Paradise Valley

Banff
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Paradise Valley

Distance: 15.2km
Elevation: 235m
Time: 3-5h

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Snowshoeing in Paradise Valley, near Lake Louise, is stunning, with incredible scenery. In winter it is also rare to find others enjoying this spectacular valley. While going deep into Paradise Valley opens up risk of avalanches, we love poking around before there is any avalanche danger.

Getting there

Drive up the hill towards Chateau Lake Louise and park in one of the lots to the left of the Chateau. Park at the back of the main parking lot in the southern corner, by a kiosk and the start of the Fairview XC ski trail.

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About

When to do

December - April

Mountain Huts

No

Toilets

Trailhead

Pets allowed

Yes - On Leash

Avalanche Risk

Challenging

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Poor

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Circuit


Elevation


Detailed Description

Anyone on a snowshoe trip should have Avalanche training, we recommend AST 2 for all backcountry travellers, and AST 1 is the minimum. It is important to note that when travelling through avalanche terrain it is extremely valuable to always have a companion.

From the Lake Louise public parking lot, walk to the far (SE) end of the parking lot, where you reach a kiosk and the start of the Fairview XC trail. Don’t take the Tramline trail, which goes down to the left, but take the Fairview trail which goes to the right. We love snowshoeing out on Fairview and coming back on the Highline Trail from Paradise Creek.

While snowshoeing on any XC trail, take great care not to snowshoe on the ski tracks, as it ruins it for XC skiers and you may hear about from an annoyed skier.

Follow the Fairview Trail for roughly 4.0km, until you come to a junction. Don’t take the route to the left, which takes you down to Paradise Creek parking lot on the Moraine Lake Road, which is closed in winter. Instead go right and follow the summer hiking trail make your way uphill, with Paradise Creek about 100m to your left.

After about 800m you come to another junction. In winter you may not notice this junction as the snowshoe trail will likely only go one way. Either way, go right at this junction and continue on the summer hiking path up Paradise Valley. This is also part of the winter snowshoe Highline Trail. (Note: If you go left you cross over Paradise Creek and goes up to Little Temple, a pleasant summer hiking destination).

Stay on the Highline Snowshoe trail for 250m and then go left, again back on the summer Paradise Valley hiking trail. The trail goes through the trees for roughly 2.0km, before it drops down to Paradise Creek. There are a series of bridges along the trail here, and the views up Paradise Valley are incredible.

We usually have lunch along Paradise Creek, before continuing to explore up Paradise Valley. We don’t like to go too far up the valley, and you can see on our map we only explored about 400m on this day. We don’t go up Paradise Valley too far due to the number of slide paths and big avalanche features farther up the valley.

Once you’ve explored Paradise Valley, turn around and head back the way you came. You’ll make a bit of a different route back, as once you hit the Highline Snowshoe Trail (Trail #17), go left and follow this path back to Lake Louise. The Highline snowshoe trail is not nearly as scenic as the Fairview trail, however it is shorter and makes for a unique route.

Insider Hints

  • We love Lake Louise in winter, and strongly suggest booking a weekend here. There are typically great discounts for Alberta Residents and Lake Louise Ski pass holders at most of the hotels in the region.

  • Check out the ice castle on Lake Louise, it’s a fun feature they do each year.

  • Snowshoeing in the Banff takes you into remote terrain. Make sure you are prepared for an emergency with warm clothes, extra food, matches and ideally a satellite transceiver, like a Garmin InReach. Cell phones do not work until you get to Canmore.

  • Always check the avalanche forecast for Banff before heading out.

Comments

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Karin Mac2 weeks ago

I love heading to Paradise Valley in winter. I’ve been there three times and each time it is stellar.

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