Hiking Tips - Hiking Safety
Enjoy Mountain Scenery
Have a Safe Day Walking, Hiking or Biking

Hiking Tips

Hiking is just walking on a trail, right?

Anyone can do it!!!

Hiking Tips will help to make your day in Banff.... walking, hiking or biking a good one! There are a few things to consider when you hike...you want to enjoy your day and be safe....

Going uphill is harder on the lungs, but coming downhill is much harder on the body. And if you do a lot of it, the wear and tear will get you eventually.

Here are the Rules, the Hiking tips and tricks that I live by:

What to pack in the sack

Every time you go for a walk or hike, no matter how short, bring the following items:
 food, water, sunscreen and sunhat, winter hat/mitts or gloves, rain gear.

Weather can change quickly in the Rockies. It can go from summer to winter in only a few hours, so "be prepared". Extra food and water help keep you fueled. Extra clothing keep you warm and dry. In case it's sunny and clear, sun protection helps keep you from becoming lobster-like.

Wellies?(commonly called rubber boots)

In the Rockies, downpours are rare but showers are common. There are two easy ways to stay dry under these conditions. For starters, make sure your boots are fully waterproofed.

Wellingtons are overkill, but I do recommend full leather or goretex boots. Second, bring along waterproof, breathable raingear. I recommend both a jacket and pants to keep you dry and warm. There's nothing worst than being wet and cold!!! I've been both....

R2000 insulation

Temperature control is crucial on the trail, so it's best to organize your clothing in layers that can be easily added or removed. The idea is to avoid sweating. To do this, take off layers before starting out and put them back on as soon as you stop and begin to cool down.

If it's hot and sunny, it's still important to bring a fleece or sweater. If the weather is cool, I also recommend you carry a wind breaker, winter hat and mitts. Seriously!!!

Get a grip! A hiking tip to consider!

If you are new to hiking boots, get on an angled rock and jump up and down. Jump harder and harder until you have a clear idea of what the shoes can do for you. You'll probably be amazed.

On bare rock they have great grip; you're not going anywhere!The rules change when you encounter wet conditions. Beware of wet wood (always lethally slippery), wet mud or soil on the bottom of your boots (also lethal) and wet lichens on rock (a little slippery).

Bootlaces and blackened toes - A good hiking tip!!!

After lunch, or anytime before returning downhill, re-tie your boots. Make sure that the heel is pushed back and held in place with firm lacing around the ankles. This prevents "toe-jamming" — the painful banging of your toes against the front of the boot.

If your boots are too small, your toes will bang against the front no matter what you do. Make sure when you buy boots that they are snug around the heel, the instep and the ankle, but with room around the toes.

Feel the knees, feel the knees...A hiking tip for the non athletic type...

When walking downhill, bend the knees and lean forward. This sounds simple, but you're really not used to going it. Leaning forwards feels very strange at first because our inclination is to lean backwards when the terrain feels steep.

However, if you lean backwards, your feet have a tendency to fly out from underneath you, especially when there are loose ball-bearing-like rocks underfoot.Instead, assume the athletic "ready position" with knees bent and a slight lean forward.

With feet directly underneath you and a low center of gravity, it is much less likely you'll lose your footing. If you do, the feet are perfectly placed to effect a quick recovery.

What goes up must come down - A Logical hiking tip!!

Walking downhill is in many ways harder than climbing up. Because it is so hard on the joints, it's important to always bend the knees. Use the upper leg muscles to ease your footfall. If you just "slam" your feet down (which I grant you can be very satisfying), most of your body weight comes crushing down on your knees.

Repeated abuse of the knees can cause serious problems. When lowering your body down a big "step" on the trail it is also a good idea to consciously use thigh and buttock muscles to gently bring the body down.

Rock and roll

On steep trails with loose rocks, take extra care. When choosing where to place your feet, the best surface is bare ground. But if it's rocky, bigger rocks are better, and rocks embedded in the ground are better yet. Bigger rocks tend not to move as much nor to create the "ball-bearing" effect. Always step on the uphill side of a rock so it doesn't squirt out from under your boot.

Wet, wicked waterbars

When trails are wet, stay off of roots and log waterbars (used to divert water off a trail). Use caution when crossing wooden bridges. Wet wood is the single biggest trail hazard for hikers, even more so when you are carrying a heavy pack.

Extra legs

In recent years, adjustable hiking poles have become popular. They resemble ski poles, but have some springs inside, and they can be adjusted to match anybody's height. They can take a load off your feet and knees while hiking, especially on downhill sections. Most poles are collapsible, and can be attached to the outside of a pack when not in use.

Take a break! One of my favorite hiking tips!!

Hiking takes energy and concentration, and it's easy to get pooped out while you're having "fun." Stop and smell the fir trees, or listen for the songs of birds. Remember, when it comes to hiking, the journey is the destination, so take a load off your feet and enjoy yourself!

Hiking Tips Hiking Tips - So If Walking is your passion....

Here's a few pointers....

Take a five to ten minute break every hour, eating anddrinking during each break. When resting, lay down andelevate your feet above your heart. Take off your shoes andchange your socks.

When leaving a rest stop, walk a few yards away from the site, then stop and look back for items that you may have left behind. I think this is a great hiking tip!!!I'm forever leaving something somewhere....

Walk at a leisurely pace that you know you can keep up allday. Relax and stay in tune with nature as you walk.Remember you are doing this for the journey, not thedestination. A fun hiking tip....

On ascents, lace your boots loosely around the ankles to allowplenty of movement. On downhills, avoid toe jams by seatingheels in the backs of the boots and tying laces tightly aroundthe ankles but loosely at the toes.

What a great way to spend your Canadian Vacation!!!

Hiking Tips - Banff
Hiking Tips - Hiker's Code of Ethics

These suggested guidelines will help make hiking a safe and pleasant experience for everyone:

Park your car well off the road and away from private driveways.

Stay on the trail. Taking a cutoff on a switchback trail will cause increased erosion. Making a detour around a muddy patch will destroy vegetation.

When hiking above the treeline, stay off the fragile alpine moss, lichen and wildflowers.

Keep off private property. Landowners often give permission for the trail to pass over their land and may revoke that privilege if people stray all over their land.

Some parks do not allow dogs because they may run off and chase the wildlife. If you do take your dog hiking, make certain that it stays under control and clean up after it.

Avoid hiking when the trails are wet, especially in the early spring, as this can lead to trail erosion.

A fire should only be started if you are camping and it is in a special camp fire container. Fires are not permitted when the forest fire index is high.

If you smoke, make certain that your cigarette is completely extinguished when you are finished and carry the butt out with you.

When nature calls, go off the trail and keep at least 100 yards from streams and lakes to avoid contaminating the water. Bury your toilet paper and feces several inches deep.

Pack out any garbage that you have brought with you.

Leave nothing behind--not even footprints.

Take nothing except photographs. Leave wildflowers and other plants for others to enjoy.

Don't feed the wildlife. Increasing a species' food supply can disturb the balance of nature.

When meeting a horseback rider, step off to the right of the trail and stand still until the rider passes. Any fast movement may frighten the horse.

Don't throw rocks or anything else over the side of mountains--they may strike someone passing below.

Probably the best hiking tip is proper planning. Obtain trail maps, guidebooks, traildistance, estimated time required and any other information before youleave on a hike.

Here are a couple of books I would recommend for your hiking experience in Banff...great information to have as you set out for the day. Also a great gift for any outdoor enthusiast....

It's light weight and a practical size.

Offering descriptions of 50 Banff walks & hikes.

Plus dozens of side trips.

More than 100 stunning color photographs of Banff Hikes.

Trail description from the Canadian Rockies Trail Guide (Brian Patton and Bart Robinson; Summerthought Publishing ), the original hiking guide to Banff National Park and the contiguous parks.

Originally published in 1971 and now in its 8th edition, this book details over 3,400 kilometres of hiking trails in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes National Parks.

Get these great books! Remember these hiking tips, then plan your vacation....see the awesome Mountain Scenery in the Canadian Rockies.

Keep trail maps and guidebooks in a waterproof ziplock bag.

Consider using a GPS (Global Positioning System)

Check weather conditions and forecast. This hiking tip is a must.

Consider the ability level of everyone in your group, when choosing a hike.It’s very important to tell someone of your plans and when you expect to return. In an emergency, this could help with the rescue. Check in with them when you get back.

Never hike alone. Always go with a friend.

Start early so that you have plenty of time to enjoy your hike and the destination. Plan to head back so you finish your hike well before dark.

Hike only as fast as the slowest member of your group.

Pace yourself. Don’t hike too quickly. Save your energy.

Stay on trails unless you have excellent navigational skills.

Never approach wild animals. They may look cute and harmless butthey are very unpredictable and can be very territorial and protective.Always be alert and aware of your surroundings. In most cases, the animals are more afraid of us and will run away. Do not attempt to feed wild animals. Most injuries occur when people try to feed them.

Be careful where you are walking. Watch out for low branches andloose rocks. Take it slow through mud and water and be careful ofloose leaves on the trail. Stay away from steep cliffs and other drop off areas. Look out for brush with thorns.

Keep track of your progress on the map so that you know where youare at all times.

Take turns leading and following trail markers. Share decisions.

Pack high energy snacks like granola, energy or fruit bars, trail mixes,fruit, candy, beef jerky, bagels, or pita bread, etc.

Don’t drink soda or alcohol when hiking. They will dehydrate you.

For blisters or hot spots use moleskin or bandages immediately to stop further damage and to relieve pain. Keep your feet dry – change socks often.

Protect yourself against other insects such as bees, ants, mosquitoes, flies, etc. Not only can they be annoying, but they can cause quite a bit of pain and discomfort. Many people have severe allergic reactions to their bites and need to carry necessary medical supplies or seek medical attention.Again be aware of your surroundings.

Bring a whistle on hikes. Three short whistles mean you are in trouble and need assistance. Good hiking tip to know.

Hiking Tips - Responsible Trail Use

Minimize the Impact of Hiking and Cycling

The Banff fragile mountain landscape is visited by more than 3 million people a year. Minimize your impact by staying on trails and not shortcutting or making your own route.

For your hiking safety....Cyclists, must observe trail restrictions marked on the map and read the cyclist information. Avoid riding when the trails are wet or muddy, and try not to skid or widen trails.

Ride in control, be ready to stop at any time, and make your presence known to pedestrians with a bell or friendly greeting.

Hiking Tips - Dogs

Dogs are welcome to join you, but please keep them leashed and carry a bag for waste pick-up. Dog bag dispensers and garbage bins are provided at various locations.


Please help keep Banff litter free. Consider picking up other litter to leave the area cleaner than you found it!


Leave flowers for others to enjoy. Picking them not only prevents the plant from reproducing, but is illegal, too. 

Trail Restrictions

Some trails may be closed temporarily due to wildlife or safety hazards. Please observe posted closures for your hiking safety.

Route Hazards

Banff’s natural beauty includes potentially hazardous landscapes. Standing too close to the edge of cliffs or rushing water, hiking on snowy or icy trails, or scrambling off-trail are risky activities that can have disastrous consequences. A hiking tip worth remembering!!!


When we hike we share these trails with wildlife, so always pay attention. Elk or deer are most commonly seen, but bears and cougars have made occasional appearances. All wildlife is unpredictable and should never be approached. Report bear or cougar sightings, or any aggressive wildlife behavior to Parks Canada, 403.762.1470.

More Hiking Tips - Trail Information for CyclistsBanff is a bike-friendly town, and bicycles are allowed on most Town of Banff trails. However, cyclists are not permitted on a few of our trails:

Sundance Canyon Loop, Tunnel Mountain, Sulphur Mountain, and Mount Rundle. Bikes are not allowed on these trails.

Cascade Gardens: Bikes are allowed on the paved road around the Parks Administration Building and on the gardens' service road, but not within the gardens or on the trail that climbs up alongside them. Use caution in this busy area.

Bow River Trail: The section of this trail between Central Park and Wolf Street sees heavy pedestrian use. Please ride on adjacent Bow Avenue instead of on the trail. At the downstream end of this trail, avoid a steep staircase by using the signed link to Buffalo Street.

Bow Falls Trail: No bikes, please, on the riverside pedestrian trail (use the adjacent multi-use trail instead), or the clifftop/staircase sections. Bike racks are provided at clifftop trail access points. Help preserve the fragile hills of the Bow Falls area by not biking on them.

For your hiking saftey...walking, hiking or biking in the Canadian Rocky Mountains has some risk due to a number of constantly changing conditions. These conditions include unpredictable weather, rain, flash floods, falling rocks, mudslides, falling trees and more.

You are responsible for your own safety and well being while hiking! Trail heads, signage, parking, etc. are also subject to change as well.

In order to get the most recent hiking tips and conditions, I strongly recommend that you contact the Banff Information Centre prior to your hike. They will provide you with the most current conditions and hike details for your enjoyment and safety.

The Banff Information Centre is located at 224 Banff Avenue and is open from 8AM to 8PM in the Summer. They can be reached by calling 403.762.1550.

Hike Safe - Is the Number One Hiking Tip!!!!

You're ready to take on those mountains!!! You've got sensible Hiking tips, good Hiking safety information and even a code of ethics!!!

So you're ready for some mountain scenery..it's everywhere.

Enjoy your day.....make the most of your Canadian Holiday.

You will love it....

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