The Tunnel Mountain hike gives you a short respite away from the crowded streets of Banff. The viewpoint from the top of the trail is beautiful, making you feel like you’re immersed in nature, despite the hordes shopping on Banff Ave just a kilometer away.
This can be accessed on foot from Banff Avenue in the Banff town site. There is parking on St. Julien Road if you choose to go by car.
|When to do|
Out and back
After picking up your morning coffee and pastries (might we suggest Wild Flour Bakery), head out on Wolf Street to start your hike up Banff’s Tunnel Mountain.
When you get to the “T”, continue right along St. Julien Road. Walk for 0.4km (approximately 6 minutes) until you see a grass-covered parking lot on your left-hand side. If you come to the Banff Centre, you’ve gone too far. The path to Tunnel Mountain is well marked and continues up from the left-hand side of the parking lot.
Cutting through the forest, you quickly cross over another road (Tunnel Mountain Drive, which has another car park, though it’s smaller). From here on up, the hike consists of moderate switchbacks to the top of Tunnel Mountain.
While walking, you get glimpses of the Banff town site and adjacent mountains. You will notice that the noise of the roads quickly disappears to be replaced by the sounds of scurrying chipmunks and squirrels darting in the trees as well as the gentle songs of the birds.
At your final switchback there will be a ledge on your right-hand side, with several areas that have a high degree of exposure. There are railings put up for protection, but be aware, and keep young children close by.
The final push to the top of Tunnel Mountain rewards you with a beautiful smooth rock viewing area. This is a great place to enjoy the sun, fine views and have a snack. There is an additional opportunity to explore past this point, with a 5-10 minute walk leading to a grassy meadow.
To descend from Tunnel Mountain, make sure you go back on the route you came up on.
This is a busy hike; so starting early or late increases the possibility for tranquility and solitude. We recommend this as an after-dinner hike in summer, though ensure you start early enough to finish while the light is still good.
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