Cirque Peak via Helen Lake trail is a challenging day hike along the Icefields Parkway in Banff National Park. It's not for everyone: there are a couple of scrambly bits, there is a bit of exposure to stree drop-offs and it's very steep. But for those with the experience and skills to summit the views of Bow Lake, Bow Glacier and Dolomite Peak are absolutely stunning. The summit is small and the hike is popular, so leave early to beat the crowds.
A challenging hike of more than 20 km, the bench above Rockbound Lake provides stunning views of emerald green Tower Lake, navy blue Rockbound Lake and the sheer walls of the "back side" of Castle Mountain. Larches around the lake turn golden in September, wildflowers and mushrooms offer botanical interest along the otherwise boring front section. And since this is not a highly recommended trail, you may just go most of the day without encountering anybody else!
The Helen Lake trail is an awesome wildflower season hike. With a relatively modest elevation gain of just under 600 meters from trailhead to lake shore, a long stretch of trail also offers expansive views of Dolomite Peak and several unnamed ridges, peaks and three glaciers. Upon reaching the scenic highlight that is Helen Lake, there are a few options to extend the day, including hiking to the Cirque Peak or a nice ridge walk above the lake.
Despite more than 20 years of hiking experience, we occasionally blow our trip planning. So while we thoroughly enjoyed the varied landscape and fantastic scenery just beyond Bow Hut, we didn't even know to hike up The Onion for an overhead view of Iceberg Lake. That's a good reason to hike this trail again - soon!
An awesome wildflower season hike, the Helen Lake trail is also a good option for early fall. It offers great views of Crowfoot Glacier across the valley, has a relatively modest elevation gain of just under 600 meters from trailhead to lake shore, and includes a long stretch of trail with expansive views of Dolomite Peak and several unnamed ridges and peaks. Upon reaching the scenic highlight that is Helen Lake, there are a few options to extend the day, including hiking to the Cirque Peak or a nice ridge walk above the lake.