Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
Spring is a tricky time of year in the Bow Valley for hiking due to wet and often unpredictable weather and therefore trail conditions. Anyone who complains that “…we’re having such strange weather this week” during the spring must be new to town. Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies are often hikes that can be done all year, but we think you’ll enjoy them the most earlier in the year. You can truly experience all four seasons in a day, so make sure you double check the trail reports and pack a waterproof jacket!
Local Favourite: Lake Agnes Trail to Plain of Six Glaciers Trail Loop, Lake Louise (10.8 km / Moderate)
You might hear people criticize that Lake Louise gets too overcrowded, but you’ll rarely hear anyone claim it’s overrated. Lake Louise is simply breathtaking. A sight to behold once you arrive, the views get so much better once you are above the lake! Be prepared to leave early in the morning to get a parking spot or use the park and ride shuttle service a few kilometers south of Lake Louise. Be warned even the bus parking lot will fill up on busier days like weekends and holidays.
This trail is so enjoyable as there’s so much to see and it can be adapted and altered depending on the fitness, experience and interest level of your group. The length (and difficulty) of the trail almost doubles if you take every detour. Boot grips are recommended, even in late spring.
Most approach this route counter-clockwise, which takes you up to Mirror Lake and then along to Lake Agnes. There, you’ll find the Lake Agnes Teahouse, an incredible spot to grab a snack if you wish (bring cash). You can then take a quick detour to the Little Beehive where you get an excellent view over Lake Louise while marveling at how far you have ascended. Walking around Lake Agnes, you have a choice, you can either take the Devil’s Thumb Trail around (where you can summit the Devil’s Thumb this way if you wish), or clamber up the much steeper Big Beehive. Majestic views of Lake Louise reward those who reach the end of the Big Beehive.
You might find the crowds thinning out as you head towards the Plain of Six Glaciers along the Highline Trail. The glaciers will come into view, and before any feelings of insignificance set in, you’ll have to decide on whether to drop down to the trail below and head back to Lake Louise or continue to the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House for another pit stop and even more exquisite views of the glaciers. You might hear them cracking in the distance on warmer days. Also known as the “Tea House Challenge” taking in both tea house is a fantastic experience. Either way, you will finish up walking beside Lake Louise to get back into the town.
More Spring Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
Tunnel Mountain at Banff Townsite (4.5 km / Moderate)
Splendid views overlooking Banff and the surrounding area. A good “tune-up” hike to get into the season.
Boom Lake in Kootenay National Park (10.8 km / Easy)
A more relaxed day hike, especially for families. Nature all around with lots of good rest spots.
Jewell Pass via Prairie View Trail in Kananaskis (15.9 km / Moderate)
A popular yet respectable hike, offering wonderful views and a great way for beginners to feel good about themselves.
Mount Baldy in Kananaskis (6.4 km / Hard)
This hike climbs almost a kilometer in elevation gain, but wonderful views of the Elbow-Sheep Wildland await those who make it to the top.