Cooler autumn temperatures and a bit of precipitation finally put out most of the forest fires in BC and Alberta. As the skies cleared and the summer crowds thinned out, we closed out the 2017 conventional hiking season with an up and back hike to the high point along the Iceline Trail in Yoho National Park. The majority of the trail is across barren landscape that was covered by glaciers just a hundred years ago. Pioneering alpine shrubs added touches of warm, fall colour to the rocky terrain - a beautiful contrast to the icy pools of turquoise glacier melt.
One of our favourite destinations during wildflower season, Grizzly Peak is also a solid option for larch season. Less well-known than the crowded trails around Lake Louise, it's a half-day hike that's easy to extend with a ridge walk or an exploration of Pocaterra Cirque.
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!
While not the most scenic hike, there is definitely a fun factor to this half-day outing - creek crossings, rock-hopping, pictographs, waterfalls and rock climbers are all appealing. Natural turnaround points are at the waterfall (approx. 2 km return) and at the hoodoos (approx. 6 km return). The steep canyon walls and creek can be a cool respite on hot summer days. In the winter, ice cleats should be considered essential for this trail.
Popular hiking trails in Banff, Yoho and Kootenay National Parks are expected to be busier than ever in 2017, thanks to free national parks entry in celebration of Canada's 150th. Thanks to careful planning and trail selection, we're aiming for maximum enjoyment while exploring the Canadian Rocky Mountains this summer. Read on to take advantage of our top strategies and to get the inside scoop on our favourite hiking trails.