Panorama of the Stanley Glacier hike in Banff National Park, Alberta
Panorama of the Stanley Glacier hike in Banff National Park, Alberta

Stanley Glacier hike

Kootenay National Park
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Stanley Glacier hike

Distance: 7.1mi
Elevation: 1,864ft
Time: 3-4h

Difficulty Rating:

User Ratings:
9.6 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty

The Stanley Glacier hike in beautiful Kootenay National Park is a true delight. The trail goes from burnt forest with mesmerizing wildflowers, to alpine meadow, to the amazing Stanley Glacier. This gentle climb has it all – complete with beautiful cascading waterfalls too!

Stanley Glacier hike Map

Getting there

Going west along the Trans-Canada Highway from Banff, turn south at Castle Junction towards Radium highway 93. The Stanley Glacier parking lot is on the left side of the road, four kilometers from the provincial border.

I’ve done this 59 people have done this
I want to do this 139 want to do this route

About

When to do

June through October

Backcountry Campsites

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Moderate

Route Type

Out and back


Stanley Glacier
Elevation Graph


Route Description for Stanley Glacier

Proceed over the Vermillion River Footbridge and start up the trail. The burnt forest characterizes the beginning of the trail, as it was struck by lightning in 1968. The amazing wildflowers that grow in this area are truly stunning, and the lack of foliage allows for more frequent viewpoints. Watch out if you are attempting this hike during high winds, as the tree branches are brittle and can break off.

Climb steadily up switchbacks until you reach a river formed by the runoff of the Stanley Glacier –this is roughly 1.2mi into the hike. Cross the creek then continue beside it as the forest around you slims. The climbing is not as strenuous as you enter a pristine alpine meadow with incredible views in all directions. Many waterfalls run down to either side of the valley in spring and early summer. The trail from here continues ahead, with the wonderful Stanley Glacier on your right-hand side.

You can see a path rising on both sides of the valley up ahead. This is an optional ascent to a great viewing area, which adds 1.9mi and 787ft onto the hike (the GPS track shows this route). You reach the decision point 2.6mi into the trail, and the sign denotes that the end of the maintained route has arrived. If you want to continue, immediately enter a boulder field and start to climb up. It’s steep, but the views make it worthwhile.

The highest point you will reach is a group of trees on a plateau. From here you can choose to turn back and return the way you came or continue through the trees, across a stream and down the other side of the valley. We prefer the circuit as it gives different views of the side walked up. Rejoin the main path and continue down the way you came up, enjoying great scenery across the main valley to Mount Whymper.

If you don’t do the extension, then this is a perfect hike for the youngsters in the group. It is not too long, has plenty of scenery changes, and great views.

Find other great hikes in Kootenay National Park:

Insider Hints

  • Stop off or stay at the wonderful Storm Mountain Lodge. The food is delicious and the historic cabins are usually reasonable.

Comments

tamglen 3 months ago

Highly recommend this hike. First 4 km are quite easy as described. If you are physically able do not miss the additional 3 km loop. The ascent is steep and the descent is equally tricky with loose rock/ gravel. However the views are so worth it.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
andrea.hothi 12 months ago

Beginning was really great with a nice path and beautiful views and a waterfall, but then it got very rocky and the views didn't pay off like at the beginning.

8.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3h 7m Time Taken
YukihiroSato 1 year ago

There are so many beautiful views to see here.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
AnnSue 1 year ago

This trail was less strenuous compared to Ball pass and Floe Lake. There were more meadows and wildflowers in here. Wonderful view of the glaciers .

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
4h 00m Time Taken
Hiking-eh 1 year ago

This is a nice hike. Long long beautiful views of the mountains and valley.

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
lukeboii 1 year ago

wicked mountain scenery. packs a lot into a pretty quick hike- waterfalls, wildflowers, the works.

WendyMag. 1 year ago

Terrific views. Moderate hike. You'll be amazed from beginning to the end.

9.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
isaacanderson 1 year ago

Perfect wonderland with amazing views!

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
Tara Green 1 year ago

A great trail with amazing views of the Stanley Glacier

10.0 Overall Rating
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Physical Difficulty
3h 00m Time Taken
Meighan 1 year ago

The subsiding glacier and the mountain views are amazing.

10.0 Overall Rating
Technical Difficulty
Physical Difficulty
3h 30m Time Taken
26 Comments Show all

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