I am an avid hiker with a focus on easy to moderate trails in natural settings. I occasionally do harder trails.
Banff Trails in Banff National Park
The town of Banff is located in Banff National Park. There are a lot of trails that you can hike in this park, however, many of them require a little bit of a drive. If you are looking for a couple of trails that you can get to pretty easily from the Banff townsite that are also easy to complete, then this article is for you. I've put together three recommendations for easy trails that are near Banff townsite, complete with videos.
1. The Fenland Trail
The Fenland Trail is a short loop trail that receives plenty of traffic due to its close proximity to town. A clean stream that is popular with canoeists is prominent in this trail.
I've walked the Fenland Trail several times. If you follow suit, then you should not be expecting a difficult excursion. This is a level and forested trail with the only significant difficulties being bugs and mud in the summertime.
The trailhead area has about ten parking spots. However, parking is not required as you can walk to this park from town. It is located to the west of Mount Norquay Road, not far from the Trans Canada Highway.
For those looking for a lengthier trip, you can use the Fenland Trail to connect to the Vermillion Lakes region on the outskirts of the town of Banff. However, if the order of the day is something that's kid-friendly, or if you are just looking for twenty minutes of walking that does not include elevation, then this trail is certainly for you.
However, this isn't a trail with amazing scenery. The waterways are, in fact, crystal clear and you are in a forest setting but views of the mountains aren't in abundance.
Video of the Fenland Trail
2. Cascade Ponds Trail Network
The Cascade Ponds Trail Network describes an area across the Trans Canada Highway from the town of Banff on the road to Lake Minnewanka. This area is accessible from central Banff via Banff Avenue. You could walk to the Cascade Ponds but you would be in for a little bit of walk as it's not really directly in Banff like the trailhead for the Fenland Trail is.
The trail network at Cascade Ponds does offer some very nice scenery. You can see the mountains in the distance, the pond is a very nice shade of clear blue, and the air is open.
The trails are easy and offer a little bit of diversity in that you can go into the forest a little way or stay in the wide-open vicinity of the pond. Furthermore, the bugs aren't as bad in this area as they are in some other parts. You can also go off-trail exploring a little and there are many other attractions on the same road.
3. Lake Minnewanka Trails
Lake Minnewanka is a beautiful lake not far from Banff if you have a vehicle. I would think that it would be a rare person that would walk out to this attraction from the town of Banff.
But if you had a car, then you could visit this area very easily. There is tons of parking and there are also short lakeside trails.
In the following, video I show an area you will come across if you continue past the trailhead for Stewart Canyon. This isn't a trail that you would take to get away from it all as there will be a lot of tourists at this attraction. However, the scenery is amazing, partly because Lake Minnewanka is a large lake that creates an open view of the mountainous horizon.
You would not really go swimming in Lake Minnewanka. I have been on the shores on days in the middle of the summer following weeks of temperatures in the twenties. The lake just does not get that warm. I've ventured in only to turn around very quickly. Even just standing with my feet in the water in late August has made them throb from the cold after just a short time.
Lake Minnewanka Is a Cold Lake
Banff Trails Should Increase in Popularity
I think that trails in Banff National Park will increase in popularity in the years ahead. Mainly, some of the trails near Canmore are now paid trails in the form of a park pass for Kananaskis. Banff trails require a park pass too but they have for decades. A National Park Pass, which can be used at many locations across the country, is a better value than a park pass for Kananaskis and I think a lot of trail enthusiasts will realize that.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Shane Lambert
Nella DiCarlo from Guelph, Ontario on August 29, 2021:
Great trails tips!
Cristina Vanthul from Florida on August 29, 2021:
Always on the lookout for easy to moderate trails for hiking! These look perfect!
Liz Westwood from UK on August 27, 2021:
This is a helpful guide to trails near Banff. You cover a range of needs in this article and give accurate feedback about each trail, so hikers know what to expect.
I was interested in your comment about passes. I wonder in time whether something similar might have to be introduced in the busier areas of the UK.