Backpacking Banff in four days

Banff National Park, Alberta

Ray Lumfardo
Staff Writer

Banff National Park has some of the best backpacking the Canadian Rockies offer. Here is a sampling of what you can do with four days and a backpack in Banff National Park. Seasonal restrictions can apply to some of these trails, so click here to make sure yours is open.

Backpacking Banff is hard to beat.

Backpacking Banff is hard to beat.

Assiniboine Loop

The beauty of doing a loop is that it begins and ends at the same place, saving you from having to shuttle, arrange for a pickup, hitchhike or find some other way to get back to your vehicle. The beginning and end for Assiniboine loop is the Mt. Shark trailhead in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, just ouside of Banff National Park. Travel through three contiguous protected areas and behold the beauty of Mt. Assiniboine, the sixth highest mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Seasonal restrictions on Allenby Pass and Assiniboine Pass can apply during buffalo berry season.

Campsites: McBride’s Camp – Night 1; Lake Magog Campground or the BC Parks trail shelter, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Nights 2 and 3 (separate BC Parks campground fees will be collected on-site); Marvel Lake, or stay at the Bryant Creek trail shelter – Night 4.

Distance: 55 km

Elevation gain: 545 m

Bryant Creek

This trip is unfortunately not a loop, and is therefore best suited to parties with ta second vehicle. It takes an alternate trail to Mt. Assiniboine starting from the Sunshine Village ski area and crossing the rambling alpine meadows of Citadel Pass. You can hike the Sunshine Village ski area maintenance road or ride White Mountain Adventures privately run shuttle up to the base village. The trip ends at the Mt. Shark trailhead in Kananaskis Country, Alberta, via the Bryant Creek trail. Again, there are seasonal restrictions on Allenby Pass and Assiniboine Pass during buffalo berry season.

Campsites: Porcupine Campground, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Night 1; Lake Magog Campground, Mt. Assiniboine Provincial Park – Night 2 or 3 (where separate BC Parks campground fees will be collected on-site); McBride’s Camp – Night 3 or 4.

Distance: 55.7 km

Elevation gain: 660 m

Banff and Mount Assiniboine Sunshine – Vista Lake

Access the series of high country trails that link the Sunshine Village ski area to the Vista Lake viewpoint on Highway 93 on foot or via a shuttle ride by White Mountain Adventures. Explore the Egypt Lake area en route. After climbing over Gibbon Pass, the trail meanders past a series of scenic lakes before the final descent to the highway.

Campsites: Egypt Lake – Night 1; Ball Pass Junction – Night 2 and 3; Twin Lakes – Night 3 or 4.

Distance: 40 km

Elevation gain: 1390 m

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Monica Sullivan,
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