After a lot of debate and discussion, we are going to spend our summer vacation in Banff National Park exploring the trails and hidden lakes around Banff and Lake Louise.
Our home base will the Castle Mountain Campground. It’s in the shadow of the Castle Mountain and the Main Range of mountains. We scouted it out last week and it is gorgeous. We have our 8 person and two room tent for Jordon, Marley and I. Mark and Oliver have a 5 person tent they are sharing. Well, we will see how that turns out.
The plan is to drive from Saskatoon to Calgary on July 3rd and spend the night at the Best Western Calgary Centre. We have stayed there twice before and liked it. Then on Monday morning we will head up to Banff National Park and make camp. Since we are camping in the middle of bear country, our food will be in a food locker.
After that is done, we will drive back down the Bow Valley Parkway and hike Johnston Canyon past the lower and higher falls before pressing on unto the ink pots. In the afternoon we will explore the nearby Silverton waterfall, a little known but really high waterfall near Castle Mountain.
Tuesday we will start out with a trip to the Lake Agnes Tea House at Lake Louise. It’s a short hike but it will be a long day before we head back to the campground. Since we are up in the area, the afternoon will be spent hiking around Moraine Lake.
Wednesday we are heading up our first mountain. In fact, it’s the only urban mountain that I know of; Tunnel Mountain. Then we will take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain. I am not worried about Marley on the hikes but I am worried about her on a gondola. Since there is no showers in the campground, we are going to shower and chill out in the Banff Hot Springs. We will also resupply our food stocks at the Safeway in Banff.
Thursday, we are heading up to the Plains of Six Glaciers Tea House. That is a long hike, lots of elevation and a long day.
Friday we are undecided about which hike to try. Since there is a lot of time between then and now, we will decide.
Saturday we are breaking camp and then driving 70 km past Lake Louise where we are hiking to Glacier Lake.
The hike to Glacier Lake and it’s backcountry campground is considered easy to moderate. It is approximately 18Km return with a total elevation gain of 400m, allow 5-6 hours return.
At about 1 Km you will reach the foot bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River. Cross the bridge and continue on another 1.2Km until you reach the Howse River View Point. Interesting to note that David Thompson who led a group of fur traders camped at this spot for several days in 1807. From this viewpoint you can see Howse Pass, Mount Murchison, Mount Outram, the Sir James Glacier and the beautifully colored Howse River.
Follow the trail to your right (west) as it drops down towards the river. The trail meanders upstream along the bank of the Howes River for another 2Km or so then enters a lush spruce, fir and pine forest. In approximately 4.5km you’ll reach a sign that points towards the Glacier Lake Campground.
The trail splits here towards Glacier Lake and the dangerous Howes River crossing that joins the historic Howse Pass Trail. From this sign it is a short distance down to Glacier Lake. Glacier Lake is the fourth largest lake in Banff National Park. It is 4.6Km long and .9Km wide. The lake is fed from the massive Lyell Glacier that is 8.5Km west of here.
We plan to camp overnight and return in the morning. Once we get back on Sunday, we will grab a shower and then head back to Saskatoon.