Canadian Rockies: Banff, Yoho & Kananaskis

Guided Walking Tour, Canadian Rockies: Banff, Yoho & KananaskisGuided Walking Tour, Canadian Rockies: Banff, Yoho & Kananaskis

Canadian Rockies

Banff, Yoho & Kananaskis

overview

Canada’s Banff region is known for its monumental parks—and crowds. But your own experience in this World Heritage wilderness will follow paths far less traveled. You’ll discover hidden gems like Rummel Lake, whose location beneath imposing Mount Galatea is a perfect picnic spot, and Robertson Glacier, where braided creek channels lead to a secret heather-scented meadow. Watch for mountain goats, eagles, moose, elk, bighorn sheep, bears, and ptarmigan as you follow primeval forest paths. Emerge at waterfalls and cirques ringed by snow-covered peaks like Mount Assiniboine, Canada’s Matterhorn. The spectacular backcountry is filled with scenes like moose ruminating in the wallow near your lodge. Mount Engadine Lodge accommodates you in rustic comfort with sumptuous, familystyle meals featuring local organic produce, meats, and wines. Likewise, Emerald Lake Lodge enfolds you in unexpected luxury in this glorious wilderness setting.

 

Activity Level
Moderate;
5-10 miles daily
Meet
Canmore, Alberta
Depart
Banff, Alberta
Daily Itinerary
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Guided Walking 
6 days, 5 nights Trip Includes 

Trip Includes

  • Two expert, local guides (for groups of 8 or more), with you 24/7
  • All meals except for one dinner; local wine or beer included with dinners
  • All accommodations while on tour
  • Transportation from the meeting point to the departure point
  • Entrance fees and special events as noted in the itinerary
  • Basic travel insurance coverage
  • The unbeatable and cumulative experience of the CW staff
per person double occupancy
Solo surcharge + $0
 

2014 Single supplement + $975
2015 Single supplement + $850
Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

REQUEST RESERVATION
Number of Travelers
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per person double occupancy

Call 800.234.6900 to book this trip.

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Itinerary and Accommodations

Days
Destination
1
Canmore
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2
Canmore
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3
Canmore
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4
Field
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5
Field
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6
Field
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Day 1

Canmore

Chester Lake Trail, moderate, 5.6 miles, elevation gain, 1,030 ft.

After meeting in Canmore, you transfer through lush conifer corridors to your lovely lodge home for the next three nights. The start of the first walk is just outside the lodge door, with a destination of Chester Lake, a beautiful subalpine lake, at a maximum elevation of 7,280 feet. Beginning along a quiet, narrow trail scented with heather and berry bushes, a series of elevation gains are interspersed with flat areas through alpine meadows filled with elephant head, fleabane, and colorful Indian paintbrush. This amazing array of summer alpine flowers transitions to autumn colors, as the larch trees change from green to gold into September. Lake Chester, its surface often punctuated by leaping trout, is encircled by an amphitheater of rock and awe-inspiring peaks—the Fortress, Gusty Peak, Mount Galatea, and Mount Chester. In fact, these mountains are known locally as the Battleship Range because they have been named after either famous battleships or people who were involved in World War I. Initially you return along the same route for a little over a mile, then break off along a different trail to return to the lodge. The region is renowned for grizzly bears, which love to feed on the many glacier lilies; your guides are alert to the signs, however, and keep you close and safe.

At the conclusion of today’s walk, you return to the cozy, welcoming lodge to enjoy a cup of tea or glass of wine on the wrap-around deck overlooking Moose Meadow. A welcome dinner is in the lodge’s restaurant, where an exquisite meal of local mountain specialties awaits.

*Please note: An alternative trail of comparable terrain will be used in the event of trail closing due to wildlife activity.

Mount Engadine Lodge

An intimate backcountry mountain lodge set in a beautiful alpine meadow at 6,200 feet in the heart of Kananaskis Country, complete with outdoor sauna and wrap-around deck overlooking the stunning Moose Meadow. The Mount Engadine Lodge is the proud recipient of the coveted ALTO award through Travel Alberta for the category of Sustainable Tourism.

Day 2

Canmore

Burstall Pass; 10 miles, moderate to challenging (1,567-ft elevation gain),  or easy to moderate, 5-6 miles

After a bountiful breakfast, a short drive brings you to the start of the Burstall Pass trail in Peter Longheed Provincial Park. The wide trail runs level through light forest, where you may hear the drum of a Lewis’s woodpecker in search of insects or perhaps spot a grazing mule deer. Crossing a creek over a small footbridge, you enter the wide gravel alluvial flats, an area of glacial sediment deposited by streams at the base of Robertson Glacier. Silver wolf willow abounds as you traverse the flats and braided creek channels. Those who wish for a shorter option today return to the lodge from here. Others continue with a short climb leading to a dense alpine forest that opens to a beautiful heather-filled meadow in a hanging valley. A healthy ptarmigan population inhabits the meadow year-round.

Larch trees surround and rim the alpine plateau, as you ascend to a bluff where you encounter Burstall Pass itself. The expansive and impressive view is an amphitheater of mountains; through the pass, you take in Mount Assiniboine—Canada’s Matterhorn—to the south you see Mount Sir Douglas; to the east, Mount Birdwood and an eagle’s-eye view of the valley of Burstall Creek.

Upon your return to the lodge, you can relax and marvel at the mountain view. Your day’s adventure is rewarded with another culinary feast that concludes with a decadent homemade dessert, perhaps topped with in-season Saskatoon berries.

Mount Engadine Lodge

An intimate backcountry mountain lodge set in a beautiful alpine meadow at 6,200 feet in the heart of Kananaskis Country, complete with outdoor sauna and wrap-around deck overlooking the stunning Moose Meadow. The Mount Engadine Lodge is the proud recipient of the coveted ALTO award through Travel Alberta for the category of Sustainable Tourism.

Day 3

Canmore

Barrier Lookout Trail, 8.2 miles, moderate, elevation gain of 1,550 ft

This morning you embark on a stunning drive along the Smith Dorrien Spray Trail, a scenic gravel road, where elk and bighorn sheep often graze along the roadside. The journey takes you to Elbow Sheep Wildland, the north end of Kananaskis Country and the start of the Ptarmigan Cirque, a high mountain bowl between Mount Arethusa and Mount Rae.

You begin climbing up the Highwood pass through a forest of alpine larch, subalpine fir, and Engelmann spruce. Along the way, the wooded path opens and levels out into a breathtaking circular alpine meadow filled with wildflowers, complete with a glacial stream. As you bask in the grand views of the meadow and surrounding mountain peaks, you enjoy a trailside snack by the waterfall while keeping an eye out for bighorn sheep.

After descending via the same route, you board your van(s) for the 50-minute drive to the Barrier Lookout trail, again along a road that offers the possibility of spotting more wildlife. The walk begins on a trail skirting the edge of Barrier Lake, eventually intersecting a trail that climbs to another trail with undulating terrain. Over a distance of more than two miles, and with two large steps in elevation, you make the gradual ascent through a forest, finally reaching Prairie View Lookout and its stunning views of the Kananaskis Valley. After enjoying a perfect lunch spot at the highest point of 5,812 feet, you return along a shorter route that descends back to the trailhead, closing this loop walk. Later, you return to the lodge to savor the Rocky Mountain tranquility and view the alpenglow on the peaks looming through the trees. Tonight you dine on regional favorites served at the lodge.

Mount Engadine Lodge

An intimate backcountry mountain lodge set in a beautiful alpine meadow at 6,200 feet in the heart of Kananaskis Country, complete with outdoor sauna and wrap-around deck overlooking the stunning Moose Meadow. The Mount Engadine Lodge is the proud recipient of the coveted ALTO award through Travel Alberta for the category of Sustainable Tourism.

Day 4

Field

Bow Lake; 6 miles, easy to moderate. Transfer to Field, British Columbia

Located a short distance from the Icefields Parkway, Bow Lake is the third-largest lake in Banff National Park. It is also the headwater of the Bow River. The lake is fed by the meltwater from Bow Glacier, one of six outlet valley glaciers of the Wapta Icefield. Today’s walk follows the lakeshore, eventually reaching an overlook of Bow Glacier. Pioneer outfitter and guide Jimmy Simpson spent the winters of the early 1900s hunting and trapping in the remote country north of Bow Lake.

Your home for the next two nights is a comfortable lodge, a sanctuary in the National Park. Nestled along the glacial Emerald Lake, the Emerald Lake Lodge consists of a series of individual cabins. Each one is perfectly appointed, with down duvets, large outdoor decks, and fireplaces—a true oasis. This evening you enjoy dinner at your leisure.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Field, British Columbia, Canada

Although larger than the previous property and less intimate, this beautifully restored lodge set on the shores of stunning Emerald Lake offers exceptional service, individual townhouse-style units, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Please note that lake views are not guaranteed.

Day 5

Field

Takakkaw Falls to Iceline Trail to Yoho Lake; 6 miles, moderate to challenging (1,400-ft. elevation gain) or Takakkaw Falls to Laughing Falls; 6 miles, easy

Today’s walk begins in the Yoho Valley at Takakkaw Falls. After a short warm-up on a flat trail, you ascend a slope past Whiskey Jack Falls, passing 300- to 400-year-old spruce trees, some of the oldest in Yoho National Park. Eventually you reach the Iceline Trail, having enjoyed the last mile of panoramic views of the Yoho Valley and Dally Glacier. Turning on to the Highline Trail you follow it to your next destination of Yoho Lake. The first white explorer to reach the lake was Ralph Edwards in 1897, when he wrote that the lake was, “...a marvelously beautiful lake, not much larger than a little pond, but of an exquisite ultramarine colour.”

After enjoying lunch at this quiet spot, you continue on the trail around the edge of the lake, winding through a colorful wetland of wildflowers that offers brief glimpses of Yoho Valley. The trail starts to descend, bringing you back around to Whiskey Jack Falls before looping back to your starting point at Takakkaw Falls. With luck you may spot moose, hoary marmots, or pika, or be visited by a whiskey jack, the small, sociable bird that gave its name to the falls. Common vegetation includes bunchberry, Indian paintbrush, queens cup, and foamflower.

Today’s other option leaves Takakkaw Falls heading along the valley floor. The trail meanders through a forest with the west bank of the Yoho River grazing the trail. The soft-green verdant forest floor offers plants and mushrooms not seen elsewhere in the area, plus viewing spots of the wild rapids of the Yoho River. Laughing Falls offers a picnic spot, with the cataracts and sparkling stream presenting an enriching vista. After lunch you head back down the trail, taking a slight detour to visit Point Lace Falls. As the name suggests, this delicately patterned waterfall is in direct contrast to Takakkaw Falls.

Regardless of the option, you have the chance to walk up the short half-mile interpretive trail to view the base of Takakkaw Falls. Here you experience the thunderous roar and enjoy the rainbow-infused spray of glacial water descending from this 836-foot-high waterfall. A final feast is served this evening at the lodge, where you raise your glass and toast the Canadian wilderness and your new friends.

Emerald Lake Lodge

Field, British Columbia, Canada

Although larger than the previous property and less intimate, this beautifully restored lodge set on the shores of stunning Emerald Lake offers exceptional service, individual townhouse-style units, and an outdoor Jacuzzi. Please note that lake views are not guaranteed.

Day 6

Field

Guide’s choice; 5 miles, easy to moderate. Departure from Banff

Early risers walking alongside Emerald Lake may have a final opportunity to hear loons calling and perhaps spot a moose among the supple willows and alders.

After a final breakfast at the lodge, you drive back toward Banff. The morning walk depends largely on the weather and is chosen from the repertoire of highlights along the route. Excellent views of nearby mountains are accompanied by the possibility of elk and deer sightings during a picnic lunch. You arrive in Banff by late afternoon, where you bid farewell to your newfound friends.

Itinerary Disclaimer

Bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual activities, sites, and accommodations may vary due to season, special events, weather, or transportation schedules. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. If you are currently booked on a CW adventure, an itinerary has been sent to you for your exact departure date. Please call CW at 800.464.9255 if you have any questions about the exact itinerary or hotels selected for any of our tours.

Guides

Brenda Holder

Born and raised in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Brenda has spent many years exploring the valleys surrounding her home. In addition to holding certifications as a professional interpretive guide, a qualified bear guide, and a nordic ski instructor, Brenda is a traditional Métis guide with excellent tracking skills. Brenda enjoys sharing expertise handed down from her Cree medicine woman grandmothers while guiding our Canadian Rockies walking tours.

Dave Holder

Originally a native of England, and trained as a Mountain Expedition leader, Dave moved to the Rocky Mountains and certified as a professional Canadian Guide. In addition to Canada, he has led hiking and climbing groups in Europe, Africa, Belize, the U.S. and the Falkland Islands. He encourages people to fall in love with nature and discover its intricate habitats. When not guiding Dave can be found fly-fishing or painting watercolors.

Guest Comments

M. Chew, Georgia, August 2010

Spectacular scenery, top-notch accommodations, expert guides, fascinating hikes—these create the unique blend of challenge, discovery, and fun which distinguishes CW tours and keeps us coming back year after year.

N. Flam, California, July 2011

The Canadian Rockies hiking adventure with CW was fabulous! Our hiking guides, Hugh and David were wonderful and were very accommodating on the various hiking skill levels of the group, the lodging and food accommodations were great! I would definitely recommend CW to anyone looking for a great experience!

C. & K. Lynch, Connecticut, July 2011

The guides, Hugh Palmer and Dave Holder, were very knowledgeable of the area and full of information, enthusiasm and humor. We had great fun hiking that beautiful country. The lodgings and food provided were excellent. Besides Canada in 2011, we also hiked with CW in Bavaria (2008) and Yellowstone (2006). We are looking forward to another wonderful experience with CW in Ireland, Connemara and Galway Bay this month! 

D. Larson, Illinois, September 2010

This is a unique and enjoyable way to visit an area escorted by extraordinary guides. Bravo CW! This was our inaugural trip with CW and we are eager to do more.

M. Ring, Wisconsin, July 2011

It was absolutely beautiful. The guides were outstanding. Another fabulous experience with CW. I joined our tribe and was guided to a wonderful place.

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