If this is your first time in Banff National Park, consider these 10 hiking tips – TheTravel | Gmx Pharm

Banff is the oldest national park in Canada and welcomes four million visitors and hikers each year. Hiking here is a highlight of a Canada visit and will leave travelers with memories (and epic photos) that will last a lifetime. Dense coniferous forests, towering mountains, and milky-blue glacial lakes are what visitors can expect as they make their way through the vast park.

Hiking in Banff is exciting and rewarding, but it takes proper preparation to stay safe. These 10 tips will help hikers succeed so they can make the most of their time exploring Banff National Park.

11 Wear suitable walking shoes

Invest in a reliable hiking boot or shoe with treads that provide traction for steep climbs. The boot or shoe should be supportive, breathable, and comfortable. For hikers visiting the park in the later fall or winter, when there is snow on the trails, be sure to bring a pair of crampons that attach to the bottom of the hiking boot for extra grip in icy or slippery conditions.

See also: Summer is Coming: Time to See Canada’s Banff & Yoho National Parks

9 Invest in trekking poles

The terrain in Banff is varied, with some trails that are easy to navigate on flat, level ground and others that require hikers to traverse steep, rocky trails. Regardless of a traveler’s experience and fitness level, trekking poles make their experience in Banff more enjoyable. Trekking poles are used in tandem and provide extra stability, which is especially important when balancing on rocky terrain. They also reduce the stress on your knees by up to 20%.

Keep in mind that purchasing any type of hiking gear within park boundaries (e.g., from stores in Lake Louise) means paying top dollar. To avoid overpaying for trekking poles, purchase them before you arrive in Banff.

8th Stay in Lane

A rookie mistake that new hikers sometimes make is venturing off the marked trails in the park. Whether it’s getting a closer look at wildlife, finding a lookout point, or cutting off some switchbacks, this isn’t proper hiking etiquette. Deviating from the trail can be dangerous, especially off a cliff or rocky ridge, but it also puts the surrounding ecosystem at risk. If every hiker stays on the path, the surrounding nature remains untouched and intact. But if every passer-by takes a different detour, an excess of vegetation is trampled down daily. Always staying on the trail is crucial to the hiker’s safety and being respectful of wildlife.

7 Bring bear spray (and know how to use it)

Alberta, Canada is home to much wildlife, but one of the most notable predators in the region is the grizzly bear. Parks Canada estimates that there are approximately 65 grizzly bears in the 6641 square kilometer area of ​​Banff National Park. 96% of the park is wilderness, giving the creatures plenty of room to roam unseen by hikers. Although bear encounters are rare, they are possible while hiking in Banff, especially during the spring, summer, and fall seasons when bears are not hibernating.

It’s important to make noise along the way to alert bears to your presence so you don’t startle them. If you come across one, wearing bear spray to deter the bear is a necessary safety measure. Make sure you have the spray easily accessible (carry it on the outside of your backpack) and know how to use it in case you run into an emergency.

6 Explore your route

Hikers should prepare for a hiking trip in Banff by researching trail options and choosing trails that are appropriate for their level of experience. There are different levels of hiking trails in Banff National Park, some rated as moderate to some that are rated as difficult. It’s important for hikers to choose trails that are realistic for their fitness level and to consider distance and elevation gain when deciding how much time to complete the trail. It’s always a good idea to start hiking early in the day to avoid getting caught in the woods after dark.

5 Hike with a buddy

When hiking in grizzly bear territory, it’s best to avoid walking the trail alone. In fact, many of the trailheads in Banff National Park have signs advising hikers not to continue the route unless hiking in a group of two, and sometimes four people. This is because being in a group reduces the chances of a grizzly bear attacking.

For solo travelers, there are still ways to safely enjoy Banff’s hiking trails. Consider joining a guided hiking group or meeting up with other solo backpackers at your lodge or hostel and making plans for a hike together.

4 Layer up and dress for the season

The weather can change quickly in the mountains, so it’s wise to be prepared for all types of conditions when you head out. Check the weather forecast for the day before you leave, and wear layers that can be easily removed or added depending on whether the temperature is rising, falling, or unexpected rainfall.

Hikers should wear a base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. The base layer lies next to the skin and should be made of synthetic material, silk, wool or bamboo fibers – ideally something that dries quickly. This is a moisture wicking layer, so cotton is not a good option for the base layer. The middle layer is an insulating layer, like a fleece jacket or down vest. Finally, hikers can also carry a light rain jacket or windbreaker in their backpack as a protective outer layer.

Also see: 20 Stunning Photos of Banff (Canada) That Will Have You Booking a Flight Instantly

3 Pack the essentials

Even for hikers doing just one loop that lasts a few hours, hiking in Banff can be strenuous, and it’s important to pack a few essentials for the trip in a backpack. A small day pack is a good choice to carry a water bottle, some nutritious snacks and a small first aid kit. Make sure the pack fits properly to avoid rubbing or discomfort on the shoulders while hiking. While it’s important to pack essentials even for a short hike, travelers should be careful about overpacking, which can weigh them down and make the hike harder than it needs to be.

2 Be diligent with sun protection

Hiking through the mountains offers many opportunities for sun exposure, especially at higher elevations. When exploring Banff National Park, it’s important to take precautions to protect your eyes and skin from UV rays. The CDC recommends wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher for adequate protection from UV rays. Hikers should reapply as needed throughout the trip, especially when sweating.

Sunlight is also a problem when hiking in winter. While wearing long sleeves and pants protects the body from UV rays, it’s always a good idea to apply sunscreen to your face before going outside. Sunglasses are a must for hiking in Banff any time of the year. They protect the eyes from UV rays and facilitate the reflection of the sun in the snow in winter.

1 Leave no trace

Most people are familiar with the saying “take nothing but photos, leave nothing but footprints,” and this applies to hiking in Banff National Park. To be a considerate guest in the park, hikers should not take anything from the trail such as sticks, rocks, or other foliage as a souvenir. It is also important that hikers take the waste they produce from their snacks with them to properly dispose of in bins near the trailhead or parking area. Visitors to Banff should leave the park in the same condition in which they found it so that everyone can enjoy this gem of western Canada.

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