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.
Floe Lake and Numa Pass are part of the multi-day backpacking route between Marble Canyon and Vermillion Crossing in Kootenay National Park: the Rockwall. Most itineraries describe it as a four to five day adventure, and recommend starting with the trail into Floe Lake. Since we're strictly day hikers, we ascended the trail to Floe Lake for lunch, continued to Numa Pass in the early afternoon and retraced our route arriving back at the parking lot a little before 6 pm. A long and rewarding day, the Floe Lake backcountry campground has got us thinking about giving backpacking a try.
Compared to the old Ha Ling Trail, the upgraded and realigned route is significantly improved. But it's still challenging - short and steep. If you opt to give this one a try, I strongly recommend hiking/urban poles. There's not water, so be sure to pack lots. And it's pretty exposed up top, so pack one more layer than you think you'll need!
Chester Lake is a great shoulder season hike, can be done on snowshoes in winter, and has a lake for skipping stones, dipping toes or watching fish rise. It's pretty easy, with less than 400 meters elevation gain. And there are a few options to extend your hike past the lake: a loop around the lake, the Elephant Rocks, or continuing up to Three Lakes Valley.