Banff National Park, in the Canadian Rockies, is a popular place to hike and some trails, particularly around Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, can be very crowded. The Lake Annette Trail in the Paradise Valley region south of the village of Lake Louise is not as well known and suitable for families with kids.
The Lake Annette Trail is 5.7 km one way and there is very little elevation (elevation gain of 245 m). The trail begins from the Paradise Valley parking lot and takes you right under the north face of Mount Temple, the highest peak in the Lake Louise area.
From the trailhead there is a steady hike along a well-groomed path that winds it way through old growth forest for about 45 minutes. When we were there in June there were still banks of snow. In fact, this trail is a cross-country ski route in winter.
Then you’re in a gorgeous alpine meadow with lots of wildflowers and you can see Mount Temple just up ahead. It is obvious then why this is called Paradise Valley. The views are stunning.You follow the creek for a ways, crossing the occasional bridge, and then it’s a short climb up to Lake Annette.
Lake Annette is small and a perfect place to have lunch and skip rocks.
There are other hiking trails that start at the Paradise Valley trailhead and they are well signed. A more difficult hike beyond Lake Annette is to the scenic lookout called Giant Steps.
The trailhead is about a 10-minute drive from Lake Louise. Take the Lake Louise Drive west, turn onto Moraine Lake Road, drive for 2.5 km and the Paradise Valley parking lot is on your right. When we were there in June we saw maybe 8 people on the trail.
– Cell phones are not always reliable in the backcountry.
– Study trail descriptions and maps before starting.
– Check the weather forecast and current trail conditions.
– Choose a trail suitable for the least experienced member in your group.
– Pack adequate food, water, clothing, maps and gear.
– Carry a first aid kit and bear spray.
– Tell somebody where you are going, when you will be back, and who to call if you do not return.
– Travel with a friend or group.
– Be prepared for emergencies and changes in weather.
This interview with Andrew Sunter has been condensed and edited.
Photo credits Andrew and Erin Sunter
© Riding the buses 2014