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Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

jwr
Houston, tx
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Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

You guys are the hiking experts on this board, so consider this scenario: A friend of yours has one day to hike in the Lake Louise/Yoho/Banff area. He might be called a good hiker, but certainly no expert. The friend may never return to the area. What trail or hike would you recommend? Would you advise 2 1/2-day hikes encompassing 2 areas...or 1 full-day hike? One qualifier, Lake O'Hara is not an option.

Anyone feel free to chime in. Thanks.

Brussels
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1. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

If not Lake O'Hara it leaves us with other premier options.

Banff area it would be to take Citadel Pass or Healy Pass. Drive to base of the gondola for Sunshine village and take a shuttle there. It will take you to Sunshine village and you start hiking there. Both hikes are moderate and you will be soon on alpine meadows with great views on both sides of continental divide. And he doesn't have to walk it all the way and back to enjoy it.

Lake Louise it would be definitely Paradise Valley - beautiful hike, not difficult - or Sentinel pass - fantastic hike. It's possible to combine both hikes and to do a loop. I recommend starting at Moraine Lake. Paradise valley trailhead parking lot is on the access road to Moraine Lake (the trailhead for Sentinel). Either you leave a car on one parking lot and will try to hitchhike or you will use 2 cars. If you do not want to do the whole loop then go with Sentinel Pass. It offers "close up" view of the mountains. In Paradise valley I love "Giant Steps" waterfalls.

A very nice hike is also to Skoki lodge, trailhead near Lake Louise ski area. It is not strenuous but quite long. Only disadvantage is a boring start/end when you have to use a gravel road for about, as far as I remember, 3 km. Otherwise it was fantastic, it brings you to beautiful backcountry.

Half day option I like is a Fairview mountain. I have done it at least 5 times. It starts at Lake Louise parking lot. Should not take more than 4 hours. Offers great views of Lake Louise and Peaks with glaciers. Disadvantage could be that on this trail you are never alone.

You did not mention Jasper NP but I cannot resist mentioning this. One of the best hikes we did was Wilcox Peak. It is oposite to Columbia glacier and trailhead parking lot is jus south of the Columbia's visitor center. It is just a walk to the Wilcox Pass, from there more demanding and the end a bit of scrambling. However, I still would rate it as a moderate.

Capelle aan den...
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2. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

I would choose 1 full day hike and go for quality instead of quantity.

Piskot already named some great hikes, although I haven't done the Sunshine village (is on my to-do list) and Skoki hikes. There are many great hikes in the area so this can be a difficult choise.

If I had to choose only one hike (and can not include the Alpine circuit around Lake O'hara) I would probably make it the Sentinel Pass/Paradise loop. But there may be "hike in a group of 6 or more" restrictions in place because of bear activity.

Here as some more suggestions:

Yoho, Iceline trail

Yoho, Wapta higline (loop high above Emerald lake trail)

Lake Louise, Beehives and plain of the six glaciers (first hike to lake Agnes and then on to the glaciers)

jwr
Houston, tx
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3. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

Thanks for the info. Indeed, there currently are "group of 6" restrictions for hiking Paradise Valley and Moraine Lake trailheads. The Banff Trail report also states that Eiffel Lake/Sentinel Pass trail conditions are "fair/poor"---wet & muddy...hmmmm. How is the hike just to Larch Valley? Does it provide a good view of Moraine Lake? Another hike I'm looking at, but haven't seen much comment on, is Consolation Lakes...anybody have an opinion on it? It has no group restrictions. Would it provide a good view of Moraine Lake?

Have seen many good comments on Wilcox Pass...what are the attractions of this hike? It seems reasonable at 4 hrs RT and only 1082 ft elevation change.

Lake O'Hara? I hesitate because it requires a $13 booking fee + a $13 bus fare. Why pay that when there are other excellent free hikes around?

If you were deciding between Lake Agnes & The Beehives Loop and Wilcox Pass, which would you choose?

Calgary, Alberta...
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4. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

>>>>>>Another hike I'm looking at, but haven't seen much comment on, is Consolation Lakes...anybody have an opinion on it?<<<<<<

It's a pleasant hike but not in the same class as Larch Valley, Plain of Six Glaciers, Lake Agnes.

>>>>>>It has no group restrictions.<<<<<<

When I was at Moraine Lake on July 15, 2005 it did have group restrictions, but perhaps they've been lifted now.

>>>>>>Would it provide a good view of Moraine Lake?<<<<<<

No, it does not provide a view of Moraine Lake, as it's downhill from ML.

Brussels
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5. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

I definitely agree that you should go for quality, not quantity. Day hike, even short one, with lot of stops would be better that two half-day "races".

Plain of 6 glaciers and Agnes are great. Although, I do not like them because they are too busy and there are a lot of "tourons". I have done it in November and it was fantastic. Very few people at that time.

Lake O'Hare is worth paying that money. Honestly. It's just...great. You can also walk there but you gonna lose a lot of time and the road to the lake is somewhat boring. True is that there are also other hikes but it might be the one of the top 3 in CanRockies.

Iceline is nice, I always had a strange feeling since most of the time you walk on the land "destroyed" by glaciers. It's almost like moonscape. You will have great views of Takakkaw Falls.

Wapta is great and not to demanding.

Wilcox pass is easy walk. Attractions? Last time we walked it there were bighorn sheep grazing 10 yards from the trail. And you have fantastic views. From the pass hike on the ridge to Wilcox peak as far as you want. Always fantastic views of glaciers, peaks and passes. Huge buses on the Columbia Glacier will look like fleas.

If your problem at Sentinel is "group of six" than do not worry. There always will be somebody to walk with. But you should know that grizzly is probably there.

And I have another suggestion you might consider - Bow Hut. You quickly escape crowds from Bow Lake and soon will be in backcountry. You walk on the north side of the lake and you have to cross the stream at the gorge over the rock that serves as a natural bridge. Then you walk on south side of the creek and soon turn left/south following creek's tributary. We had a problem to find a trail through moraine (almost the end of the hike with the hut in your sight) to the Bow hut but we made it. It is bit a scramble but worth it.

Calgary, Canada
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6. Re: Hiking question for jerm and grouse...

Sorry, I've been on holidays for a couple of weeks.

The other posts have listed some great hikes. You don't mention when you'll be visiting. Some hikes have great displays of wildflowers, which are at their peak in July-August. Others pass through or provide views of larch forests, which turn golden yellow toward the end of September. Also, access roads to some hikes start shutting down after Thankgiving (October 10).

The Iceline trail is a great hike--it provides views of several different glaciers and passes right next to one that has recently receded. Wilcox pass is also a good hike, but shorter.