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Hiking trail

Tunnel Mountain

Hiking trail · Alberta
Responsible for this content
Macs Adventure Verified partner  Explorers Choice 
  • The view of Bow River from the backside of Tunnel Mountain
    / The view of Bow River from the backside of Tunnel Mountain
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • A resting place
    / A resting place
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Tunnel mountain
    / Tunnel mountain
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • /
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
  • Sign to tunnel mountain
    / Sign to tunnel mountain
    Photo: Kellen MacFadyen, Macs Adventure
Map / Tunnel Mountain
1200 1350 1500 1650 1800 m km 1 2 3 4 5

Accessible from downtown Banff, this out-and-back hike is the perfect welcome to the grand Canadian Rockies.

moderate
6 km
2:30 h
313 m
306 m

This route travels almost entirely uphill, becoming more difficult as you reach the mountain path and start the switchbacks to the top. However, you'll be happily distracted halfway up when you start catching views of the city of Banff beneath you. You'll also be at a great vantage point to see the iconic blue color of the Bow River as it weaves around both sides of the mountain and through town.

Author’s recommendation

The start of this hike is just a hundred feet from the Visitors Center. Pop in to get oriented to the region and ask any questions!

outdooractive.com User
Author
Hannah Lafleur
Updated: September 08, 2018

Difficulty
moderate
Technique
Stamina
Experience
Landscape
Highest point
1648 m
Lowest point
1378 m
Best time of year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Safety information

There are a few road crossings on this path so be sure to look for oncoming cars. A small section of the path also follows a road on a gravel shoulder. 

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 if you feel that snow or rain makes a trail unsafe. 

 

 

Equipment

Remember to pack your bear spray, hiking boots, warm layers, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm hat and rain gear.

Tips, hints and links

On Trail

This trail is straightforward to follow as it does not intersect with any others. However, be diligent on your descent as many walkers have created their own tiny detours and you'll want to be sure to stay on the main path. 

 

Points of Interest

As the hub of the Canadian Rockies, Banff has many wonderful sights to explore. Consider taking a dip in the hot pools of Banff Upper Hot Springs where the natural mineral water is kept at a temperature between 98 - 104 degrees Fahrenheit. If you're in town on a Wednesday definitely check out the local Farmers Market in Banff Central Park. If you'd like to get additional views or treat yourself to a nice meal, check out the seasonal offerings around the Banff Gondola. A restaurant and interpretive center are located at the summit and there are evenings with live music during the summer. 

 

Food & Drink

This is a short hike, but we always recommend bringing a small snack and water. When you're done there are so many wonderful local restaurants to choose from in Banff, you might have trouble choosing at all. See your driving route notes for our top recommendations.

Start

The corner of Banff Ave & Wolf St. (1382 m)
Coordinates:
Geographic
51.178337, -115.570494
UTM
11U 599920 5670628

Destination

The peak of Tunnel Mountain

Turn-by-turn directions

0.00 - Start this walk on the corner of Banff Ave and Wolf St. With your back to Canmore Shops and the Visitors Center down Banff Ave to your right, walk STRAIGHT ON Wolf St as it slopes gently upward.

0.1km - Walk across Beaver St and continue STRAIGHT ON Wolf St.

0.3km - Cross Otter St. and continue STRAIGHT ON Wolf St.

0.6km - Arrive at a T junction between Grizzly Rd, Wolf St, and Saint Julien Rd. TURN RIGHT to cross Grizzly Rd using the crosswalk. You’ll see a scrappy tarmac path going uphill along Saint Julien Rd.

1.0km - You’ll see a parking lot with a trailhead on your left. A signpost on your right will point to your left for the Tunnel Mountain Trailhead. TURN LEFT to take the crosswalk across St. Julien Rd. You’ll see a gravel path extending ahead of you once you cross the road. Continue STRAIGHT ON as now you are on the official Tunnel Mountain Trail.

1.4km - Arrive at a small parking lot alongside Tunnel Mountain Rd. Use the crosswalk to walk safely to the other side and continue STRAIGHT ON the path on the other side of the road. 

1.9km - Keep an eye out to your right as you may begin to sneak peeks of Banff Town Center below. Continue STRAIGHT ON the path as it zig zags up the mountain.

2.9km - Take in the other side of Tunnel Mountain with its sparkling blue rivers and granite peaks. Continue STRAIGHT ON the path as you are on the final leg of the ascent! 

3.2km Hurrah! You’ve reached the top of Tunnel Mountain and earned your reward with the best view of Banff in the area. Snap some pictures and soak up the sun before heading back down the way you came.

Parking

Park in town to access the beginning of this route. For most of the area, street parking is free and can be good for up to three hours. However, always be sure to read street signs to make sure you are within any parking restrictions. If you want to make the trip slightly shorter, you can park at the main trailhead for Tunnel Mountain which is just off St. Juliens Rd. Wherever you park, make sure to display your National Park Pass on your mirror as rangers are patrolling cars for this document. 

 

If you're short on time or want to make this walk a little shorter, there is a small parking lot along Tunnel Mountain Rd which has direct access to the trail. 

Arrival by train, car, foot or bike

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Difficulty
moderate
Distance
6 km
Duration
2:30 h
Ascent
313 m
Descent
306 m

Statistics

: h
 km
 m
 m
Highest point
 m
Lowest point
 m
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