EARLY SEASON HIKE SCHEDULE

Early Season Hikes: June 1 – June 30 2016 – see below for details on each hike.

Wednesday June 1st Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
Thursday June 2nd Yamnuska (Intermediate)
Friday June 3rd Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Saturday June 4th Castle Mountain Lookout (Intermediate)
Sunday June 5th Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
Monday June 6th Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
Tuesday June 7th Yamnuska (Intermediate)
Wednesday June 8th Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
Thursday June 9th Yamnuska (Intermediate)
Friday June 10th Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
Saturday June 11th  Castle Mountain Lookout (Intermediate)
Sunday June 12th Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
Monday June 13th C Level Cirque (Intermediate)
 Tuesday June 14th  Yamnuska (Intermediate)
 Wednesday June 15th  Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Thursday June 16th   Yamnuska (Intermediate)
 Friday June 17th  Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Saturday June 18th  Castle Mountain Lookout (Intermediate)
 Sunday June 19th  Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Monday June 20th  C Level Cirque (Intermediate)
 Tuesday June 21st  Yamnuska (Intermediate)
 Wednesday June 22nd  Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Thursday June 23rd  Yamnuska (Intermediate)
 Friday June 24th  Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Saturday June 25th  Castle Mountain Lookout (Intermediate)
 Sunday June 26th  Inkpots (Moderate to Intermediate)
 Monday June 27th  C Level Cirque (Intermediate)
Tuesday June 28th Yamnuska (Intermediate)
Wednesday June 29th Lake Minnewanka Shoreline (Moderate to Intermediate)
Thursday June 30th Yamnuska (Intermediate)

Castle Lookout – INTERMEDIATE – DIFFICULT
Distance: 8 km return
Elevation gain: 520 m / 1690 ft
Time: 3 – 4 hours return
Trailhead: is on Bow Valley Parkway, 5 km west of Castle Junction
This is a short, steep path that climbs to a tremendous viewing area. From the lookout, which is still far below the crest of the imposing Castle Mountain, the Bow Valley extends in both directions in almost limitless majesty. Steady, moderate climb up fire access road turns into steeper grade on trail at 2.2 km mark.  Old cabin at 1.5 km may date back to mining in the valley, circa 1884.  Moderate to steep uphill continues through switchbacks to old fire lookout location, built by objectors in 1942 and abandoned in the mid-1970’s.  This south-facing slope offers early season hiking with spectacular views of the Bow Valley, Pilot Peak, Storm Mountain, and Lake Louise area.  You will work to enjoy this view, climbing more than 530m in just 3.7-km, but few have ever complained after experiencing the panorama they are rewarded with at the lookout.  The return trip is all downhill and a much faster walk than the ascent.  Check for ticks at end of hike.  If group is strong and returns quickly, guide may choose to visit Silverton Falls as well.

C-Level Cirque – INTERMEDIATE       
Distance: 3.9 km (2.4 mi)
Elevation gain: 455 m (1,500 ft) Maximum elevation: 1920 m (6,300 ft)
Time: allow 3 hours
Upper Bankhead Picnic Area to C Level Cirque . The C Level Cirque trail is one of the more attractive hikes in the Banff-Lake Minnewanka vicinity. In less than 4 km it climbs past artifacts of the long-defunct Bankhead coal operation and a panoramic viewpoint for Lake Minnewanka to a high, rockbound pocket beneath the sheer east face of Cascade Mountain. The trail begins its ascent through a pleasantly varied forest of lodgepole pine, aspen and spruce, where calypso orchids, blue clematis and many colourful violets bloom in early summer.
Maps: Banff 82 O/4; Banff Up-Close (Gem Trek)

Inkpots – EASY  – MODERATE – INTERMEDIATE
Distance: 5.8 km (3.6 miles) return
Elevation gain: 215m (700 feet)
Time: 4-5 hours return trip return
Trailhead: Johnston canyon trailhead.
Starting Point: Drive west from Banff on the Trans-Canada Hwy. Take the 1A Hwy ( Bow Valley Parkway ) turnoff and continue west 18 km (11 miles) to Johnston Canyon Lodge. Past the lodge, a trail sign at the northern end of the parking lot marks the start of the hike.
The trail begins as a paved walkway for the first 1.1 km (0.7 miles) to the Lower Falls. Here, the water plunges 10 m (33 feet) into a deeply carved pothole below. The trail becomes slightly more rugged as the hike continues to the Upper Falls and Ink Pots. The Upper Falls are dramatic with water cascading down more than 30 m (almost 100 feet). At this point, the trail leaves the creek and widens on route to the Ink Pots. It narrows again for a final descent to the Ink Pots (six clear greenish pools filled with spring water that remains at a constant 1-degree Celsius year-round).
Certainly an area that shows the power of nature and time – rushing water carves a path through the limestone canyon and potholes form over the years from plunging waterfalls. This is one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park.
Maps: Banff , 82 0/4 West  Mount Eisenhower ( Castle Mtn. ), 82 0/5 West

Lake Minnewanka Shoreline – MODERATE – INTERMEDIATE       
Distance: 14km
Elevation gain: is minimal 65m
Beautiful walk along the shoreline of Lake Minnewanka. Stunning views and pleasant walk through montane habitat, stopping at an Aspen grove before returning on the same path.
When Sir George Simpson, Governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company, made the first recorded visit to Lake Minnewanka in August, 1841, he marvelled at the beauty of the lake and exclaimed that “the surrounding mountains were very grand, of every varied form…their craggy summits resembling battlements among which dizzy heights the goat and sheep delight to bound.” Hikers who journey to Aylmer Lookout and Pass can retrace part of Sir George’s route and visit those dizzy heights where many sheep (and wood ticks) delight to bound.

Yammuska – MODERATE – INTERMEDIATE       
Distance: 8 km
Elevation gain: 533 meters
Time: 2 – 4 hours
Trail head: Leave Banff heading East on highway #1.At exit #114 head north to Seebe/Exshaw. At this point you will be on highway 1X. Travel 3.5 kilometers and turn right (east) on Highway 1A. The turn for the parking lot for Mount Yamnuska is less than a kilometer to the east on Highway 1A. The parking lot is on the north side of the highway a couple of hundred meters off of highway 1A. (Drive takes about 30 minutes)
With our guest we follow the hiking trail to the base of the sharper more ragged cliffs. This is where we stop for lunch. We do not do the full route on this trip as it is a scramble. We do enjoy the stunning views, amazing wildflowers and sheer beauty of the area before returning on the same trail that we entered in on.  This is a great hike. Stunning wildflowers in early spring and birds in the lower Aspen forest bring a bird and flower guide to help you identify plants etc.  Guides can take the 1A on the return drive for beautiful views.

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