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.
This is a big map, packed with tons of content: charts, timelines, planning and wildlife viewing tips, 80 sights and attractions and more than 100 hikes. The main attraction is the beautiful, shaded relief map of Banff, Yoho & Kootenay National Parks, along with Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park and a few bits of Kananaskis Country, all at a scale of 1:250,000. There are at least three reasons to buy this map: It's a great resource if you're planning a trip to the Canadian Rockies. It makes a great souvenir. It offers ideas to foster your exploration and appreciation of the Canadian Rockies.
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.
While Sunshine is most well-known for skiing, the summer gondola and shuttle bus service make Sunshine Meadows one of the most accessible alpine hiking areas in the Canadian Rockies from late June through late September. For some, its a starting point for backpacking adventures to Mt. Assiniboine or the Egypt/Pharoah Lakes area. For dayhikers like us, prime times to visit Sunshine Meadows are during peak wildflower season (usually towards the end of July) and peak larch viewing season (usually towards the end of September). Our most recent larch season visit was timed just about perfectly and reaffirmed that it's well worth the effort to do at least one golden larch hike each fall.