Accessible from downtown Banff, this out-and-back hike is the perfect welcome to the grand Canadian Rockies.
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.
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!
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.
Remember to pack your bear spray, hiking boots, warm layers, water, snacks, sunscreen, sunglasses, sun hat, warm hat and rain gear.
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.
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.