Must-Do Hikes in Alberta and British Columbia

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Ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure? Imagine exploring the most stunning landscapes in Canada, where turquoise lakes, towering glaciers, and majestic waterfalls await you.

Picture starting your day at the tranquil Lake Louise, surrounded by lush forests, or navigating the dramatic canyons and waterfalls of Johnston Canyon. Envision yourself marveling at the depths of Maligne Canyon or experiencing the thrill of the Skyline Trail. These parks offer not just visual spectacles but also rich stories of history and natural marvels.

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada

Author : Esther Lee –

Whether you seek a peaceful walk around Emerald Lake or an exhilarating trek up the Iceline Trail, Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks have it all. The unique geological formations, vibrant wildlife, and diverse terrains offer endless exploration opportunities. Don’t miss the chance to see the ancient fossils of the Burgess Shale or relax at the historic Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse.

Banff National Park, Alberta

Key Trails

Begin your journey at the beautiful Lake Louise. The bright turquoise waters and the lush forests around make a perfect start. The trail is easy to follow, offering a smooth and enjoyable beginning to your hike.

  • Climbing Towards the Glaciers: As you climb higher, the views become even more amazing. You’ll see huge glaciers shining in the sun and feel the cool mountain air. The trail can be rocky and steep at times, but the stunning scenery makes it worth the effort.
  • Arriving at the Teahouse: The highlight of this hike is the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse. Built in the 1920s, this cozy spot offers a place to rest and enjoy some tea and snacks. The views from here are spectacular, with majestic mountains all around.
  • Trail Details: This hike is about 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) round trip and is moderately difficult. It usually takes 4 to 6 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how long you stop to enjoy the views. It’s perfect for those who want to experience the Rockies without a strenuous climb.

Johnston Canyon

  • Family-Friendly Hike: Johnston Canyon is great for families and beginners. The trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, with sturdy walkways that guide you along the canyon walls. It’s a safe and exciting way to explore Banff National Park.
  • Waterfalls and Scenic Views: This trail features stunning waterfalls and dramatic canyon scenery. The Lower Falls can be reached after a short 1.1-kilometer (0.7 miles) walk. If you continue for another 1.6 kilometers (1 mile), you’ll reach the impressive Upper Falls. These waterfalls are truly captivating and worth the hike.
  • Exploring Further to the Ink Pots: For those seeking more adventure, extend your hike to the Ink Pots. These beautiful spring-fed pools have vibrant colors and are set in a peaceful meadow. This extension adds about 3 kilometers (1.9 miles) each way, making the entire hike around 4 to 5 hours long.
  • Trail Overview: The hike to the Upper Falls and back takes about 2 to 3 hours. Adding the Ink Pots extends it to around 4 to 5 hours. This trail offers a perfect half-day outing that showcases the natural beauty of Banff.
Johnston Canyon

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Highlights of Banff National Park

  • Stunning Glacial Lakes: Banff National Park is known for its clear glacial lakes. Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are two of the most famous, with their striking blue-green waters contrasting beautifully with the surrounding peaks and forests.
  • Wildlife Encounters: The park is home to a variety of wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, deer, and many bird species. Seeing these amazing animals in their natural habitat adds an exciting element to your hiking experience.
  • Magnificent Mountain Views: The Canadian Rockies offer some of the most breathtaking mountain vistas in the world. Whether you’re looking up at the towering peaks from the valley floor or enjoying panoramic views from higher up, the scenery is always spectacular.

Jasper National Park, Alberta

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon is one of the must-see trails in Jasper National Park. This easy-to-moderate trail is suitable for all levels of hikers. It follows the deepest canyon in the Canadian Rockies, offering a journey through amazing natural beauty.

Exploring the Canyon

As you walk along the well-kept path, you’ll see impressive waterfalls cascading down the canyon walls. The sound of rushing water adds to the peaceful atmosphere. Several bridges along the trail provide great viewpoints of these waterfalls.

Fossils and Rock Formations

The trail also displays interesting fossils embedded in the canyon walls. These ancient remains tell the story of the area’s geological past. The rock formations are equally fascinating, with layers of limestone and other minerals creating unique patterns and shapes.

Trail Details

The Maligne Canyon trail is about 7.4 kilometers (4.6 miles) round trip if you explore all six bridges. It can take 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on how often you stop to admire the views. This trail is perfect for a relaxing hike with plenty of chances to take photos and enjoy the surroundings.

Skyline Trail

The Skyline Trail is one of Jasper National Park’s most famous hikes. It is best for experienced hikers looking for a multi-day adventure. This trail offers unmatched views as it takes you above the treeline for much of the hike.

The Skyline Trail offers a sense of solitude and immersion in nature. As you hike, you’ll enjoy stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. Being above the treeline gives you a unique perspective and a sense of peace.

The trail covers about 44 kilometers (27 miles) and usually takes 2 to 3 days to complete. There are several backcountry campsites along the way where hikers can camp and enjoy the night under the stars. These sites offer basic amenities like bear-proof food storage and pit toilets.

One of the key highlights of the Skyline Trail is the Notch, the highest point of the trail. From here, hikers can enjoy breathtaking views of the entire area. Other notable spots include the Big Shovel Pass and the beautiful alpine meadows that bloom with wildflowers during the summer months.

Highlights of Jasper National Park

Jasper National Park is known for its spectacular scenery. Maligne Canyon and the Skyline Trail offer some of the best views in the park. Whether you’re admiring waterfalls, deep canyons, or alpine vistas, the park’s natural beauty is truly awe-inspiring.

The park is home to a wide range of ecosystems, from dense forests to alpine meadows. As you hike, you’ll encounter a variety of plant and animal life. This diversity makes every hike a unique experience, offering new sights and sounds at every turn.

For those looking to immerse themselves in nature, Jasper National Park offers excellent backcountry camping opportunities. Trails like the Skyline Trail provide designated campsites where hikers can spend the night surrounded by nature. These campsites offer a chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of daily life and enjoy the tranquility of the wilderness.

Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Yoho National Park

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Serenity at Emerald Lake

The Emerald Lake Trail is perfect for a peaceful hike. This easy path circles the stunning turquoise waters of Emerald Lake, surrounded by tall mountains and green forests. It’s a great spot for a calm walk, taking beautiful photos, and seeing wildlife. The serene beauty of this trail makes it a favorite for visitors of all ages.

Thrills on the Iceline Trail

If you’re looking for a challenge, the Iceline Trail is for you. This tough hike brings you close to massive glaciers and offers amazing views of Yoho Valley and Takakkaw Falls, one of Canada’s highest waterfalls. The trail is steep and rocky, but the views are worth it. Completing this trail gives a real sense of achievement and unforgettable scenery.

Enchanting Glacial Lakes and Waterfalls

Yoho National Park is famous for its glacial lakes and waterfalls. Emerald Lake is just one example, but there are many other beautiful lakes to explore. Takakkaw Falls, with its 373-meter (1,224 feet) drop, is a must-see. These water features offer peace and incredible beauty, making the park a top spot for nature lovers.

Varied and Vibrant Terrain

The park’s landscape is incredibly diverse. You’ll find lush valleys filled with wildflowers, dense forests, and rocky peaks. This variety makes each visit exciting and new. Whether you’re hiking through the forest or climbing to high viewpoints, the changing scenery keeps things interesting and beautiful.

Geological Treasures

Yoho National Park is a wonderland for geology fans. The Burgess Shale fossil beds are world-famous, showcasing well-preserved fossils from over 500 million years ago. These fossils give a unique look into ancient life. The park also features impressive rock formations and evidence of past glaciers, making it a fascinating place to explore.


Dive into the spectacular landscapes of Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks, featuring crystalline turquoise lakes, imposing glaciers, and awe-inspiring waterfalls. Whether you’re taking a leisurely stroll around Lake Louise or tackling the challenging heights of the Iceline Trail, there’s a perfect path for every adventurer. Enjoy accessible hikes for the whole family, gaze upon the iconic glacial lakes like Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, and encounter diverse wildlife, including grizzly bears and elk. Traverse the dramatic depths of Maligne Canyon and embark on the Skyline Trail for a multi-day journey offering unparalleled views from above the treeline. Experience the serene beauty of Emerald Lake, conquer the Iceline Trail’s rugged terrain, and explore the ancient Burgess Shale fossil beds, set amidst a richly varied landscape.


What is the best time to visit Banff, Jasper, and Yoho National Parks?

The optimal time to explore these magnificent parks is from late June to early September, when the weather is pleasant and the majority of trails and attractions are open.

Are the trails in these parks suitable for beginners?

Absolutely! There are numerous beginner-friendly trails, such as the picturesque Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon trails in Banff National Park, and the stunning Maligne Canyon trail in Jasper National Park.

Can I see wildlife in these national parks?

Yes, indeed! These parks are teeming with wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, deer, and a variety of bird species. Remember to maintain a safe distance while observing wildlife.

Do I need a permit for hiking or camping in these parks?

Day hiking generally does not require a permit. However, for overnight camping, especially in backcountry areas like the Skyline Trail in Jasper, a permit is necessary. Visit the specific park’s website for detailed information.

What should I bring for a hike in these national parks?

Be sure to pack sturdy hiking boots, weather-appropriate clothing, ample water, snacks, a map, and a first aid kit. For extended hikes, additional supplies such as a flashlight and extra food are advisable

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