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cimamc Jul 10th, 2012 05:22 AM

Nine Day Trip to Banff
Hi all.

I am flying to Calgary on September 7 and departing from Calgary on September 16. All I know for now is that I want to visit the Banff/ Jasper area. I usually plan my trips well in advance, but this year has just been too crazy and I am running out of time. Am travelling with my wife and adult daughter. We will have a car and are looking to hike and sightsee. Our hiking endurance level is not great, but not horrible – we are usually good with 1 or max 2 hikes per day of no more than 5 miles each. Don’t mind driving and usually prefer some sort of loop to get back to the starting point. Would appreciate any suggested itineraries you can provide and/or advise on the “must see”, “must do” while in the are .

Thanks in advance for you help.

LindainOhio Jul 10th, 2012 08:03 AM

Here's what we did. Hope it helps you with your last minute planning. We planned a visit one year only 3 weeks before we left. Sept is a great time to visit.

cimamc Jul 10th, 2012 09:16 AM

Thanks for the prompt response. I can't your wait to read your detailed account tonight. I'm sure it will be very helpful.

Songdoc Jul 23rd, 2012 10:34 AM

LindainOhio --

Your trip report was great and VERY helpful. I made lots of notes. Next week I'll be going to Banff & Jasper -- and to be honest I haven't even begun to do any serious planning. We'll be working and then will have six full days off. Spending three nights at Becker's Chalets in Jasper & two nights at Brewster's Mountain Lodge -- so won't have as much time as you had.

Can you recommend your top "must-sees" in these places? We like easy-to-moderate hikes -- not more than 5 miles.


LindainOhio Jul 24th, 2012 02:10 PM

We stayed at Beckers on a previous visit. It is very nice and is located just before you enter Jasper's townsite. Brewsters in Banff is also a very nice place to stay. My trip report lists several "must sees" since we were travelling with 2 couples along who had never visited the area. It is truly a hiker's paradise but you will see a lot of senior bus tours there also. A lot of the wonderful scenery can be seen right from your car.

In Banff, stop at the Banff Springs Hotel--we visit this in the evening--beautiful. Banff is a busy town in the summer. We stayed in Banff in the winter but have never stayed there in the summer so I can't recommend any hikes. We always stop there for breakfast/lunch on our way to Lake Louise. Drive there one evening for dinner.

Day 1 Trails

My suggestion would be to get up early and drive the Bow Valley Parkway to Lake Louise, and then choose a hike that starts at Lake Louise. Skip Johnston Canyon unless it is raining--it's a nice trail to do when it rains since it is paved. I love walking Maligne Canyon in Jasper

Lakeshore Trail- easy--1 mile

Trail to the Lake Agnes Teahouse--2.2 miles-- moderately strenuous. Elevation gain 1300 ft--very busy trail--the earlier you get there the better.
You do walk a steady uphill but it is so special to hike to a teahouse. It is also very interesting to talk to the students who live up there all summer. It was very windy and cold when we got to Lake Agnes.

Trail to the Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse--The other trail that starts at Lake Louise. 3.4 miles but you can always turn around before you get to the teahouse. 115 ft elevation gain. I prefer the Lake Agnes Trail--it seemed to take us forever to get to this teahouse--don't feel like you have to go all the way. This is also a busy trail.

Day 2 trails

I would head to Moraine Lake. Take the easy walk to the top of the rockpile for the fabulous view. I really enjoyed the the easy hike to Lower Consolation Lakes. 1.8 mi Elevation gain 215 ft. It is a pretty spectacular sight when you get to the lake and are surrounded by the mountains--really beautiful.

There are a lot of trails from Moraine Lake--this is the shortest.

If you look at my report and look at the day we hiked Moraine and then headed out to Emerald Lake for lunch, I would repeat that day. We stayed at Emerald Lake one year and just loved it there.

I am also dying to get to Lake O'Hara--you need to book the bus ride 3 months ahead but there were people that arrrived and waited standby and got on the bus. We had a rainout that day but if you read or google Lake O'Hara, you see nothing but glowing reviews and spectacular scenery. You probably don't have time for this.

On the drive to Jasper, you will want to stop at Bow Summit/Peyto Lake---the drive on the Icefields Parkway is unbelievably beautiful and we stopped many, many times. Be sure to pick up a picnic lunch so you can stop and eat along the way. I think I listed an online driving guide in my trip report.

We stop at the Icefield Center but have never taken the glacier walk or Snocoach.

I love the Parker Ridge trail. 1.7 mi Elevation gain 820ft. It is a series of switchbacks that takes you up to the ridge overlooking the Saskatchewan Glacier--when you get to the top of the trail, walk to the left to see the glacier and the overlook--it is a wonderful "top of the world" view. We have seen mountain goats up there. The view was such a surprise to me--it truly took my breath away.

In Jasper, you will want to drive up Mt Edith Cavell--the road is very close to Beckers and see Angel Glacier---there is a 1 mile Path of the Glacier. Cavell Meadows hike is there--supposed to have lovely wildflowers. You may ask at the visitor centers where wildflowers are blooming. We have only visited in Sept. when flowers were done blooming.

We also love Maligne Canyon and started at the 5th Bridge parking lot. Then we headed out to the beautiful Maligne Lake. We have never taken the boat out to Spirit island but I know a lot of visitors do enjoy that.

Everyone is very helpful in the visitor centers. I purchased The Canadian Rockies Trail Guide by Brian Patton and it is a great hiking guide. I also love Kauai like you do---but I have also fallen in love with the Canadian Rockies. Hope you enjoy your visit.

Songdoc Jul 24th, 2012 03:01 PM

I can't thank you enough. SOOOO appreciated. I've printed it all out (along with your report) and will report back :-).

Love this forum!

Maudie Jul 25th, 2012 04:10 PM

Great info, thanks LindainOhio. Songdoc, I'm counting on you reporting back!

ltt Aug 30th, 2012 12:16 PM

i'd really recommend you have reservations especially for jasper and also for any weekend stays. jasper gets booked up fast and it gets expensive. we arrived one saturday without a reservation and ended up with one of the last rooms in town and it was a dumpy hotel, two single beds, above a bar and was about $250/night.

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