Best Views and Short Hikes in Banff & Lake Louise

July 15, 2020

Banff & Lake Louise, Alberta have some of the most out-of-this-world views. If you’re looking for somewhere to be blown away by mother nature, this is definitely your spot. Known for their outdoor activities, you can do some crazy hikes here. But; you can also get some amazing views following easy, short hikes and trails! Perfect for beginners or anyone wanting to take it easy one day here are the best views and short hikes in Banff & Lake Louise.

The Best Views and Short Hikes in Banff & Lake Louise


Lake Moraine Pile Trail view the best views and short hikes in Banff and Lake Louise

1. Lake Moraine: Pile Trail

If you only do one thing while in Banff & Lake Louise – make it this. Moraine Lake is about 14km (8 miles) from Lake Louise or just over an hour from Banff. It is well worth the drive as it is one of the most beautiful views you will ever see.

There are two “best views and short hikes” at Lake Moraine that I’m going to talk about, but let’s start first with Pile Trail.

The Pile Trail hike is only a 10 – 15 minute hike from the parking lot. You climb wooden stairs built to get you up what is essentially a rock pile (hence the name) and you’re met with one of the most gorgeous views on the planet. Important Note: You NEED to arrive before 9am as they actually close off the road / parking lot at that time. If you want to experience it with less people though I highly recommend getting there by 7:30am.

2. Lake Moraine Lakeshore Trail

There is also a flat hike that goes around the water’s edge on one side of Lake Moraine. It starts just past the parking lot and is an easy 45 minute (there and back) hike. It’s a great one if you’ve kids with you – there are twists and turns, little foot bridges and you get the beautiful views of Moraine Lake.

best views and short hikes in Banff and Lake Louise Lakeshore trail

3. Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail

If you plan on visiting Lake Louise I highly recommend doing the Lakeshore Trail. Again this is a flat, easy trail takes about 1 hour round trip (it’s 4km / 2.5 miles). There are scenic spots throughout and it’s incredible to be so close to the icy green water. The best part though is the view looking back at the Fairmont Lake Louise! (see below)

lake louise fairmont best views and short hikes in Banff and Lake Louise

4. Bow River Trail / Surprise Corner Viewpoint

This easy 1.5km (1 mile) trail is a paved trail that follows the shoreline of the Bow River. It starts at the edge of downtown Banff and stops at “surprise corner” on the other. Along the walk you’ll see beautiful views of the Bow River and it’s falls. At the surprise corner ending you see a stunning view of the Fairmont Banff. (see below)

5. Tunnel Mountain Trail

This just over 4.5km (3 mile) trail has the highest elevation gain of any trail listed here, so is probably the hardest of these “best views and short hikes in Banff & Lake Louise”. It’s still considered an easy hike though, appropriate for all skill levels/ ages. It consists mostly of switchbacks and the view from the top is worth the leg workout! You get beautiful views facing both sides so be sure to stop and explore at the top!

There you have it! The best views and short hikes in Banff & Lake Louise. Honorable Mention, if you’re wondering, goes to the Peyto Lake hike, but it is closed for the next 9-12 months for maintenance so I’ve left it off this list.

If you’re looking for more travel content be sure to visit the travel category here on LegalLee Blonde!

26 comments so far.

26 responses to “Best Views and Short Hikes in Banff & Lake Louise”

  1. Rach says:

    Wow! So beautiful there! It’s been on my bucket list to visit Banff and Lake Louise!

  2. Lizzie says:

    I’m definitely a hiker and this haas been on my list for years. When things go back to “normal,” I’m scheduling a trip and will keep these hikes in mind! Such a pretty place!


    • Lee says:

      You definitely need to go! I hope they open the border soon so people can travel again. If you book a trip definitely let me know and I’ll give you recommendations for restaurants, hotels, etc!

  3. dousedinpink says:

    I’ve always wanted to plan a trip to Banff! Your photos are magical!

    Jill – Doused in Pink

  4. Brings back such good memories. This region of Canada is absolute heaven on each. Your post is very resourceful and thorough.


  5. Stephanie says:

    I’ll never get over how totally unreal it looks there! I really hope I get a chance to visit Banff & Lake Louise one day because I’d love to experience these views in person. It’s one thing to ogle over the internet, but another to see it with your own eyes!

    • Lee says:

      It totally is! The view at the top of Lake Moraine definitely took my breath away, even though I’d seen it thousands of times in photos. I hope the borders open again in the future and that you can come visit!

  6. jenniferpickering22gmailcom says:

    I’m dying to go to Banff and Lake Louise!

    Curated by Jennifer

  7. Ashley says:

    No place like Banff! I really want to go someday- so gorgeous!

    Le Stylo Rouge

  8. Straight A Style says:

    Russ and I got to visit last year for our 10th anniversary, and it was truly a dream! I love all your tips and photos.

    Amy Ann
    Straight A Style

    • Lee says:

      Aw what a wonderful 10th anniversary trip! I’m so glad you got to visit and had such a good time! Hope you guys are well! <3

  9. gretahollar says:

    I’m dying to visit here! It’s on my bucket list for 2021.

  10. annaefox01 says:

    I’m definitely saving this post for later. I was hoping to visit late this summer/ early fall!

    • Lee says:

      Ah fingers crossed you can visit soon!! I can’t wait for COVID to be a thing of the past and for international travel to start up again. I know it may be a few years but I’m hopeful!

  11. This has been on my bucket list, because of this insanely CLEAR blue beautiful water. I’d love to be in a serene lake right now, and not in this crazy heat in AZ!!

  12. Kim Henrichs says:

    This is one of my dream places to visit!! The color of that lake is just…………….!!

  13. Sarah Lehan says:

    I’d love to go back there. My family went on a vacation to there. So beautiful.

    • Lee says:

      Aw I love that! Perfect spot for a family vacation. I hope you get to visit again! I definitely plan on going back, once is not enough!

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