Five major trails branch off the Bow Valley Parkway, while there are two outstanding options along Hwy-1.

Bow Valley Parkway

The best short walk is the Johnston Canyon Trail (2.7km each way), 25km from Banff, an incredibly engineered path to a series of spray-veiled waterfalls. The Lower Falls are 1.1km, the Upper Falls 2.7km from the trailhead on the Parkway. From the Upper Falls you can continue on to the seven cold-water springs of the Ink Pots, which emerge in pretty open meadows, to make a total distance of 5.8km (215m ascent; 4hr return).

Another short possibility is the Castle Crags Trail (3.7km each way; 520m ascent from the signed turn-off 5km west of Castle Junction). Short but steep, and above the tree-line, this walk offers superb views across the Bow Valley and the mountains beyond. Allow ninety minutes one-way to take account of the stiff climb.

The best day-hike is to Rockbound Lake (8.4km each way), a steepish climb to 2210m with wild lakeland scenery at the end; allow at least two and a half hours one-way, due to the 760m ascent. Another fifteen minutes’ walk beyond Rockbound and Tower lakes at the end of the trail lies the beautiful Silverton waterfall. The other Parkway trails – Baker Creek (20.3km) and Pulsatilla Pass (17.1km) – serve to link backcountry hikers with the dense network of paths in the Slate Range northeast of Lake Louise.

Highway 1

The trek to Bourgeau Lake (7.5km one way) is considered by many to be among the top five day-hikes in Banff; it starts from a parking area 10km west of Banff – allow two and a half to three hours for the 725m ascent. The second is the long day-hike to Shadow Lake (14.3km each way), where the lakeside campground (at 1840m), in an impressive subalpine basin, gives access to assorted onward trails; the main trail starts from the Redearth Creek parking area 20km west of Banff – allow four hours for the 440m ascent.

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