If you have not been to Banff, and it’s not on your bucket list, I highly recommend that you add it now. It is seriously, hands and paws down, the most beautiful place we have ever been — and like all beautiful places, photos don’t do it justice. And the photos are all beyond amazing. Another reason to add it to your list? Nearly all of the trails in Banff National Park are dog-friendly. There are so many places to explore, whether you’re looking to bag peaks or follow winding rivers. In this post we’re sharing our top 5 favorites from our trip.
TEA HOUSE AT LAKE AGNES
When we told friends and family that we were traveling to Banff, those who had gone before said this was their top recommendation. After doing this hike ourselves, I can see why. When you arrive at Lake Louise to get to the trail head for this hike, it’s easy to see why it is one of the most photographed lakes in the world. The ice blue water looks fake and is beautifully framed by the mountain tops — it really is the perfect picture. The hike to the tea house is challenging, but so rewarding. When you get to the top, you are greeted by the cutest tea house next to a beautiful, and again gorgeous blue, Lake Agnes. It’s the perfect spot to stop for a snack and some tea and just soak in the surroundings.
PLAIN OF SIX GLACIERS
Did you know that there are actually two tea houses that you can hike to from Lake Louise? While researching before our trip, I found a review that recommended a loop to visit both in one hike. It even got as specific as to recommend the direction of the loop — visit Lake Anges first and then loop around to Plain of Six Glaciers before heading back to Lake Louise. When you do it this way, you get incredible views of Lake Louise almost the entire way down from Plain of Six Glaciers. Another reason to do the loop? Beehives. No, not the kind with bees, but the top of a peak that boasts expansive views of the Bow Valley, the nearby Rockies, and Lake Louise. It’s incredible. I could have stayed up there all day.
From the moment I saw this dog-shaped lake in photos, I knew I needed to see it in person. From the parking lot, it’s just a quick walk up a paved path to your first view of this gorgeous lake and it’s surroundings. Definitely stop here, take it in, and snap a photo, but if you’d like to get away from the crowds and take in more of the view, continue on past the current viewing area to the old lookout. There is still a trail that you can take and very few people seem to make the climb. We enjoyed wandering and exploring with the gorgeous backdrop of Peyto Lake for a few hours, and it was one of the best afternoons of our entire trip.
We did this hike between two strenuous hike days as a rest day, but it turned out to be one of the coolest hikes of our trip. It’s a canyon hike, along the river, so relatively flat, but don’t let that lead you to think it has any less interesting views than those you earn after what feels like hundreds of switchbacks. The rich, bright blue colored water of the lakes, flows through a beautiful, winding canyon offering incredible views the entire hike. There are two waterfalls, an upper and lower. I would highly recommend hiking all the way to the upper falls and if you feel like you have more in you, hike a bit further to check out the ink pots, which are mineral springs that bubble up in a meadow surrounded by nearby peaks. Tip: this hike gets very busy, to avoid crowds, start early or go late in the day.
This was one of our favorite hikes for many reasons: we had the trail all to ourselves (this was the only time that happened on the trip), it was a pretty challenging climb, when you got to the top it was easy to wander and explore, we saw sheep, and we got to see the Saskachewan Glacier, the longest glacier of the Canadian Rockies! It was also totally unplanned. I always recommend leaving some of your trip open and unplanned to take advantage of things you might see or recommendations from the locals. This hike was a recommendation and we actually had to backtrack our drive a few miles to get to it, but it was so worth it.
As a bonus, here are some more of our favorites from our trip to Banff:
- Moraine Lake
- Athebasca Glacier
- Emerald Lake
- Takakkaw Falls
- Bow Glacier Falls
- Drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper
Have you been to Banff? Which hikes would you recommend? Tell us in the comments?
Hi! I’m Theresa. I live with my husband Travis, Goldendoodle Murphy, and cat Tonka in Minnesota. I’m a marketer, adventurer, and hobby photographer. We love to travel as much as we can, and spend most of our free time outdoors hiking, camping, skiing, or at our lake cabin in Wisconsin.