First Hikes - Flatlanders

Old Jul 9th, 2017, 10:44 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2017
Posts: 2
First Hikes - Flatlanders

Hi All,

4 of us will be visiting Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper next summer. We will begin our trip in Banff or Canmore, still trying to decide on lodging. 2 of us are from Kansas and 2 of us are from Florida. What would be some good hikes to start with, get our mountain legs? I want to start off gradual and build up over the two week adventure. A few years ago we did the Grinnell Glacier hike at GNP and my knees really struggled coming down and I was really sore for a day or two.

Also, my husband and I don't work out and are easy to moderate hikers. My sister and her husband work out and enjoy more challenging hikes. Any suggestions of areas where each couple could enjoy their type of hike and the 4 of us could be in the same area at the same time as we are traveling and staying together?

Thanks for any suggestions.
midwestmarinemom is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2017, 09:25 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 268
A couple that come to mind:
- Lake Agnes Tea house by Lake Louise. Steep, but short hike. You could go to the tea house and other couple could continue up to Big or Little Beehive while you have a snack, stroll around the lake. This might be a good first hike.
- Larch Valley by Moraine Lake. Again steep up to the Valley, just take your time You could go up to the valley and walk around (views of Valley of Ten Peaks are amazing) while other couple continues up to Sentinel pass. Your supposed to have a group of four on this hike, but I would think separating for a bit would be OK if you went as far as the small lake.
- As Myer suggested Angel Glacier. You could hike to the glacier overlook and a bit beyond while the other couple could continue up to the top to the meadows above. Great views from up top. I understand there are restrictions in place for the access road put in place since our last visit two years ago.
DaveS is offline  
Old Jul 10th, 2017, 11:56 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 582
When next summer? Some trails are closed or not in condition until some time in July. So your dates may play a factor in which hikes to pick.

If you were really sore, I'd suggest trying to work up to your trip with some walking or other exercise before you leave. Ideally, something with some stairs and/or uphill/downhill. Doesn't need to be formal "working out" - just going for walks. Doing nothing and then stressing your knees is really bad for them. Much better to work up to the hiking.

Good suggestions.

For Lake Louise, I'd actually suggest heading out to Plain of Six Glaciers if you can. Lake Agnes is nice, but offers little in the way of views. You can do both as a longer loop, or you can head back from Po6G while the other hikers continue the loop.

At Larch Valley, separating is not permitted. When the Group of 4 restriction is in effect (usually mid July to end of season) you must be in a tight group of 4 beyond the lakeshore, most especially up in Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. The fines for violating the rule are quite significant. It's easy enough to find hiking partners, so if you want to split up, find other hiking partners before you start.

The permit system for Edith Cavell is new this summer. Supposedly it's only for this year -- they're doing construction to repair the parking area so can't accommodate the usual number of vehicles. Hopefully we're back to normal in 2018, but there have been no indications either way.

Other suggestions:
Canmore area - Grassi Lakes and walking along the Bow River
Banff - Tunnel Mountain/Hoodoos
Icefields Parkway - Wilcox Pass (go as far as you are comfortable)
kgsneds is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2017, 09:05 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 268
Thanks Kgsneds. We’ve been up Sentinel pass three times and each time have seen pairs of hikers heading up the steep final approach. Seemed like there were always quite a few people hanging out by the small lake below so assumed they had broken off from them. Good to know for our next visit.

I agree Plain of Six Glaciers is overall more scenic than Lake Agnes, but I also like the view from the top of Little Beehive looking up and down the valley and Lake Louise below. Wilcox pass is another good choice and not as busy.
DaveS is offline  
Old Jul 11th, 2017, 11:16 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 582
Technically, I think the top part of Sentinel Pass is outwith the area under the Group of 4 restriction. Having asked Parks some fairly detailed questions, my understanding is that once you get above treeline (i.e on the scree) you don't have to be in a group of 4. But the lakes area is certainly within the restriction area.

And there are certainly people who break the rules. Parks can't be everywhere, so they get away with it. But I strongly encourage staying in groups the whole time -- it's much safer for you and for the bears. And not difficult to do given the number of folks in the area.
kgsneds is offline  
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