The stunning peaks, glaciers and high passes of the Canadian Rockies are best appreciated on foot. This adventure packs in the highlights of the area's best parks, including an exhilarating heli-hike at the base of Mt Assiniboine, the "Matterhorn" of the Canadian Rockies. Waterton Lakes National Park with its red rock canyons and deep blue lakes is the perfect backdrop for our first hike. We make our way north through Kananaskis country to the town of Banff. For the next 2 days, we enjoy alpine hikes in Banff National Park, across scenic mountain passes, surrounded by alpine lakes and meadows. Back on the road, along the famous Columbia Icefields Parkway, we stop and hike to Wilcox Pass for sweeping views of the Columbia Icefield. In Lake Louise, we choose from a treasure trove of great hikes with awesome views over Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Finally we helicopter into the base of Mt Assiniboine, and undertake a unique heli hike into a remote area where we camp for 2 nights and spend the days enjoying high alpine hikes (up to 2635m) with panoramic views stretching from dramatic Mt Assiniboine to Kootenay National Park.
These adventures involve trekking, cycling, rafting or sea kayaking for up to 6 or 7 hours a day at a steady pace. You will need a good level of fitness and be in good health. The majority of our moderately graded treks involve the carrying of a day pack only, though some may involve carrying a full pack. Be prepared for potential variable weather conditions. Suggested preparation; 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week and extended periods of exercise during the weekend will accustom you to regular exercise. Hill walking with a pack in variable weather conditions will be beneficial if you are taking part in a trekking adventure, kayaking or road cycling is also recommended depending upon the activity you plan to undertake.
Make your way to the group hotel. A briefing about the upcoming hiking days will be held in the evening.
After breakfast we will drive to Waterton Lakes National Park, with a stop at Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo-Jump, one of the largest buffalo jumps in North America and an interesting introduction to the life of the Plains Indian. In the evening, we take a sightseeing drive up to Red Rock Canyon; Grizzly and Black Bears are often seen along the road. Overnight Waterton.
We first cross Waterton Lake by boat to reach the start of the trail to Crypt Lake. The trail climbs from the shoreline through montane forest up the valley of Hell Roaring Creek, which is prime bear habitat, and past several waterfalls. The trail continues by a climb up a ladder and into a 25 m. long tunnel, which we have to crawl through! Our goal is beautiful Crypt Lake, which lies at 1945 m. and straddles the US-Canadian border. On the return we take a detour following the Hell Roaring Canyon. Overnight Waterton (approx elevation gain 700m)
Waterton Lakes National Park has it's own special scenery: red rock canyons, hundreds of deep blue lakes, bear grass (vegetation found nowhere else in the Rockies). There is plenty of wildlife: bighorn sheep, black bears, grizzly bears and cougars. Today's trail climbs a forested hillside above Cameron Lake (1660m), with switchbacks to Summit Lake (1930m) and then on to Carthew Pass (2311m). The trail then descends to Carthew Lakes where it winds along the lakeshore and on to Alderson Lake (1811m). The final descent through the forested valley we view Waterton Lake and the town of Waterton below. The walk ends in the town. (approx. elevation gain 650m)
Through the ranch country and the foothills of southern Alberta to Longview. We make a short stop in Longview to sample some of the best beef jerky. Then we drive across Highwood Pass, the highest paved road in Canada and through the amazing Kananaskis Country. The rugged and steep grey layers of the front ranges reach out into the sky. We leave the Kananaskis area and drive into Banff National Park for the next three nights. The snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains form a spectacular backdrop for glacial lakes, fast-flowing rivers and endless forests. The park's vast wilderness is home to elk, deer, moose, caribou, mountain goats, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bears, wolves and cougars. Overnight Tunnel Mountain Campground in Banff.
Today's hike will be one of our easiest but definitely one of the most beautiful as we'll be able to save most of the uphill walking today by taking the Sunshine Meadow shuttle bus into the alpine areas surrounding the Continental Divide. Our walk will lead us past three alpine lakes, fields of wildflowers and to enjoy vistas stretching up to 50 kms in all directions. An early afternoon finish will leave time to explore the town of Banff. Overnight Tunnel Mountain Campground in Banff.
Set amongst the rugged limestone peaks of the Sawback Range the trail to Cory Pass ventures from the montane valley bottom to well above tree line. After climbing up to Cory Pass(2363 m), we will hike through a forested passage to Gargoyle Valley. We will then cross Edith Pass and descend into the ambient foot of Mt. Louis (2682m) a dogtooth spire, one of the most characteristic peaks in the Rockies. Below, the Bow River winds its way calmly on the valley floor. Overnight Approx elevation gain 915m. Overnight Tunnel Mountain Campground in Banff.
After breakfast we take one of the most magnificent mountain roads in the world, the Columbia Icefields Parkway. Along the way we stop at some of the spectacular viewpoints, including Bow Lake, Peyto Lake overlook, and the Weeping Wall. On our way to the campsite at Waterfowl Lake, we will hike to Helen Lake and into alpine tundra above the tree line. Overnight Waterfowl Lake. (Walking distance 5km/2hrs, elevation gain 250m)
Our hike begins near the Icefield Centre through an ancient forest. At the other end of the forest the open alpine meadow unfolds in front of us. The views of Mount Athabasca (3490 m), Mount Andromeda (3442 m), Mount Kitchener (3511 m), the Columbia Icefield and Athabasca Glacier are outstanding. For an even better view we might hike along the ridge leading towards Wilcox Peak (2884 m). If time and logistics allow, we may descend to the other side of the pass to Tangle Falls, a favourite rest place for bighorn sheep. In the afternoon we explore the toe of Athabasca Glacier. Overnight Waterfowl Lake.
After an early morning departure, we'll drive directly back down the Icefields Parkway and stop at world famous Lake Louise, where we will have a choice of hikes available including a walk to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, or to the Plain of Six Glaciers or to do a round trip circuit including both. After our hike we'll set up camp and relax for the evening. Overnight Lake Louise.
We drive west across the Continental Divide into British Columbia along the Kicking Horse River past the spiral tunnels built for the railroad and into Yoho National Park. We reach the trail head near 380m high Takakkaw Falls, meaning 'magnificent' in the Cree Indian language. We walk up from Takakkaw Falls, ascending steeply up to the Ice line (1860m) trail between glaciers and tree line. The trail then maintains its elevation with spectacular views of Takakkaw Falls and the alpine glaciers until we descend into little Yoho Valley. Overnight Lake Louise. (approx elevation gain 695m)
We depart for Mt. Assiniboine (3618m) by helicopter. From Spray Lake we fly through the Sundance Range towards the glaciers and Lake Magog at the base of the "Matterhorn in the Canadian Rockies". We will need to hike approximately 2km to the campsite, with food and camp gear. In the afternoon, we hike past Sunburst Lake and Cerulean (meaning resembling the blue colour of the sky) Lake to Nub Ridge a stunning viewpoint of 5 mountain lakes and Mt Assiniboine as a dramatic backdrop. Overnight Lake Magog. *Please note that a single supplement is not available for accommodation at Lake Magog.
We ascend to the meadows near Og Pass (2309m) and continue north to Windy Ridge (2635m). The ridge provides a splendid panorama of Mt. Assiniboine and north to Kootenay National Park. Overnight Lake Magog.
From Lake Magog we drop most of our gear to be helicoptered out.* Then we cross Wonder Pass (2395m) on foot and descend to Marvel Lake (1785m) and to Mt. Shark Trailhead (1770m). We say goodbye to the Canadian Rockies as we head back to Canmore. After settling into our Canmore hotel, we have a farewell dinner at our favourite Restaurant. Overnight Canmore Hotel.
*Gear may not be picked up until the evening, so departures tonight are not recommended.
After breakfast we will provide transfers to Calgary and the airport.
Per Person, Twin Share