No matter where you go in Banff you will be met with the most breathtaking scenery. From glistening glaciers, to bright teal lakes, it really is hard to beat the beautiful nature around you. Hiking with kids in Banff National Park can not only provide a lot of these views, but can give you and the family an experience that is fun, engaging, and rewarding! Two hikes that we tackled as a family were the Lake Agnus Trail and the Tunnel Mountain Trail.
Lake Agnus Trail
The Lake Agnus Trail starts at Lake Louise and goes up to Mirror Lake and then up to Lake Agnus. It’s 4.72 miles long with an elevation of 1,422 feet. We started at 8:00am since it was still cool outside and the hike can get crowded later in the day. J had an older digital camera so she could take her own pictures. We have found that this keeps her really entertained during longer hikes.
We walked, we hiked, and we climbed for a good hour before we started to wonder where Mirror Lake was. It was a never ending uphill climb and we were all getting a little tired of it. J was such a trooper and made it with just a couple of complaints on the way up! We finally made it to Mirror Lake, which was a much needed rest for all of us. The tranquil setting amongst the alpine trees with their reflection in the water made our hike worth it. It’s not nearly as impressive as Lake Louise, but it was quiet and serene. The kids played by the water for 20 minutes, which was enough for everyone to recharge and hike the last 20 minutes to Lake Agnus. At the top waiting for us was the Lake Agnus Tea House which had biscuits and tea!
We were about five minutes from the top when J said she was done and didn’t want to walk anymore. So I took the backpack with M in it (which felt like 100 pounds at this point) and Jon carried J the rest of the way. At the top, which ended with two sets of stairs, we made a beeline for the bathroom and then found a nice spot on the rocks next to Lake Agnus. We got some lovely fluffy biscuits with homemade jam, tortilla chips, and different flavored teas. It was an idyllic spot to enjoy this freshly made fare and we stayed for a good hour before deciding to return down. We promised J it would be much faster on the way down (it was) and that ice cream was waiting for her (which we found). We then spent the afternoon playing and relaxing in the pool!
Tunnel Mountain Trail
The Tunnel Mountain Trail is a great hike to do while hiking with kids in Banff National Park. This is a 2.7 roundtrip hike that one can easily access from downtown Banff. While it does climb the Tunnel Mountain, it has a lot of switchbacks which kept things interesting and doable for everyone. And compared to the Lake Agnus Trail that we had done the day before this was a piece of cake!
We once again got a very early start, which was great for parking and having the trail to ourselves. It started as a woodsy walk, but after we cleared the tree line we started to get some beautiful views. It took us about an hour to get to the top… there was even a congratulations sign! We had gorgeous views of the town of Banff, the golf course, and the surrounding areas.
We rested at the top for a little bit before making our way down, which only took about 20 minutes. After leaving, we ate at a lovely restaurant called Juniper Bistro for an early lunch. We sat outside and had spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. We then relaxed a bit at the house, swam in the pool for a couple of hours, and spent some time in the town of Banff.
Banff Gondola Experience
While we didn’t do any actual hiking at the Banff Gondola Experience there are some hikes one can enjoy such as the Sulphur Mountain Trail. We didn’t tackle this, but were impressed by how extensive this gondola experience is! We got there a little later, around 9:30am and it wasn’t too crowded, but when we left two hours later people had parked miles down the road and had to walk to the gondola… go early!
To start, we took the 8 minute gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. We were then led into an interactive interpretive center where there were hands-on displays, a multi-sensory Banff weather theater, and information boards and posters about everything Banff. It was really extraordinary and the kids had a blast! We probably spent most of our time in here since they were having so much fun.
We managed to make it out of there and onto the observation deck and Sulphur Mountain boardwalk. The views of the six mountain ranges were stunning. We had such great weather and we could see for miles and miles. The boardwalk took us for a nice walk high above the trees where we could have views every which way we wanted. From the 360 observation deck there were even more. Simply amazing!
We spent a wonderful five days here and felt that we made the most of our time. The vibrant lakes, majestic mountains, and the glowing glaciers make for some of the most beautiful scenery we have ever experienced!