Fall is a great time to undertake the long hike to Aylmer Pass in Banff National Park. Next time we'll do the Lake Minnewanka Trail portion on mountain bikes so that we have the time/energy to make the side trip to Aylmer Lookout.
Most of the hiking guidebooks we own strongly recommend the trail to Sunset Pass. But the trailhead is a two hour drive from Canmore (three hours from Calgary). That's a pretty big investment of time and gas money. So this one stayed on the "someday" list for years before we finally got around to it in mid-September. Too bad we put it off for so long!
What makes the summit of Mount Allan an attractive goal for day hikers? Wildflowers! There's an extended ridge walk with great views of the surrounding landscape. The Rock Garden at the 5.5 km mark is unlike anything we've seen in the Canadian Rockies. While it's steep, there's no vertigo-inducing exposure. Centennial Ridge to Mount Allan …
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 unique, horseshoe-shaped ridge walk in the Spray Valley, Tent Ridge includes some fairly technical sections and is not for those with any fear of heights/exposure. It's not an officially-sanctioned Alberta Parks' trail, so is not maintained. But it's popular and well-established. And while it took us three attempts to complete (and we don't plan on doing it again), there is satisfaction in crossing Tent Ridge off our list of "must do" hikes.