Banff National Park offers some of the best Canadian Rockies vacation activities to be found. It’s a great place for skiing, hiking, mountain biking, rafting and much more. One of the best ways to get out, see the park, and get some peace, quiet and a little exercise is to thrown on a backpack and hit one of Banff’s many trails.
On a Banff backpacking trip, you’ll have the opportunity to see pristine landscapes and some amazing wildlife. To get a peak at the town of Banff and the surrounding park, check out the Banff webcam. There are many, many trails throughout Banff, the hardest thing is choosing which to take.
Here is a sampling of what you can do with four days and a backpack in Banff National Park. Seasonal restrictions can apply to some of these trails, and you are required to to register to go into the backcountry, so be sure to check in with Parks Canada before you hit the trails.
This backpacking trail is unfortunately not a loop, and is therefore best suited to parties with a second vehicle. It takes a trail to Mt. Assiniboine beginning at Sunshine Village ski area and crossing the rambling alpine meadows of Citadel Pass. You can hike the Sunshine Village ski area maintenance road or ride a shuttle up to the base village. The trip ends at the Mt. Shark trailhead in Kananaskis Country, just south of Canmore, via the Bryant Creek trail. Again, there are seasonal restrictions on Allenby Pass and Assiniboine Pass during buffalo berry season.
Campsites: Porcupine Campground, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Night 1; Lake Magog Campground, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Night 2 or 3 (where separate BC Parks campground fees will be collected on-site); McBride’s Camp – Night 3 or 4.
Distance: 55.7 km
Elevation gain: 660 m
The beauty this trail is that it is a big loop. It begins and ends at the same place, so you avoid the trouble of having to shuttle, arrange for a pickup, hitchhike or find some other way to get back to your vehicle. The beginning and end for Assiniboine loop is the Mt. Shark trailhead in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, just ouside of Banff National Park. Travel through three contiguous protected areas and behold the beauty of Mt. Assiniboine, the sixth highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Seasonal restrictions on Allenby Pass and Assiniboine Pass can apply during buffalo berry season.
Campsites: McBride’s Camp – Night 1; Lake Magog Campground or the BC Parks trail shelter, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Nights 2 and 3 (separate BC Parks campground fees will be collected on-site); Marvel Lake, or stay at the Bryant Creek trail shelter – Night 4.
Distance: 55 km
Elevation gain: 545 m
Banff and Mount Assiniboine Sunshine – Vista Lake
Access this series of high country trails linking the Sunshine Village ski area to the Vista Lake viewpoint on Highway 93 on foot or via a shuttle ride. Explore the Egypt Lake area en route. After climbing over Gibbon Pass, the trail meanders past a series of scenic lakes before the final descent to the highway.
Campsites: Egypt Lake – Night 1; Ball Pass Junction – Night 2 and 3; Twin Lakes – Night 3 or 4.
Distance: 40 km
Elevation gain: 1390 m