Picture of Vermillion Lakes
Apr 14, 2016 by Kyla Jacobs
Shoulder. Transition. The In-Between. Whatever you call it, there’s no off-season in Banff. Here are 5 outdoor ways to keep your adventure-cravings at ease during spring.
A view hikers can enjoy while hiking the Sulfur Mountain Trail. Photo credit: @Shazron
Nix the ever-popular lazy man’s Gondola ride (it’s in fact closed until August 2016*.) Instead, set aside three hours to hike up, take in the stunning views of the valley and town, then head straight back down the winding trail. Make sure to have good hiking footwear that can withstand the remaining patches of ice and snow. Follow this killer quad-session with a slice, a brewskie and game of ten pin at Banff’s latest downtown hotspot High Rollers.
Looking for something easier on the legs and lungs? Banff’s most popular trail is a simple 1.5 hour round trip (2 hours if you tend to doddle). No special equipment needed other than a decent pair of athletic shoes. It’s now clear of winter’s remnants and boasts beautiful views of the town and Banff Springs golf course. Bonus: you’ll be left with plenty of time to indulge in more tourist activities in your day (hello, Hot Springs).
A view of the golf course. Photo credit: @Davebloggs007
Photo credit: @Davebloggs007
Beat the summer crowds (and bugs) and soak up fresh alpine air as you eat, sleep and cook. Your tent-making skills need some practice, plus you’re not used to sleeping without your cozy 5-spring mattress. That’s a workout enough. Banff National Park’s general camping season doesn’t open up fully until June, but you can brave the cooler nights and mornings by making a reservation at the Minnewanka or Glacier Lake lower elevation campground sites. Caution: be prepared as Glacier Lake still holds snow. Pack warm layers, waterproof footwear, and warm socks and gloves. Book your spot by calling the backcountry parks reservation line @ 403.762.1556.
Cover a lot of ground and give your calves and quads some love by taking in several biking trails around town. Head on over to Soul Ski & Banff on Bear Street and rent one of their bikes, perfect for this shoulder season. Choose a hardtail mountain bike if you’re game for cruising a mixed trail like the Banff Springs Golf Course, Vermillion Lakes or the Minnewanka Loop – all which happen to be dry terrain at this time. You could also rent a road bike and ride the Legacy Trail – a paved narrow road that connects Banff to Canmore. Town bikes for cruising around town will be available to rent from late April onwards.
Take your pick: basketball, soccer, bocce, ultimate Frisbee or football. The Banff Rec Grounds are ready for stomping, whichever way you see fit. Dust off the old equipment, gather a gang and dress in layers to make it an afternoon of pick up games. Sheltered wood stoves are available so you can get your outdoor picnicking on. Just remember to bring your own wood. Although the grounds are not busy this time of year, bookings can be made through the Town of Banff to guarantee your cooking space. You know what they say - early bird gets the (bbq’d) worm.
One last warning: The bears are out of hibernation and hungry. Travel in groups of 3 or more and head out with bear spray and the know-how. We want to you to return safe and sound to indulge in a hot tub or two before you head home.
*The boardwalk at the summit of Sulfur Mountains re-opens on May 1st. So if you hike up before than, you’ll get stopped by Parks Canada before reaching the summit.
Keep an eye out for the Banff Squirrel!