Winter hiking is a great way to explore the snow-covered mountains of Banff and Jasper National Parks. There are numerous trails for hikers of all levels. Some trails are short and easily accessible, while other trails are long and require substantially more planning, and snowshoes or skis.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or an adrenaline-filled adventure, but one thing's for sure - there’s something for everyone in winter. Most trails in winter are snow-covered and can be slippery, so it’s important to have the right gear when hiking. The key gear to carry when hiking in cold weather conditions is warm clothing, waterproof layers, boots, snacks/water, a headlamp/flashlight, a first aid kit, a map, and a compass. Counting on cell service or downloaded maps alone is not recommended. Let’s talk about some of the best easy winter hikes in Banff and Jasper National Parks that will allow you to enjoy nature’s beauty while getting your heart pumping.
Hikers setting out on an early morning hike in winter
Where to Winter Hike in Western Canada
Backcountry trails offer hikers a chance to experience the beauty of winter in its fullest form. Grab your hiking boots and explore hidden gems in Banff and Jasper’s backcountry. Trails can vary from easy to challenging, depending on your hiking ability and the trail conditions. You can hike through snow-covered forests or along rivers. You can also enjoy hiking at high altitudes, where the weather is crisp and sunny. Front country trails are usually closer to areas with amenities. Wildlife can be found all around Banff and Jasper National Parks. You may be lucky enough to see elk, bighorn sheep, lynx, beaver, and more. You can also try ice fishing during the winter months.
Exploring the snow-covered trails of Banff and Jasper National Parks is an exhilarating winter experience but hiking in winter requires extra caution to ensure you are safe and comfortable. Check the weather forecast ahead of time to prepare for any unexpected changes. Plan your route carefully and choose a trail that can be completed before sundown. With shorter days in winter, it is important not to get caught deep into a trail after dark. Temperatures drop quickly after sundown in the mountains.
Some popular easy trails include Troll Falls and the Emerald Lake Loop (snowshoes may be required).
Stopping along the way for a hot bevvy
What to bring when winter hiking.
Before winter hiking, it’s important to prepare yourself for the weather and conditions of the trail. This includes wearing appropriate clothing and footwear - including a good pair of waterproof boots. You can bring snacks, water, a thermos of hot coffee, a first aid kit, extra layers, and a map and compass. Investing in crampons/ice cleats and an ice axe will help you tackle more challenging hikes. These accessories are essential for winter hiking as they can help you ascend snow-covered terrain with ease. Additionally, by planning ahead and investing in the right gear, you can enjoy winter hiking without compromising your safety or comfort. Choosing the right equipment such as winter-specific hiking boots, snowshoes, and potentially trekking poles is important.
Finally, make sure to pack a first-aid kit, extra clothing, and food in case of an emergency. With the right preparation, you can have a safe and enjoyable winter hike in Banff or Jasper National Parks!
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some of the best winter hikes in Banff and Jasper National Parks?
If you're looking for winter hiking destinations in Banff and Jasper National Park, then these winter hikes are sure to provide a memorable experience.
1. Johnston Canyon: This popular winter hike in Banff National Park offers stunning views of frozen waterfalls and snow-covered cliffs. It's a moderate hike that takes approximately 2 hours round trip.
2. Mount Edith Cavell: This winter hike located in Jasper National Park features an alpine lake surrounded by rocky peaks. With a total hiking time of 6 hours, it's an excellent winter destination for experienced hikers.
3. Troll Falls: An easy hike over simple terrain with low elevation gains. This hike takes about 2.5 hours
4. Lake Louise Loop: If you’re looking for a short, easy loop trail with winter scenery, then this one is perfect for you! It only takes about one hour to complete the trail, making it perfect for beginners.
Lake Louise in Winter
What to bring on a winter hike.
Essentials you will need for a winter hike:
1. Appropriate winter clothing such as a waterproof jacket, warm hat, gloves and insulated boots to keep you warm and dry.
2. A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries so that you can see your way even in the dark.
3. Ice Cleats, also called crampons or ice spikes.
4. Trekking Poles to assist with your decent.
5. An emergency kit including a first aid kit, whistle, and map of the area so that you can stay safe if any unexpected circumstances occur.
6. Sunscreen, sunglasses and lip balm to protect against UV rays and wind burn.
7. High-energy snacks such as protein bars or trail mix to keep your energy levels up throughout the hike.
8. Water bottles or other hydration systems filled with water so that you can stay hydrated during the hiking trip.
Combine Winter Hiking with Winter RV Camping
Finding an outdoor activity in winter makes the long cold days so much more enjoyable. When you know where to winter hike, it's a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the winter months. It’s even more enjoyable when you rent an RV to take you to your preferred hiking destinations. There’s nothing more satisfying than returning to the warmth of an RV after a long day of winter hiking. Shed your winter boots and gear, sit back, relax and decide where to move on to for your next winter hike.
Chilling out in a CanaDream Winter RV after a day in the snow
Where to camp in winter.
You may be wondering how to camp in the winter. Tenting is an option for some but, for most, our four-season RV will provide the ultimate in comfort and warmth. CanaDream is the only RV rental company in Canada with custom-built winter-ready RVs. These RVs are your perfect companion for hiking in winter, being fully insulated and having the ability to use all facilities, including water, in temperatures as low as minus 30C.
Banff and Jasper National Parks offer year-round RV camping with hookups. These campgrounds are operated by Parks Canada and no reservations are usually required. Make sure that you purchase a valid park pass before your trip. If your winter hiking plans take you outside of these parks, winter camping is also available at many other places across Canada. Download our free winter camping guide.
How about combining winter hiking with a Ski Safari to some of Western Canada’s best ski resorts? Many of these ski resorts offer overnight RV camping right on the hill. You might find our Western Canada Powder Trail Itinerary useful when planning your winter hiking/ski safari road trip.
A CanaDream Winter-Ready RV is the perfect companion to your winter hiking plans
Winter hiking and winter camping can be a rewarding experience for adventurers of all skill levels. Western Canada offers some spectacular opportunities for winter travel, with its stunning mountain vistas and abundant wildlife. By taking advantage of the right gear, preparation, and safety measures, you can have an enjoyable winter hiking trip while soaking up the beauty of the great outdoors. If you're looking to make your winter vacation extra special, why not combine winter hiking with a winter RV vacation? With the right planning and research, you can have an unforgettable journey that will keep you coming back for more!
For more information, talk to our knowledgeable Reservations team on web chat, call us toll-free at 1-800-347-7126 (within North America) or email us. We will be happy to answer any questions you may have about winter camping and winter hiking.