Marsh Loop Trail

Difficulty
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Very Easy
Duration
This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
1h
Distance
This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
3.4 km
Elevation
This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
102 m
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Directions to Trailhead
MARSH-LOOH-HIKE

When visiting the Cave and Basin area, consider taking the public access Marsh Loop trail for incredible views of the valley. Many photographers visit this trail for wildlife viewing. Popular for birdwatchers, the Marsh Loop is a quick and easy trail in Banff National Park that the whole family can enjoy. Connect with Sundance Trail to Sundance Canyon or Cave and Basin Historic Site for a full day adventure!

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Route Description for Marsh Loop Trail

The Marsh Loop hike encompasses boardwalks, bridges, and some small sets of stairs, so despite being quite accessible for a trail, it is not super accessible to those in wheelchairs or with walking assists.

This trail is a short 3.4 km loop that is perfect for all ages. It is an excellent option to enjoy the Bow River and views of Bow Valley without being too strenuous. It lies in the heart of the Cave and Basin area, making it easy to add other adventures to your day after completing the Marsh Loop.

Start your trip to the right of the Cave and Basin site, where you will find signage for the Marsh Loop. At the beginning of this trail, there is a fish viewing platform where you may enjoy some wildlife viewing before even starting! Look for birds and other wildlife because this marsh area is a diverse ecosystem.

The trail follows the Bow River through the marsh area. You’ll be able to spot paddlers along the river while searching for wildlife in the area. The marsh is an unassuming landscape, but the diverse wildlife that call it home elevates the beauty of this ecosystem.

You will continue on the comfortable path through the marshes, crossing various footbridges that offer stunning views, ideal for photographers. Take your time along the Marsh Loop. It is a short and simple trail, but at the same time, it is perfect for a slow-paced exploration of Banff’s marshes. Bring your camera and even a pair of binoculars to make this trail feel like an excursion. Don’t forget to learn some facts about the area from the interpretive signs along the trail.

You will reach a junction before the trail begins to loop back to the Cave and Basin. This junction is signed and can take you to the paved Sundance Trail that connects to Sundance Canyon. This makes for a much longer trail, but also accessible and perfect for families.

Continue along the marked Marsh Loop back to the Cave and Basin for your return.

Hiking Route Highlights

Cave and Basin National Historic Site

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site is a must-do while in the area. However, it does require admission; those who hold an annual Discovery Pass may enter at no charge. This site is replete with historic information, exhibits, interactive programs, and shifting informative exhibits about the Canadian National Parks.

It is the original site of the discovery of Banff’s mineral hot springs and was home to sacred Indigenous ceremonies before being discovered by rail workers. The site eventually became a national preserve and is known to be the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks system.

Be sure to take the Cave and Basin Boardwalk trail that departs from the basin site. You’ll see the opening above ground that enters the cave and learn about how the water flows from the mountain.

Insider Hints for Marsh Loop Trail

  • Take the ROAM transit bus to avoid parking
  • Bring cameras and binoculars
  • Check out the Cave and Basin National Historic Site
  • Continue from the Marsh Loop to Sundance Canyon for a longer adventure

Getting to the Marsh Loop Trail Trailhead

To get to the Marsh Loop from the Town of Banff, take Banff Avenue westbound, crossing over the Bow River Bridge. At the traffic lights in front of Cascade Gardens, turn right onto Cave Avenue. Follow Cave Ave until it ends at the parking lot for Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Walk up the path beyond the gift shop to the main building and continue to the right. Here you will find signs for the Marsh Loop.

Route Information

  • When to do

    May-October

  • Backcountry Campsites

    No

  • Pets allowed

    Yes - On Leash

  • Family friendly

    Older Children only

  • Route Signage

    Average

  • Crowd Levels

    Moderate

  • Route Type

    Circuit

Marsh Loop Trail Elevation Graph

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