Drifting through British Columbia and Alberta’s rock-star national parks provides an opportunity to do some of the world’s most satisfying hikes. From a gentle 500m stroll around a scenic lake to multi-day backcountry excursions into territory where crampons and bear spray are non-negotiable – the options appear endless. In our two weeks in Canada’s most mountainous parts, we lost count of our walks in the sub-10km category. The gallery below picks out a few highlights from our longer day hikes, typically between 10 and 15km, with a decent bit of “up”. Four national parks are covered in this gallery: Banff NP, Jasper NP, Glacier NP and Mount Revelstoke NP. We visited a fifth, the Pacific Rim NP on Vancouver Island. But that’s for a separate gallery at a later date, methinks! Enjoy the mountains.
Now why does this peak make me think of a bakery?
Tree identification continues to befuddle me but I think these super-pointy fellows are subalpine firs – Mount Revelstoke NP
One of our more strenuous hikes was a partial ascent of the Abbott Ridge Trail in Glacier NP. Yes, that road is where we started walking. And yes, we were still on the way up when we took this pic.
After a long hard slog with no views whatsoever, just switchback after switchback up a densely forested slope, we eventually broke free of the trees and the views started opening up. Well worth it!
Those subalpine firs again. And this time, just for fun, we’ll speculate that there is an Engelmann spruce in there too.
I loved the dual textures of the ice and the rock where this glacier, momentarily sunlit, spilled over the edge.
Our next long hike started out innocuously enough, with a 2km stroll along the shores of a canoe-dotted lake
There are many of these eye-catching lakes dotted around the Canadian Rockies – the turquoise colour betraying the presence of glaciers.
The canoes (can you spot them?) were dwarfed by the dramatic geology, but the walk was flat flat flat. So far.
However, not long after that, we swapped the turquoise lake for a monochrome landscape of rock and snow. Flat flat flat was also a thing of the past.
On our descent, the weather improved and the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel, where our car awaited us, was once again visible on the far side of the lake
Strange that the person who shoots with a compact also seems to be the one carrying a backpack full of camera equipment on this hike
The official viewpoint at Peyto Lake is super-annoying, with tour buses disgorging so many people that would-be selfie takers are literally elbowing each other out of the way. But, as we had learnt by then, 20 minutes of ascent on any nearby trail is guaranteed to solve this problem. We went up into the snowline and were immediately rewarded with unobstructed views and blissful quiet.
A photographer waits patiently for a gap in the breeze. Gotta get that perfect reflection! Maligne Lake – Jasper NP.
Another challenging hike with spectacular rewards. Can you see the road where we started?
Almost there. Over that last ridge lies an awe-inspiring view towards the Columbia Icefield.
Saul pretends he’s taking off. What you can’t see on this photo is the wind. Wilcox Pass is known for “fickle” weather and by the time we got to the top, we thought we were going to get blown right off. Let’s just say we did not eat our lunch where the view was. I don’t like it when the wind keeps trying to take away my sandwich.
The Columbia Icefield, which lies behind this mountain, is the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies