Icefields Parkway hikes

Hiking on the famous Icefields Parkway (Highway 93N) is incredible. This famously beautiful highway, running from Banff to Jasper, is teaming with world-class hikes. Here we share our favourite hikes in the section of the Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and the Columbia Icefields. Find the best short hikes that take you to incredible viewpoints as well as stunning full-day walks!

Click ‘+MORE INFO’ below a list of the 10 Best Hiking Trails along the Icefields Parkway.

The top 10 Hikes along THE ICEFIELDS PARKWAY

We love hiking on the Icefields Parkway. The hikes here range from easy walks to stunning viewpoints to wonderful backcountry hikes to mountain tops and incredible mountain passes. This area is less busy then either Jasper or Lake Louise and is worth a few days to explore. If you want to see the best of Canada’s Rocky Mountains some of these hikes should be on your to-do list!

#1. Helen Lake and Cirque Peak (17.2km, 1,010m, 6-8h): Hiking to Helen Lake and Cirque Peak is a local favourite. The hike from Helen Lake up to Cirque Peak provides incredible views. Be warned that this is a challenging day with steady uphill climbs, particularly the final push to the top of Cirque Peak, which also involves some scrambling.

#2. North Molar Pass (23.9km, 737m, 7-10h): The hiking trail to North Molar Pass takes you to one of the most amazing, vast alpine meadows in Banff National Park. This long day hike has ample rewards for strong hikers. Add this hike to your bucket-list!

#3. Parker Ridge Trail (5.9km, 250m, 1.5-3h): Hiking up Parker Ridge unlocks some amazing views of the Saskatchewan Glacier, the largest of the Columbia Icefield’s six valley outlet glaciers. This hike is a great stop when driving the Icefield Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper.

#4. Wilcox Pass (9.8km, 409m, 3-4h): The Wilcox Pass hike offers hikers easy access to alpine meadows as well as incredible views of the peaks and glaciers on the eastern edge of the Columbia Icefield. This hike is a must-do when you’re on the Icefields Parkway, and a great trail to enjoy the Athabasca Glacier for free.

#5. Bow Glacier Falls (8.4km, 155m, 2-3.5h): The hike to Bow Glacier Falls is exquisite. We love the hike along Bow Lake, however hiking up to Bow Glacier Falls provides enormous and wonderful views.

#6. Peyto Lake Viewpoint (2.6km, 80m, 0.5-1h): The hike to the Peyto Lake Viewpoint should be on every Rockies itinerary. This viewpoint offers one of the finest views of Peyto Lake on an accessible, family-friendly hike. While the main Peyto Lake viewpoint is crowded, make sure to visit the second one, which is often deserted.

#7 Sunset Pass (23.3km, 948m, 7-10h): The hike to Sunset Pass & Sunset Lookout follows a strenuous trail that hikes along a backcountry artery and through a meadow with views to the remote White Goat Wilderness Area. The steep initial ascent means crowds are low, but rewards are high. If you want a shorter day you don’t need to do both hikes.

#8. Nigel Pass (16km, 376m, 5-6h): Hiking to Nigel Pass is a rewarding day hike in the Columbia Icefield area. Nigel Pass is an open meadow with spectacular views into the backcountry of Jasper National Park. This hike is a great trail near the Columbia Icefield Discovery Centre.

#9. Warden Lake (4.7km, 15m, 1-2h): The Warden Lake trail is an easy, family-friendly hike through an area that was recently affected by wildfire. With open views of the North Saskatchewan River and the surrounding peaks, this trail is a fun hike for the whole family.

#10. Cirque & Chephren Lake (14.6km, 322m, 3-5h): Hiking around Cirque & Chephren Lakes is an easy hike that goes to two classic, and seldom visited, Canadian Rockies Lakes on the Icefields Parkway. These lakes are situated at the base of the rugged mountains making up the continental divide.

#11. Bow Hut (15.6km, 555m, 4-6h): Hiking to Bow Hut is a wonderful way to hike the day away if you’re going to be on the Icefields Parkway. Bow Hut is an Alpine Club of Canada Hut, and the route to get there is challenging but also spectacular! Book a night at Bow Hut for a true Canadian hiking experience.

#12. Crowfoot Pass (15.5km, 794m, 5-7h) The hike up to Crowfoot Pass and onwards to Balfour Viewpoint provides serene solitude in the remote backcountry. Enjoy a river crossing, a high alpine pass and incredible view of a majestic waterfall. For the adventurous scrambler, the steep rocky Bow Peak Scramble can be added to this trail.

#13. Toe of the Athabasca Glacier (1.4km, 60m, 1-1.5h): Do you want to see the Athabasca Glacier for Free? While at the Columbia Icefields consider hiking the Toe of the Athabasca Glacier trail. This family-friendly hike is a great alternative to the expensive tour of the glacier. The Athabasca Glacier are sublime.

#14. Bow Lake (3.4km, 1.8m, 1-1.5h): Anybody driving the Icefields Parkway should stop in at Bow Lake and do this family-friendly hike. Hiking along the edge of Bow Lake is a great break. Enjoy the great views of Bow Lake on this easy hike.

01. HELEN LAKE AND CIRQUE PEAK

01. HELEN LAKE AND CIRQUE PEAK

  • Difficulty
  • 17.2km
  • 1,010m
  • 6-8h

02. NORTH MOLAR PASS

02. NORTH MOLAR PASS

  • Difficulty
  • 23.9km
  • 737m
  • 7-10h

03. PARKER RIDGE TRAIL

03. PARKER RIDGE TRAIL

  • Difficulty
  • 5.9km
  • 250m
  • 1.5-3h

04. WILCOX PASS

04. WILCOX PASS

  • Difficulty
  • 9.8km
  • 409m
  • 3-4h

05. BOW GLACIER FALLS

 

05. BOW GLACIER FALLS

  • Difficulty
  • 8.4km
  • 155m
  • 2-3.5h

06. PEYTO LAKE VIEWPOINT

06. PEYTO LAKE VIEWPOINT

  • Difficulty
  • 2.6km
  • 80m
  • 0.5-1h

07. SUNSET VIEWPOINT AND PASS

07. SUNSET VIEWPOINT AND PASS

  • Difficulty
  • 23.3km
  • 948m
  • 7-10h

08. NIGEL PASS

08. NIGEL PASS

  • Difficulty
  • 16km
  • 376m
  • 5-6h

09. WARDEN LAKE

09. WARDEN LAKE

  • Difficulty
  • 4.7km
  • 15m
  • 1-2h

10. Cirque & Chephren Lakes

10. Cirque & Chephren Lakes

  • Difficulty
  • 14.6km
  • 322m
  • 3-5h

11. BOW HUT

11. BOW HUT

  • Difficulty
  • 15.6km
  • 555m
  • 4-6h

12. CROWFOOT PASS AND BALFOUR VIEWPOINT

 

12. CROWFOOT PASS AND BALFOUR VIEWPOINT

  • Difficulty
  • 15.5km
  • 794m
  • 5-7h

13. TOE OF THE ATHABASCA GLACIER

13. TOE OF THE ATHABASCA GLACIER

  • Difficulty
  • 1.4km
  • 60m
  • 1-1.5h

14. BOW LAKE

14. BOW LAKE

  • Difficulty
  • 3.4km
  • 1.8m
  • 1-1.5h

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity”

– John Muir