If you’ve been on social media recently then chances are you’ve seen more than a few images of Banff National Park. And for good reason: It’s gorgeous, wild, and scenic.
We love Lake Louise and its milky blue waters just as much as everyone else, but do yourself a favor and skip the traffic jam and the tourists and get a little more off the grid with these five awesome trail runs.
Located in the northern section of Banff National Park, this out-and-back run (just under 3 miles each way) starts near the Num-ti-jah Lodge and takes you west along the north shore of Bow Lake until you reach Bow Glacier Falls.
The trail is often wet and muddy and you can expect a few stream crossings but it’s a gorgeous run to tackle, especially if you want a trail without a ton of elevation gain.
The Rockbound Lake Trail is a good option for those who want a challenging run through thick forest and the reward of a lake at the end (read: an uphill climb for most of the way).
We recommend visiting Silverton Falls on the way back which is just .7 miles out of the way and soaking your feet in the cold water before making your way back to the parking lot. Pro Tip: There are no bathrooms nor any water at this trailhead, so come prepared.
Sitting on the western side of the park close to the Kootenay National Park border is a fun out-and-back trail to Boom Lake. The path is wide with rolling hills over slightly technical ground that (after a gradual climb) will leave you on the rocky shoreline of Boom Lake (cover photo). Our GPS clocked a little under 7 miles for the run.
Get there early if you want a little lake time to yourself as the parking lot will slowly fill up with hikers around mid-morning.
This multi-use trail offers about 13.6 miles of paved path and road that’s shared by cyclists, hikers, and runners. You can pick the trail up at several different points around town but the start is near the Cascade Ponds Picnic Area.
We recommend heading toward the section that runs along the Vermilion Lakes. It’s gorgeous, flat and absolutely stunning in every direction you look.
This trail offers great views of Mount Rundle, the Bow River and the valley below. It’ll also take you past some of the sandy colored hoodoos for which it’s named.
This trail is a great option for anyone who wants to mix in some hill work, run some scenic miles and be close enough to town that you can grab a beer within 20 minutes of finishing. Pro Tip: Reserve a spot in the Tunnel Mountain Campground and make this your morning workout.
Know Before You Go
• Trail conditions are posted in town at the visitor center. There are also several different webcams that you can access to help you make an informed decision before heading out. Weather conditions can change quickly so come prepared with the proper gear.
• You’re in bear country. Be sure to carry bear spray with you and know how to use it.
• Canada lists everything in kilometers so if you’re used to running in miles, be ready to convert your distances. (1 km = .62 miles.)
• Be sure to carry a detailed map as well as a compass and know how to use both. Though you can expect a fairly good cell signal in the town of Banff itself, it’s unreliable once you are on a trail.
Erin McGrady and Caroline Whatley are based in Asheville, North Carolina, but are currently traveling the country in their van. You can follow along with their adventures at Authentic Asheville.
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