The Canadian Rockies surrounding Canmore, Banff and Lake Louise contain a lifetime of walking and hiking opportunities. Eight National and Provincial Mountain Parks are within easy driving distance. The scenery is classically magnificent – steely grey limestone peaks are clothed in forests, waterfalls, craggy cliffs and, not far west of Canmore, glaciers! The forest cover of the valley floors is broken by frequent lakes and beaver ponds. Towards treeline the forest thins, alpine larches appear as forests give way to alpine meadows.
From late May to mid-August the forest and especially the meadows are lit in glorious wildflower shades of red, blue, yellow and white. By late August wildflower colour is replaced by the reds and golds of Fall. September is in some ways the most spectacular month as the alpine larches turn the treeline into a blazing line of gold and incandescent aspens that speckle the valley floors.
We live and play in these mountains and we really enjoy showing them to you. The first two days hiking are based in Canmore before we move to Banff and Lake Louise based hiking days. We look forward to introducing you to the great hiking we have here in the Canadian Rockies! This is a hotel-based trip so we carry light day packs and sleep in a comfortable bed.
Day 1: Meet in Canmore
Everyone arrives in Canmore and we meet that evening at 5:00 pm at the hotel for a welcome session. We’ll go over plans and options for the following days, look at maps of the area and check to see that you are properly outfitted.
Day 2: Day hike from Canmore
Your guide will meet you at the hotel after breakfast and you’ll head out on your first hike which will be in one of the many parks covering Kananaskis country. We like to keep plans flexible and choose a hike that’s not too hard and appropriate for the current weather in order to allow everyone to acclimatize to our higher elevation and dry air.
Day 3: Travel to Lake Louise, hike en-route
After breakfast, we drive north towards Lake Louise stopping to hike in Kootenay National Park (50 km from Canmore) on the way. Stanley Glacier, Arnica and Vista Lakes are a few good examples of hikes we may tour. After hiking we complete our drive north another 25km to Lake Louise with its gem of a lake surrounded by enormous peaks and their hanging glaciers.
Day 4: Hiking at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park
There is a bit of driving today (up to 2 hours each way) but it is one of the most scenic drives in the world – The ‘Icefields Parkway’! We follow it up valleys overhung by glaciers, past lakes and Icefields then over alpine passes and meadows to reach the world-famous Columbia Icefields. Options include a hike up Wilcox Meadows (11.2km, +/-355m) just inside the border of Jasper National Park or a stunning hike just south of the border at Helen Lake in Banff National Park (12km, +/-420m). Return to Lake Louise for the night while we take in the stunning mountain scenery.
Day 5: Hike in Yoho National Park
Head a little west over the “Kicking Horse Pass’ into Yoho National Park (10 km). Hike either to Yoho Lake or, if feeling fit, we will hike the Iceline Trail. Return to Banff (80 km) for the last two nights.
Day 6: Hiking in Banff National Park
A final day of hiking in Banff National Park, perhaps to Healy Meadows, Sunshine or Larch Valley. Enjoy a final night on the town in Banff to celebrate our adventures walking in the Canadian Rockies.
Day 7: Tour finishes in Banff
Guests finish with coffee and breakfast in Banff and then head off for further adventures. (For those guests wishing to return to Canmore, the ROAM bus runs a regular schedule between Banff and Canmore).
Please note that the hikes and locations may vary based on weather and trail conditions as well as guest ability. You will have the opportunity to visit multiple Provincial and National Parks.
Mt. Yamnuska, 25 km east of Canmore in the Yamnuska Natural Park, 12 km of walking, 500m – 800m elevation gain. Yamnuska overlooks the lower Bow Valley and the montane forests of the Rockies’ foothills with the prairies in the far distance. Best in early summer when the area blooms with paintbrush, fireweed, fleabane, tiger lilies and orchids or in September when the aspens are turning yellow and alpine shrubs red.
Stanley Glacier, 30 km west of Banff in Kootenay National Park, 8 km of walking,365 m elevation gain. Hike into a beautiful hanging valley above Vermilion Pass. Mt. Stanley and the Stanley Glacier above. A profusion of wildflowers from beginning to end.
Wilcox Pass, at the Columbia Icefields 160 km northwest of Banff. A wonderful walk in alpine meadows with Mt. Athabasca and the Columbia Icefields as a backdrop.
Healy Meadows, in Banff National Park 15 km west of Banff. Hike through mature forest to reach extensive alpine meadows with great views.
Sunshine Meadows, 30km west of Canmore in Banff National Park, access by shuttle bus to extensive walking trails on alpine meadows. A wildflower heaven.
Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass, 80km west of Canmore in Banff National Park above Moraine Lake, 12 km walking, 720 m elevation gain. Famous for alpine meadows, Fall colours and alpine scenery both
Yoho Lake, in Yoho National Park 100 km west of Canmore. A beautiful lake nestled in the forest just below Yoho Pass. Great views of the famous Takkakaw Falls and Yoho Valley.
The Iceline, in Yoho National Park 100 km west of Canmore, is a hiking tour de force. Hike adjacent to glaciers and high above the valley, magnificent view of Takkakaw Falls.
Meeting Place and Time
We will meet you in the lobby of your Canmore hotel accommodation at 5:00 pm (MST) on day 1. We will supply the hotel with our guest list and you will be able to check yourself in earlier that afternoon.
Accommodation and Meals
We use high standard hotels and lodges for this hiking tour. Rooms are shared (double occupancy). No single supplement applies unless you wish to guarantee a single room for yourself in which case a $700 CDN additional charge will be applied to your booking.
Most groups will spend the first two nights of each trip at the Grande Rockies Resort (901 Mountain St, Canmore, tel 403-678-8880). In Banff and in Lake Louise we choose from a variety of hotels.
All breakfasts are included as are hiking lunches and trail snacks. Dinners are not included so you can explore the many dining options. There are many easily accessible restaurants nearby or in your hotel. Please specify any special dietary requirements you have on your application so we can incorporate them into our lunch menus. A surcharge will apply.
Guides and Group Size
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is licensed by Parks Canada and Alberta Provincial parks to conduct hiking tours in both the National and Provincial Mountain Parks of the Canadian Rockies.
Your guides are experienced professional hiking guides who live here, in the Canadian Rockies. They are certified by the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides and from the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association. Your guide has advanced wilderness first aid training. They will be carrying full emergency gear including a first-aid kit, bear spray and a portable radio. Most importantly, they are chosen for their enthusiasm and interest in sharing their knowledge of these mountains.
The minimum group size will be 3, maximum 9.
Getting to Canmore and Transportation
Canmore is situated 100km (65miles) west of Calgary on the Trans-Canada Highway. It is well served by scheduled bus lines both from Calgary (airport and downtown), Banff (20km west) and points further west. Calgary International Airport is well connected to major cities throughout North America and Europe. Once in Canmore, we will supply all the transport needed for the trip.
Frequent shuttles connect Calgary International Airport and Canmore. Banff Airporter is the best way to get between Calgary Airport and Canmore/Banff. When you book with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures you will receive a 15% discount on Banff Airporter Scheduled Services.
Equipment and Clothing
We supply group camping and cooking equipment, as well as an emergency communication device, lunches and snacks, bear spray and a full expedition emergency first-aid kit. You will need to bring personal hiking equipment and clothing. When purchasing gear consider both functionality as well as weight. Lightweight packs, sleeping bags, sleeping mats and clothing are readily available and will lighten your load substantially.
What you bring will have a big impact on the quality of your experience. Please take the time to read the information below, and cross-check with our Traveling Light and Making Backpacking Fun. The list below will keep you very comfortable in the field. Make sure you have all your clothing and gear before you arrive, and reserve any rentals with us in advance. Your guide will go through your clothing and gear with you prior to the trip.
When hiking in the mountains, it is important to be able to adjust to the changing conditions. We recommend bringing clothing that can be layered to achieve comfort as you change from periods of activity to periods of rest. We discourage cotton clothing as it causes rapid heat loss when wet.
You will need to bring:
- Wool or fleece hat/toque
- Sunhat – Wide brim or baseball style
- Long underwear top and bottoms – Lightweight synthetic or merino wool
- Socks – Preferably a synthetic/merino wool blend. Bring at least three pairs.
- Light Synthetic Shirt
- Jacket – A midweight synthetic jacket
- Insulated Jacket – synthetic or down jacket
- Waterproof / Breathable Rain Jacket
- Rain Pants – Also waterproof/breathable. Ideally with side zips, so they can be put on without taking off your boots.
- Hiking Pants – Preferably windproof and quick drying. No blue jeans or cotton pants.
- Light Gloves / Mitts
- Light Footwear – for evenings in town
You will need to bring:
- Boots – Spend some time walking around in your boots before you arrive for your trip and get used to how they feel. They should have good ankle support and tread, with sturdy soles. Your boots will make or break your holiday so some time getting used to them is time well spent. Ensure they have been waterproofed or have a good waterproof liner material.
- Gaiters – Recommended early & late season. Really help to keep feet dry, keep socks and pants clean from mud and keep debris out of your boots.
- Daypack – This should be between 25 and 40 Liter capacity. In it, you will carry your spare clothing, food, water, and other gear you will need for the day. A lightweight pack is recommended.
- Pack Cover – This should be waterproof and large enough to cover the outside of your pack to keep the contents dry in a rainstorm. You can also line the inside of your stuff sacks with plastic bags to keep gear dry.
- Trekking Poles – Must be collapsible.
- Sunglasses – With 100% UV protection and a hard case.
- Headlamp – With fresh batteries
- Water Bottle / Bladder – 1-2 litre capacity.
- Blister Kit – Moleskin, Second Skin, etc.
- Personal First Aid Kit – Our guide carries a group first aid kit so keep this small. Band-Aids, Tylenol/ibuprofen, etc.
- Sun Block & Lip Balm – Extra strength with UV protection.
- Insect repellent
Please book as early as practical to avoid disappointment. A deposit of 35% is required at time of booking. The final payment is due eight weeks before the start of the trip.
For detailed Booking Instructions and Conditions, click here.
Please note that you will be required to sign our waiver before commencing the trip. Click here for a waiver copy.
There are two basic types of insurance that most travellers need to consider: Medical and Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance. We offer our guests coverage for both and highly recommend you purchase it.
Emergency Medical Expenses Insurance:
It is wise to ensure that your health plan will cover you in case of illness or accident during your trip. Obtain extra coverage if necessary. There is no charge for rescue in the National and provincial Parks, however, costs such as air or ground transportation, long term care and other services are not covered.
Cancellation/Trip Interruption Insurance:
We recognize that our guests’ schedules may change for many reasons; business, family, flight delays, injuries and other unplanned events. For these eventualities, the Trip Cancellation/Interruption insurance is a great way to protect your investment.
For all your travel insurance requirements we recommend the Simpson Group. This agency offers a wide range of travel insurance options including Trip Cancellation/Interruption, Travel Medical and Personal Effect Loss for Canadian Travelers. We highly recommend purchasing this insurance. For more information and to purchase a plan, visit the Simpson Group’s website.
Please note that this coverage is for Canadian residents only. For guests who are not from Canada and who are interested in the ‘Visitors to Canada’ insurance package please contact the Simpson Group directly at JSimpson@simpson-group.com and reference your Yamnuska Mountain Adventure’s trip.
Private guiding options are available. Please contact us to discuss this option.
Please contact us so that we may provide you with a custom quote. Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
Departures can be set up on a private basis for individuals, families, or groups. Please contact us if you would like to arrange your own departure and we will be happy to provide you with a quote based on your group’s size and trip options.
Pricing includes five days of hiking with a professional guide, 6 nights of shared accommodation, six breakfasts, five lunches, local transfers and National Park Entry.
Not included: Gratuities for guide, evening meals & 5% Goods and Service Tax (GST). If you wish to have your own private room an additional $700 CDN charge will apply.
Trip Cancellation Insurance is available through the Simpson Group.
How difficult is it?
How fit and experienced need you be?
This is an easy to moderate difficulty hiking tour. It involves hiking between 5-8 hours per day where daily distances can range from 8km to up to 16km. Elevation gains of up to 600m for some hikes. Participants will be carrying a day pack containing spare clothing, camera, lunch and something to drink each day. Hikes will be chosen to best suit the group.
This program is designed for fit walkers. Expect a slower pace. We will stay as a group while hiking. Any training you can do before you arrive will enhance your experience. No previous mountain hiking experience required. We suggest you train by walking or hiking in hilly terrain (use flights of stairs if in the city).
Visit our Trip Difficulty Comparison Chart.