This out-and-back valley hike takes you through stands of young pine trees before opening up onto a massive moraine leading toward Stanley Glacier.
This first part of the walk is an ascent of switchbacks through bright green pine trees. You'll view the cascading falls of Stanley Creek which feeds glacial melt into the Vermillion River. The path flattens briefly before the ascent through the scree field to the high point of the hike. Use care during this section as the many different paths have been created by previous travelers. The basin makes it difficult to get lost, but you may find yourself on a secondary trail or find numerous trails that interweave. However, all of the trails will lead you to the small grove of trees at the top of the basin. This will be the closest point and some of the best views of the impressive Stanley Glacier.
If you have trekking poles, this is a trail to use them on. You might appreciate the extra balance when walking through the upper scree fields.
Bears are present and active around all hiking routes. Be sure to review The Parks Canada information regarding travel in bear country to familiarize yourself with best practices. Always carry bear spray and know how to use it.
The weather in this area can change quickly. Even if you start a hike with blue skies, it could easily be storming (or even snowing) by the afternoon. Check the weather report daily to adjust your hiking schedule as needed.
Trail Conditions can vary based on the season and weather. Check with a local visitor's center or visit the Parks Canada Website for the most up to date trail conditions. Always be prepared to turn back you feel that snow or rain makes a trail unsafe.
We recommend packing at least bear spray, hiking boots, warm layers, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm hat, rain gear.
Points of Interest
During the first few kilometers of this trail, you'll notice the young Lodgepole Pines around you. This is a new growth forest following the lightning strike fire that hit the area in 1968.
Food & Drink
There are no services between Banff & Stanley Lake Trailhead so be sure to pack a lunch and snacks for this hike. For our recommendations of places to eat and grocery shop in Banff, review your driving route notes.
There is a sign for the trailhead 2km before the lefthand turn off of Route 93. However there is no sign at the actual turn, so be diligent in looking for this slightly hidden by trees left turn that will have you cross the other side of the interstate into the trailhead parking lot.
The parking lot at this trailhead can fit about 20 cars, however as the trail can be popular, so try to get there in the morning to snag a spot easily.