Scrambles in Banff National Park
Scrambling in Banff
Scrambling in Banff is an exquisite experience, providing views of big mountains and stunning mountain lakes. We’ve compiled the 10 best scrambles in Banff National Park that will lead you through stunning passes and beautiful valleys. Stay on the lookout for game as you explore the best that the national park has to offer on an exhilarating adventure scrambling in Banff.
Banff National Park, nestled in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, is a wonderful base for outdoor activity with many great scrambles throughout the park. Our Top 10 Scrambles range from introductory experiences through to moderately-challenging, all-day adventures. Remember that scrambles aren’t hikes, and most of the calls for rescue come from people who set out on a scramble without knowing what they are getting into. Scrambling requires a head for heights, the use of your hands and often climbing moves. If you haven’t done this before, take a course to learn technique and be safe before trying this on your own.
Here are the 10 Best scrambles in Banff National Park
- Mount Bourgeau (24.0 km, 1,530 m, 7-10h): The scramble up Mount Bourgeau gives way to a commanding view of the Bow Valley near Banff. The trip takes you by scenic Bourgeau Lake and Harvey Pass on the way to the summit, which means you’ll still have an amazing day even if you abort your summit bid.
- Observation Peak (8.0 km, 1,150 m, 5-7h): There is good reason it’s called Observation Peak! The scramble up Observation Peak gives a bird’s eye view of turquoise Peyto Lake and Bow Lake at the base of glaciated giants on the continental divide.
- Helena Ridge (24.5 km, 1,600 m, 6-9h): Scrambling to the summit of Helena Ridge offers the best view of the amazing Castle Mountain Plateau. Along the way you’ll see scenic lakes, fossils, and lovely old-growth forest that will keep you entertained on the approach.
- Paget Peak (9.8 km, 965 m, 5-7h): Scrambling Paget Peak offers a spectacular view of the glaciated peaks of the Great Divide and a fantastic aerial view of turquoise Sherbrooke Lake. An old fire lookout en route offers a wonderful place for a sheltered snack and serves as a nice backup plan should the weather turn.
- Cascade Mountain (19.0 km, 1,550 m, 6-10h): Scrambling up Cascade Mountain is a must-do scramble for anyone in the Canadian Rockies. Towering over the Bow Valley, the iconic Cascade Mountain provides a spectacular view of Lake Minnewanka, the Banff Town site, and hundreds of surrounding peaks.
- Bow Peak (13.2 km, 950 m, 6-9h): The scramble up Bow Peak takes you on an adventurous river crossing and an incredibly scenic forest walk to an isolated alpine pas. Giving way to incredible views of peaks and the icefields, the Bow Peak scramble is a classic Canadian Rockies adventure.
- Little Hector (8.6 km, 1,250 m, 5-8h): Scrambling up Mount Hector gives way to a commanding and up-close view of Hector glacier from the summit of Little Hector. The lookout provides a scenic punch to the glacial lakes, mountains, and icefields surrounding the peak.
- Mount Richardson (21.8 km, 1,350 m, 6-9h): Scrambling Mount Richardson calls for an ascension of the highest peak in the world-famous Skoki region. Go in late September and you’ll see striking yellow larches dotting the approach and mountain ridges, making this a particularly colorful scramble.
- The Onion (20.0 km, 975 m, 6-9h): The scramble up to The Onion brings you incredibly close to the Wapta Icefield. It is a very rewarding day out that has everything including tarns, glaciers, and great rock formations.
- Panorama Ridge (9.8 km, 960 m, 5-7h): This challenging scramble has incredible views combined with a very challenging ascent over moving scree. Some people rate this much higher, however the challenging ascent does hamper an otherwise brilliant scramble.
Other Activities in Banff National Park
Scrambling in Banff is a great activity for thrill seekers visiting the Rockies, but there are plenty of other things to do in Banff National Park that can be experienced year-round. From hiking and backpacking to snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, the below list of activities in Banff National Park should provide you with endless adventure opportunities:
Banff National Park Tours
Many people want to experience the beauty of Banff but either don't know where to begin planning or simply can't be bothered. Try booking one of these amazing tours in Banff National Park if you want to leave the planning to the professionals and focus on the life changing journey ahead:
Get the 10Adventures App
Looking to experience the wilderness of Banff National Park on your own? The 10Adventures trail app is a great resource that will keep you safe and sound while out on the trails. If you want to safely and easily navigate the trails offline, while also tracking the stats of your hike, bike, or snowshoeing adventure then make sure to download the 10Adventures app before setting out on your next adventure!
Best Scrambles in Banff National Park
When choosing to scramble up the Devil’s Thumb, you’ll pass by famous landmarks on your way. When you reach the Big Beehive junction, you’ll leave the crowds behind, taking the less travelled route to new heights. Enjoy solitude and views of both Lake Louise and Lake Agnes from high above. The Devil’s Thumb is known to cast a thumb-like shadow below, so aim for perfect conditions to catch this phenomenon.
Mount Niblock and Whyte
Completing the Mount Niblock and Mount Whyte circuit in Lake Louise requires a lot of effort and concern for safety, but it is an exciting adventure that takes scramblers beyond the usual Lake Louise experience. This trail will surely require a reward when accomplished!
This challenging scramble begins at the famous Moraine Lake and ascends one of the tallest peaks in the Canadian Rockies. You’ll need to be prepared and know the route well before attempting Mount Temple, as you’ll find yourself slogging up scree, scrambling rock bands, and possibly coming in close range of cornices. It sounds intimidating, but the effort is rewarded! The trail gains elevation from Moraine Lake through Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass—two remarkable hikes—before becoming more technical towards the summit. You’ll surmount a great deal of elevation gain, leaving you feeling like you’re on top of the world. Glaciers, lakes, and surrounding peaks come into view, leaving those who take on this challenge feeling extremely rewarded.
Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel Scramble is a technical route that requires hands-on movements, helmets, and a good sense of where you are going. It is an incredibly rewarding scramble and a great way to take things to the next level. The top is a large plateau and the perfect place to take in views of Moraine Lake away from the crowds.
Scrambling to the summit of Mount Cory is reserved for experienced hikers and scramblers. This steep trail is a grind from the start, taking hikers from the valley floor to the peak of Mount Cory. This scramble is exhilarating and provides incredible high alpine views without a long approach. If you are ready to use all fours, this scramble is for you.
Mount Bell is one of Banff National Park’s big scrambles, and it can be approached from two sides. Tackling this scramble from Boom Lake Trail is a great way to get to the peak! Boom Lake Trail is an easy way to get you to the base of impressive Mount Bell, which makes the exit a lot more enjoyable.
The scramble to the summit of Mount Redoubt takes hikers through the incredible Skoki area, which is popular for backpackers and horseback riders. You will begin on the less busy side of the Bow Valley at the Lake Louise Ski Resort and follow flowing creeks up Boulder Pass before reaching views of Ptarmigan Lake and Redoubt Lake from Mount Redoubt.
Caldron Peak is a scramble that requires a lot of effort. There are creek crossings, glaciers, multiple alpine lakes, and scree slopes that feel like you are walking backwards. Expect continually changing views and incredible landmarks to reward you the entire way! Glacial lakes cascade into each other between waterfalls and icefields along this beautiful trail.
Locals stare at Mount Rundle day in and day out, enough to acquire a personal relationship with the impressive feature. Its stark angle, and swirling weather are enough to push hikers to the top. It is one of those peaks that calls hikers to its summit. It begins with switchbacks through the forest and becomes more technical as it rises with dangerous slab and frustrating scree all the way to the top. The summit rises high above the town of Banff, giving expansive views of the ranges surrounding it.
Mount Edith scramble begins with the unsuspecting Cory Pass hike before branching off to the right to begin gaining Mount Edith. There is a north and south route that each have their own great features. Mount Edith is a gripping adventure for those who are ready to take on something more technical.
- Technical Difficulty
- Physical Difficulty
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Other Activities in Banff National Park
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