Hikes Along Icefields Parkway

Region in Banff National Park, Alberta

The Icefields Parkway, otherwise known as Highway 93 North, is a 230km stretch of road that links Lake Louise, in Banff National Park, with the town of Jasper. This epic route is one of the ultimate travel bucket list activities in Canada, providing breathtaking views of the Columbia Icefield even from the road. The best way to experience this iconic, majestic landscape is to get out on to the trails – there’s no better way to connect with the grandeur of nature than by hiking on the Icefields Parkway.

A hiking trip on the Icefields Parkway is sure to take your breath away. You’ll find serene glacial lakes, known for their intense blue waters that perfectly mirror the surrounding mountains, and dense forests, covered in rare wildflowers and ancient trees. Towering above it all are epic mountains and limestone ridges, with dazzling glaciers and permanent icefields. This is a truly remarkable landscape, and one that cries out to be discovered.

Hiking on the Icefields Parkway is sure to leave you with wonderful memories, of epic views and dramatic peaks, tiny rare and delicate flowers, and peaceful alpine lakes. It’s also a wonderful place to discover the rare animals of the Banff National Park, including cougars, black bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, the occasional grizzly bear, moose, mountain lions and countless different types of bird. Whatever you do, don’t forget your camera – this is one of the best places in the world for nature photography.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to the Icefields Parkway today, and enjoy this remarkable part of the Canadian Rockies!

Types Of Hiking On The Icefields Parkway

The Icefields Parkway offers the perfect combination of flat, easy trails and strenuous mountain treks, with plenty of moderate routes in between! There’s something here to suit every hiker, whether you’re a trekking newbie, traveling with family, or looking for a challenge. Many of the best places to stop on the Icefields Parkway are next to gorgeous alpine lakes, with glassy, still waters that reflect the towering peaks that surround them. These lakes are often surrounded by flat, level trails – perfect for families with young children or those who are short on time.

On the other hand, if you’re an experienced hiker, you won’t have to go far to push yourself on some of these Icefields Parkway trails. Many routes rise steeply from the lakes and meadows, passing through wild and dense forests before emerging onto wild, rocky ridges. You may be required to ford streams and rivers or scramble over boulder fields, which makes the hiking all the more fun and exciting!

Easy Hikes On The Icefields Parkway

Warden Lake Hike: If you’re looking for a place for a pleasant evening stroll, look no further than this lovely, easy trail to Warden Lake. In 2014 the entire area was ravaged by wildfires, and this has given rise to profound ecological change. You’ll see a spectacular purple carpet of fireweed, and lush grass, fed by the nutrient-rich soil. This is a wonderful place for wildlife, and you can expect to see birds, deer and sometimes elk around the lake.

Bow Glacier Falls Hike: From the beautiful Bow Lake, this fairly easy trail will take you up a short staircase to the impressive Bow Glacier Falls, surrounded in a cloud of mist and spray. The climb is steep, but mercifully short, and the views at the top and all the way down are simply remarkable. This is a great way to admire the magnificent vista over Bow Lake, without exerting too much energy.

Family Hikes On The Icefields Parkway

Bow Lake Hike: This short, family-friendly hike happens to be one of the prettiest on the Icefields Parkway! With remarkable views over Crowfoot Mountain and the other peaks that surround the lake, there isn’t a dull moment on this lovely trail. The path is level and flat, which makes this a wonderful excursion for the whole family, suitable for kids of all ages.

Peyto Lake Hike: This short walk really packs a punch when it comes to beautiful views and a serene atmosphere. Although the hike is very short, the stunning blue color of the water will take your breath away. This is an excellent family walk, especially with young children, and if you head to the second viewing point as the route guide suggests, you’ll find yourself in a wonderfully peaceful setting.

Day Hikes On The Icefields Parkway

Sunset Viewpoint and Pass Hike: This challenging hike offers a satisfying day out on the Icefields Parkway, with a remarkable variety of scenery in just one trek. You’ll pass dense forest, filled with bright red buffalo berries, gushing waterfalls cascading into deep canyons, dramatic limestone cliffs, picturesque alpine meadows, and truly spectacular mountain views. What more could you ask for?

Nigel Pass Hike: Looking for a satisfying day hike that won’t leave you too exhausted? The Nigel Pass hike is an excellent way to spend an enjoyable day out in the hills, with beautiful views over the craggy limestone peaks. The trail passes by gently flowing creeks, wildflower meadows and atmospheric forest, meaning that you’ll have plenty of interesting things to look at as you walk.

Challenging Hikes On The Icefields Parkway

North Molar Pass: This incredible route is one of the best hikes on the Icefields Parkway, and will take you to a remarkable, vast alpine meadow. Visit in late July or early August when the landscape explodes in a smorgasbord of delicate, colorful flowers, with some rare and remarkable varieties. You simply won’t want to leave. This wonderful hike is a bit of a challenge, but makes for a really rewarding day out in Banff National Park.

Helen Lake and Cirque Peak Hike: Looking for a challenging hike on the Icefields Parkway? Look no further than this strenuous route up to Cirque Peak. This is an excellent day hike for adventurous walkers, with some steep uphill sections and a little scrambling required. However, you’ll be well rewarded for your efforts, enjoying remarkable views all along the trail.

Greatest Hikes On The Icefields Parkway

Parker Ridge Trail Hike: if you’re driving along the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper, consider this short, spectacular trail. Although there’s a steep climb up onto the ridge, this hike is fairly short and easy, and the entire route is decorated with beautiful wildflowers, watered by the melting snows that top the ridge almost year-round.

Wilcox Pass Hike: Attention all glacier fans! This moderate hike is an excellent way to catch a glimpse of the peak and glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, including the epic Athabasca Glacier. You’ll enjoy a carpet of wildflowers, beautiful views over the region, and you may even spot a few fossils at the peak.

Bow Hut Hike: This challenging hike is a lot of fun for experienced hikers, although it requires a little stamina and some technical ability. You’ll scramble over boulder fields and cross over creeks as you hike up to a hut maintained by the Alpine Club of Canada. For a truly memorable experience, book to stay the night in the hut and enjoy a mind-blowing sunrise when you wake up in the morning.

Crowfoot Pass and Balfour Viewpoint Hike: If you want to escape the crowds on some of the more popular trails on the Icefields Parkway, we’d recommend this wonderful hike up Crowfoot Pass. You’ll pass across the beautiful Bow River, through dense forest, and past serene tarns before reaching a magnificent viewpoint with views of the Waputik Icefield and a powerful, tumbling waterfall.

Cirque and Chephren Lakes Hike: The Cirque and Chephren Lakes are two of the lesser-visited sites on the Icefields Parkway, and so this relatively easy hike is a wonderful way to get away from the crowds of keen hikers. The route is straightforward and not too challenging – you simply have to relax and enjoy the beautiful views unfold before you. Look out for red squirrels, delicate orchids and even moose along the trail.

When Is The Best Time To Hike On The Icefields Parkway?

The Icefields Parkway is open throughout most of the year, and it’s possible to drive even in winter, although you will need winter tires and to be prepared for poor driving conditions. For hiking, however, the best season is between May and October, although you won’t be able to access all of the trails we’ve mentioned here in the early and late parts of the season.

For the higher altitude trails, it’s best to come between June and September, as early or late snows can disrupt access to the trails. Even in June and September, you may experience cold weather along the Parkway, so make sure you come well equipped, with sturdy footwear and plenty of layers. July and August are often very busy, with many visitors driving along the Parkway to take advantage of the views. However, you can still find some quieter trails even in peak season, if you do a little research and follow some of our suggestions here.

Other Outdoor Activities On The Icefields Parkway

Although most people visit the Icefields Parkway to drive along this fabulous 230km road and hike some of the fabulous trails around it, there are lots of other outdoor activities on the Icefields Parkway. Cycling is particularly popular, with many tour operators offering road and mountain biking trips that take in all or part of the route. There are also many opportunities to get up onto the ice and enjoy some glacier walks – a truly memorable experience. This region is also an excellent place to try your hand at mountain climbing or even ice climbing.

How To Plan A Trip To The Icefields Parkway

A trip to the Icefields Parkway is a bucket list experience, and one of the highlights of the Canadian Rockies. To help you plan your trip to perfection, we’ve put together a guide to hiking on the Icefields Parkway, complete with recommendations for where to stay, and top tips for the best hiking trails. We’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to – grab your hiking boots and get out onto the trail!

Guide-book quality info for over 8,000 trails

View Hikes Along Icefields Parkway on Map

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Best Hikes in Along Icefields Parkway

Open details for Wilcox Pass

Wilcox Pass

Moderate
9.8 km
409 m
3-4h

The Wilcox Pass hike offers hikers easy access to alpine meadows as well as incredible views of the peaks and glaciers on the eastern edge of the Columbia Icefield. This hike is a must-do when you’re on the Icefields Parkway, and a great trail to enjoy the Athabasca Glacier for free.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.7
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Sunset Viewpoint and Pass

Sunset Viewpoint and Pass

Very Hard
23.3 km
948 m
6.5-9.5h

The hike to Sunset Pass & Sunset Lookout follows a strenuous trail that hikes along a backcountry artery and through a meadow with views to the remote White Goat Wilderness Area. The steep initial ascent means crowds are low, but rewards are high. If you want a shorter day you don’t need to do both hikes.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Helen Lake and Cirque Peak

Helen Lake and Cirque Peak

Very Hard
17.2 km
1,007 m
6-8h

Hiking to Helen Lake and Cirque Peak is a local favourite. From Helen Lake up to Cirque Peak the hike provides incredible views. Be warned that this is a challenging day with steady uphill climbs, particularly the final push to the top of Cirque Peak, which also involves some scrambling.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Advanced (Diamond)
Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
Open details for Bow Glacier Falls

Bow Glacier Falls

Easy
8.4 km
155 m
2-2.5h

The hike to Bow Glacier Falls is exquisite. We love the hike along Bow Lake, however hiking up to Bow Glacier Falls provides enormous and wonderful views.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Peyto Lake Hike

Peyto Lake Hike

Very Easy
2.6 km
80 m
0.5-1h

The hike to the stunning Peyto Lake should be on every Rocky Mountains itinerary. This Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike offers one of the finest views of Peyto Lake on an accessible, family-friendly hike. While the main viewpoint is crowded, make sure to visit the second one, which is often deserted.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
10.0
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Nigel Pass

Nigel Pass

Moderate
16.0 km
376 m
4-5.5h

Hiking to Nigel Pass is a rewarding day hike in the Columbia Icefield area. Nigel Pass is an open meadow with spectacular views into the backcountry of Jasper National Park. This hike is a great trail near the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Bow Lake

Bow Lake

Very Easy
3.4 km
2 m
0.5-1h

Anybody driving the Icefields Parkway should stop in at Bow Lake and do this family-friendly hike. Hiking along the edge of Bow Lake is a great break. Enjoy the great views of a stunning lake on this easy hike.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.8
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Crowfoot Pass and Balfour Viewpoint

Crowfoot Pass and Balfour Viewpoint

Hard
15.5 km
794 m
5-7h

The hike up to Crowfoot Pass and onwards to Balfour Viewpoint provides serene solitude in the remote backcountry. Enjoy a river crossing, a high alpine pass and incredible view of a majestic waterfall. For the adventurous scrambler, the steep rocky Bow Peak Scramble can be added to this trail.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Intermediate (Square)
Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
Open details for Warden Lake

Warden Lake

Very Easy
4.7 km
15 m
1h

The Warden Lake trail is an easy, family-friendly hike through an area that was recently affected by wildfire. With open views of the North Saskatchewan River and the surrounding peaks, this trail is a fun hike for the whole family.

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Open details for Parker Ridge Trail

Parker Ridge Trail

Easy
5.9 km
250 m
1.5-2.5h

Hiking up Parker Ridge unlocks some amazing views of the Saskatchewan Glacier, the largest of the Columbia Icefield’s six valley outlet glaciers. This hike is a great stop when driving the Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper. 

User Ratings
Overall Rating
9.9
Technical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
Physical Difficulty
Easy (Circle)
Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.

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