The hike around Stoney Squaw takes you to one of our favourite viewpoints near Banff. The first half is a fun family-hike, though the 2nd half of the hike isn’t as great for little kids. This is a good hike when other parts of Banff are very busy in summer.
From Banff, head out of town on Mt Norquay Rd, passing over the Trans-Canada Highway. Continue up the road as it ascends up to the Mt Norquay Ski Hill.
|When to do|
May through early October
As you drive into the Mount Norquay Ski Area parking lot, the trailhead for the Stoney Squaw hike is on your right. While there will be lots of cars parked down by end of the parking lot, at the base area of the ski hill, we usually park by the trailhead.
While this is usually done as a circuit, the 2nd half of this hike has a narrower trail then the 1st half. In addition, there is a steep hill on the side of the trail at times. In our opinion, if you’re going to do the complete circuit with young kids it’s best to do this hike with a ratio of 1 parent for each little child, so you can hold their hand on the tougher bits.
From the parking lot, ascend on the signed Stoney Squaw trail through the forest. The hike has lots of roots, and it can be slippery after it rains. The forest here seems wetter than other parts of Banff National Park, which makes it more interesting for children to walk through.
After 1.5km of hiking you enter a clearing, where the trail splits. It’s easy to get lost here, as the trail seems to go straight ahead, but it doesn’t. Look back and to your left and see the main trail going downhill. There is currently a bit of flagging tape to mark this place. You’ll know you’re on the wrong trail if it gets steeper and narrower. Our map shows us going on the incorrect route here for a short bit!
After another 700m of hiking you get to the Stoney Squaw Lookout, and the highest point on the hike. We love the views from here, with Cascade towering above. You also have a very nice view down towards Banff as well. We usually take a break here and enjoy the views.
From the Stoney Squaw Lookout, you have two choices:
- Go back the way you came;
- Complete the circuit
We usually complete the circuit, however it is steeper as well as being on a narrower path. There are also steep drop-offs down the forest on the side of the trail. While not an issue for older children and adults, it may not be the best option if you have a lot of young children.
If you don’t want to complete the circuit, then simply go back the way you came.
If you want to complete the Stoney Squaw Circuit, follow the path as it descends through the forest. Along the way the path narrows, steepens and can be tricky for kids and those with low mobility.
Roughly 1.7km from the Stoney Squaw Lookout, you’ll come to another clearing. Go left here and head down to the parking lot. You have very nice views across to Mt Norquay Ski Hill as you descend.
You soon arrive in the parking lot right at the base village buildings of the Mt Norquay Ski Hill. Go left and walk back to your car.
This is a popular trail to do year-round, though bring micro spikes if it is snowy or icy.
This is a popular mountain biking trail, so keep aware and listen for approaching bikers. Most are very courteous, and should be in control and yield to walkers.
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