Icefields hiking trails, Alberta
Trail of the Helen Lake hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

hikes Along Icefields Parkway

Region in Banff National Park, Alberta
Icefields Parkway trail map

Hikes Along Icefields Parkway

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!

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The best hikes Along Icefields Parkway

Trail of the Helen Lake hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

01. Helen Lake and Cirque Peak
Difficulty

17.2km 1,007m 6-8h

Hiking to Helen Lake and Cirque Peak is a local favourite. From Helen Lake up… Read More

User Rating

9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the North Molar Pass hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

02. North Molar Pass
Difficulty

23.9km 737m 7-10h

The hiking trail to North Molar Pass takes you to one of the most amazing,… Read More

User Rating

9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Parker Ridge hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

03. Parker Ridge Trail
Difficulty

5.9km 250m 1.5-3h

Hiking up Parker Ridge unlocks some amazing views of the Saskatchewan Glacier, the largest of… Read More

User Rating

9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Wilcox Pass hike on Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

04. Wilcox Pass
Difficulty

9.8km 409m 3-4h

The Wilcox Pass hike offers hikers easy access to alpine meadows as well as incredible… Read More

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9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
The path of the Rae Glacier Hike in Kananaskis, near Canmore

05. Bow Glacier Falls
Difficulty

8.4km 155m 2-3.5h

The hike to Bow Glacier Falls is exquisite. We love the hike along Bow Lake,… Read More

User Rating

9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike from Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

06. Peyto Lake Hike
Difficulty

2.6km 80m 0.5-1h

The hike to the stunning Peyto Lake should be on every Rocky Mountains itinerary. This… Read More

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10Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Peyto Lake Viewpoint hike from Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

07. Sunset Viewpoint and Pass
Difficulty

23.3km 948m 7-10h

The hike to Sunset Pass & Sunset Lookout follows a strenuous trail that hikes along… Read More

User Rating

9.4Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Nigel Pass hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

08. Nigel Pass
Difficulty

16.0km 376m 5-6h

Hiking to Nigel Pass is a rewarding day hike in the Columbia Icefield area. Nigel… Read More

User Rating

9.7Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Bow Hut hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

09. Bow Lake
Difficulty

3.4km 2m 1-1.5h

Anybody driving the Icefields Parkway should stop in at Bow Lake and do this family-friendly… Read More

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The stairs to the falls on the Bow Glacier Falls Hike from the Icefields Parkway near Banff National Park

10. Bow Hut
Difficulty

15.6km 555m 4-6h

Hiking to Bow Hut is a wonderful way to hike the day away if you're… Read More

User Rating

8.8Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

Yes, there are more than 10

Along Icefields Parkway is so beautiful that we can not give you only 10 hikes. So here is a list of bonus hikes in Along Icefields Parkway that you should take a look at as well

Scenery from the Crowfoot Pass hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

11. Crowfoot Pass and Balfour Viewpoint
Difficulty

15.5km 794m 5-7h

The hike up to Crowfoot Pass and onwards to Balfour Viewpoint provides serene solitude in… Read More

User Rating

9.5Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Trail of the Warden Lake hike on Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

12. Warden Lake
Difficulty

4.7km 15m 1-2h

The Warden Lake trail is an easy, family-friendly hike through an area that was recently… Read More

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10Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty
Scenery from the Cirque & Chephren Lakes hike along Icefields Parkway, the Canadian Rockies

13. Cirque & Chephren Lakes
Difficulty

14.6km 322m 3-5h

Hiking around Cirque & Chephren Lakes is an easy hike that goes to two classic,… Read More

User Rating

9.3Overall Rating Technical Difficulty Physical Difficulty

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