Banff Bow River to Bow Falls to Banff Springs

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Banff Bow River to Bow Falls to Banff Springs

Distance: 6.0km
Elevation: 70m
Time: 1.5-2h

Difficulty Rating:

One of the best walks in Banff is the classic walk along the Bow River. This trail is perfect for beginners or those with limited physical ability, offering beautiful views of the forest, scenic Bow River, Bow Falls and Banff Springs Hotel.

Getting there

Park your car at the Banff Springs Hotel and set off on foot. You can also park anywhere along the route and even in Banff.


When to do

All Year

Backcountry Campsites




Family friendly


Route Signage


Crowd Levels


Route Type



Detailed Description

This hike is the best and easiest way to see Banff on foot and makes an excellent walk after dinner or for a lazy day. You can start anywhere in Banff, though the map for this hike starts at the wonderful Banff Springs Hotel.

The crux of this walk is actually finding the path down to the Bow River from the Banff Springs Hotel. Ask for directions to Waldhaus, a wonderful German restaurant and pub. You’ll know you’re on the right path when you will find a public set of wooden stairs that lead down to the Bow River and Waldhaus. On the way down you can look across the Spray River and you will see the Banff Springs Golf course, a world-renowned fairway.

Pass the Waldhaus, and continue down to the Spray River. DO NOT CROSS the bridge towards the golf course, but continue on the left-hand side of the Bow River. You may be lucky to see some river rafts launching from here for a trip down the Bow, a great idea for hot days. From here, you’ll quickly reach Bow Falls.

From Bow Falls, the best path is a series of stairs that hugs the river. These stairs are very difficult with a stroller. This path gives great views of Bow Falls and eventually lets you walk along the Bow River through a lovely grove of trees. You can cross the Bow either on the pedestrian bridge or later across the main road bridge, which leads onto Banff Avenue.

We recommend walking down Banff Avenue and doing a little window shopping or picking up a coffee or a slice of pizza at Aardvark Pizza on Caribou Street. Walk all the way down to Wolf Street and then turn left and follow the street as it bends towards the left. You soon come back towards a tranquil section of the Bow River. Pass through the large Banff Central Park (which occasionally has live bands at the bandstand) and cross over the bridge for your return journey back through the forest to the Banff Springs hotel.

Insider Hints

  • These trails are often a good choice on days when parking is limited in Banff. Find a spot and saunter into Banff along the river.

  • Watch for ice on the stairs leading down to Waldhaus and along Bow Falls.

  • Buy some snacks and have a picnic at Banff Central Park. There are washrooms, picnic tables and a fun play area for kids!

  • Check out our YouTube video on this great family hike.

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