Banff National Park is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. Its stunning landscapes, awe-inspiring mountains, and crystal-clear lakes make it a perfect destination for hiking adventures. And what better way to experience the beauty of Banff than by embarking on memorable hikes with your furry companion? Want to know where to go with summer with your dog? We will explore the ten best hikes in Banff that are dog-friendly, ensuring a fantastic experience for you and your four-legged friend.
To ensure a safe and respectful hiking experience in Banff, Alberta, it's important to familiarize yourself with the regulations that govern this pristine wilderness. These guidelines are in place to preserve the natural environment, protect wildlife, and promote responsible outdoor recreation.
Before embarking on your hike, take note of the following regulations:
1. Obtain Proper Park Permits: Visitors to Banff National Park need to purchase either a day park pass or an annual pass. Fees for the park passes go to the Banff National Park to pay for visitor services and facilities in the park. If you plan to camp overnight, obtain a backcountry camping permit and follow the designated camping areas and regulations. These permits help manage visitor numbers and ensure a sustainable camping experience.
2. Trail Etiquette: Stay on designated trails to minimize damage to fragile ecosystems and respect private property boundaries. Yield to uphill hikers and give way to horses, if encountered. Leave no trace of your visit by packing out all trash and waste.
3. Wildlife Encounters: Banff is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including bears, elk, and mountain goats. Maintain a safe distance of at least 100 meters (300 feet) from bears and 30 meters (100 feet) from other wildlife. Never feed or approach animals, as it disrupts their natural behavior and can be dangerous for both humans and animals.
4. Dog Regulations: If you bring your furry friend along, keep them on a leash at all times and dispose of their waste properly. Dogs are not allowed on some trails or in certain areas to protect wildlife habitat.
5. Fishing Regulations: Fishing is permitted in Banff's lakes and rivers but requires a National Park Fishing Permit. Adhere to catch limits, size restrictions, and any specific regulations for each body of water. Practice catch-and-release to help conserve fish populations.
6. Leave No Trace Principles: Follow the principles of Leave No Trace to minimize your impact on the environment. This includes properly disposing of waste, minimizing campfire impacts, respecting wildlife, staying on designated trails, and being considerate of other hikers.
7. Safety Preparedness: Inform others of your hiking plans, including your expected route and return time. Carry essential safety equipment such as a map, compass, first aid kit, and bear spray. Be prepared for changing weather conditions and sudden emergencies. Make sure to have lots of water and snacks. We also recommend a water filter in case you run out of water, or don't want to carry additional bottles. We don't want anyone getting Beaver Fever!
Since trails in Banff are on leash we recommend our RMD All Mountain Leash for your hike. It can be hand held or worn around your waist for a hands free option which makes hiking with your dog easier as they can help pull you up those steep parts while also wearing our Kootenay All Terrain Harness.
1. Tunnel Mountain Trail:
Offering panoramic views of the town of Banff and its surrounding mountains, the Tunnel Mountain Trail is an excellent choice for hikers with dogs. The moderately challenging trail covers approximately 4.3 kilometers and provides a rewarding vantage point at the summit where you can see the town of Banff and Vermiillion Lake in the valley.
This hike takes approximately 1.30 hrs to complete the trail and is an excellent way to spend an afternoon in Banff, be sure to stop at a pub along Banff Avenue where most patios are dog friendly.
2. Johnson Lake Loop Trail
Located just outside of Banff, Johnson Lake Loop Trail is an easy 3.4-kilometer hike around the picturesque Johnson Lake. Your pup will love splashing in the lake's shallow waters, and you can enjoy the serene ambiance while surrounded by breathtaking mountain vistas. It’s also a great spot to swim and paddle board in the summer months. Approximately 45 mins to complete the trail.
3. Johnston Canyon Trail
Johnston Canyon is one of Banff's most popular hiking destinations, and luckily, it's also pet-friendly. This scenic trail leads you through a narrow canyon with stunning waterfalls, catwalks, and caverns. The hike to the lower falls is about 2.7 kilometers, while the upper falls add an additional 1.6 kilometers.
Additionally you can hike to the Ink Pots for stunning meadows and drink from the natural mineral springs. The trail to the upper falls is approximately 2 hrs there and back, with an additional 2 hours to complete the ink pots.
You will start this hike at the Johnston Canyon parking lot, beware this can be a very busy spot. The hike in the canyon is pretty easy and if you go beyond the falls to the ink pots, you will start to avoid the crowds.
4. Bow Glacier Falls Trail
The Bow Glacier Trail is a scenic gem, this out and back hike stretches approximately 9 kilometers (282M elevation gain). As you venture along its path, you'll find yourself surrounded by majestic mountains, lush forests, and sparkling glacial waters.
The highlight of the trail is undoubtedly the imposing Bow Glacier, a massive ice formation that seems to defy the passage of time. Witness the power and grandeur of the glacier during this approx. 4 hr hike and enjoy the vibrant wildflowers throughout the summer.
You start this hike at the parking lot at Bow Lake and make your way around the lake heading towards the falls. The trail is well marked and an open valley carved by thousands of years of glacier melt. The falls are great and you can get a little wet since the spray is very misty.
5. Lake Minnewanka Scenic Trail
Lake Minnewanka is Banff's largest lake, and the trail surrounding it offers breathtaking views and rich wildlife sightings. This relatively easy 7.2 kilometer trail is perfect for leisurely walks with your dog while soaking in the beauty of the glacial lake and surrounding mountains. This loop trail takes approximately 1.3hrs to complete. It is popular for bird watching and fishing.
6. Rockbound Lake Trail
As you embark on this approximately 18-kilometer journey (1,000M elevation gain), you'll be treated to a scenic spectacle of towering peaks, shimmering alpine lakes, and rugged wilderness. The trail winds its way through pristine forests, meandering alongside crystal-clear streams, and gradually ascending to reveal breathtaking vistas that will leave you in awe.
The lake itself is nestled at the base of a dramatic amphitheater of rocky cliffs. Its tranquil waters mirror the surrounding peaks, creating a serene atmosphere that invites you to pause and soak in the natural splendor. Approx 5-6 hours to complete.
This hike is not necessarily that difficult but it can be a long hike. The 18km is only if you continue past Rockbound Lake up a steep incline where you overlook the lake. This a spectacular view but a difficult last push of the hike.
For those that don't want to strain themselves, only go to Rockbound Lake and you've shaved off an hour from the hike and your knees will thank you. If you want to see larches you can do this hike in the fall.
7. Taylor Lake Trail
Taylor Lake Trail is a scenic 13.2-kilometer (912M elevation gain) hike that takes you through lush forests and opens up to stunning mountain panoramas. The trail is moderately challenging and offers an abundance of wildflowers during the summer months. Your furry friend will have plenty of opportunities to explore and enjoy the pristine surroundings. It takes an average of 5 Hrs to complete but you can camp overnight here in the summer months and fall.
This hike is good year round and if you do it in the fall, you will see lots of larch trees. You can even extend this hike if you would like and go to Panorama Ridge where the larch trees are out of this world.
8. Lake Agnes Tea House Trail:
To start this hike park at the Lake Louise parking lot. This iconic trail takes you to the charming Lake Agnes Tea House, a historic log cabin serving delicious tea and treats.
You will walk around Lake Louise to start then take the trail up to the teahouse which is well marked with signs. The 7.6-kilometer (435M elevation gain) round-trip hike features stunning views of Lake Louise and the surrounding peaks.
Your dog is welcome to join you on this trail, but keep in mind that dogs are not allowed inside the tea house. When you are at the top you can enjoy Lake Agnes, play fetch in the water and have a tea. Approximately 3 hrs depending how long you stop for and enjoy the views
9. Plains of Six Glaciers Trail:
To start this hike, park at the Lake Louise parking lot. The Plains of Six Glaciers Trail is a popular hike that takes you to a stunning viewpoint overlooking six glaciers. The 14.6-kilometer (588M elevation gain) round-trip trail offers breathtaking vistas of Lake Louise, the surrounding mountain peaks, and the impressive glaciers.
Your furry friend will enjoy the scenic walk, but be prepared for a good hike with moderate elevation gain that takes 4-5 hrs to complete. Typically you will end this hike beneath Victoria Glacier, be sure to stop at the teahouse on the way back where you can sit down and enjoy your lunch and watch your dog be teased by the chipmunks.
10. Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail:
For a leisurely stroll with your dog, the Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail is perfect. This easy 2.8-kilometer trail takes you along the picturesque shoreline of Lake Louise, providing magnificent views of the turquoise water and the Victoria Glacier.
About an hour to complete so you can take your time and to enjoy the serene atmosphere and let your pup explore the lakeside on this out and back trail. A fun fact is our Marketing Manager Ashley (and owner of the beagles) got engaged on this trail in October 2014!
Rocky Mountain Dog is the perfect adventure brand to get your dog outfitted before embarking out on these amazing trails in Banff. If you want to see our products in person you can visit the Banff Doghouse located in the heart of Banff, or check out our Retail Locations tab.
We hope you enjoy these trails and immersing yourself in the amazing wilderness of Banff, making lasting memories with your four legged companion along the way.