is located just off the Icefields Parkway at the Bow Lake Parking Lot, so it’s worthwhile stopping off here as the path follows the shores of Bow Lake, offering stunning views of the turquoise waters and surrounding mountains.
Along the way, you’ll pass The Lodge, formerly Num-Ti-Jah, and see views of Crowfoot Mountain and Mount Jimmy Simpson, who founded the lodge many years ago.
This walkable trail ends when you get to the stairs unless you want to do a more challenging hike and continue onto either Bow Hut or Bow Glacier Falls.
There are fantastic views in every direction and it’s wheelchair accessible. The only downside is that it gets busy here, so try and get here early in the morning.
25. Peyto Lake Viewpoint
A further 4 minute drive from Bow Lake on the Icefield’s Parkway is the trail to one of the Rockies’ most beautiful lakes, Peyto Lake (pronounced pea-toe).
The trailhead starts at the lower parking lot, wheelchair access is available from the upper parking lot.
The hike itself is easy and requires minimal effort.
When you arrive at the viewpoint, you’ll be rewarded with a view that goes beyond words.
You’ll have amazing views of the turquoise, glacier-fed Peyto Lake, Peyto Glacier, and the Mistaya Valley as you make your way around the loop.
This is a perfect trail for families with young children or those just looking for some easy hiking.
26. Mistaya Canyon
It’s an easy walk downhill from the parking lot as you follow the path along against the vast mountain backdrop, you can already hear the roar of cascading rapids.
Soon enough you will arrive at a bridge overhanging Mistaya River where you can see the Mistaya River rushing through below.
I mentioned in my pet friendly hikes article that there is a lack of barriers here, so be careful if you take your pet or small children with you.
27. Chephren Lake
Chephren Lake (pronounced kef-ren) is another lake along the Icefields Parkway.
Make your way across the bridge over the Mistaya River, then through the forest for 1.5 km until you get to a junction.
Cirque Lake can be reached by taking the left-hand trail, and Chephren Lake via the right-hand side trail to reach Chephren Lake.
The trail is often muddy which can be a downside to this hike. There are other lakes that are easier to get to and have more scenic routes, but Chephren Lake is still a great option if you are along the Icefields Parkway.
Easy Hiking Trails in Banff
There you have it, I hope this article has inspired you to try some of these easy hikes around Banff when you visit.
If you’ve done any of these hikes, or if you know of any other easy Banff hikes that aren’t on this list, let us know on our Facebook page, and don’t forget to include some pics of your adventure!
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