5 Must-Try Summer Hikes Around the Bow Valley

Written by
Staff Writer
July 28, 2022
Last Update
First Published on

There is so much to explore during a summer in the Canadian Rockies. We at Basecamp Resorts benefit from having some of Canada’s most epic natural wonders right in our backyard… from Banff National Park, through the Bow Valley Parkway in Canmore, and all the way to Revelstoke, British Columbia.

Whether you’re staying with us at one of our Canmore properties or not, we’ve compiled a list of the 5 Best Summer Hikes Around the Bow Valley for the outdoor adventurers - pick one, or do them all! The best part is enjoying a relaxing soak in one of our rooftop hot tubs after a day of adventure in the mountains.

1. C-Level Cirque

View from the top of C-Level Cirque

C-Level Cirque is a rewarding 9.3km / 5.78mi out-and-back trail in Banff National Park, Alberta. On average it will take about 4.5 hours to complete. Hikers will find themselves winding through forests and old mine shafts for the first 4km / 2.5mi as they head towards the east face of Cascade Mountain. Eventually, you will pop out of the gorgeous winding forest trail, and are met with a steep hike/easy scramble up to the right of the cirque where you can catch amazing views of Lake Minnewanka and Two-Jack Lake from above the treeline.

*Pro-tip, poles make the descent a heck of a lot easier and will have your knees feeling a little less wobbly at the end.

2. Chester Lake

Chester Lake is a short drive outside of downtown Canmore in the Spray Valley Provincial Park, Kananaskis Country, Alberta. Hike your way to gorgeous views and a cool lake without a steep ascent. Hiking to Chester Lake is approximately 10km / 6.2mi return and will take the average hiker approximately 4 hours to go out and back. The elevation you gain is just over 300m / 984 ft. There is lots to love about Chester Lake, especially its gorgeous wildflowers, lush forests and refreshing lake, which if you’re feeling lucky, is home to some Dolly Varden, a great challenge for any backpacking anglers. The parking lot and trailhead are well marked, and the trail itself is well-maintained.

*Pro-tip, late summer and early fall is a great time to visit this trail as the Larches begin to change colour.

3. Policeman Creek Trail

Policeman Creek Trail is a 4.2km / 2.61mi trail that starts in downtown Canmore and follows Policeman Creek through the forest and alongside small ponds. Considered easy, it will take trail users an average of 1 hour to complete and is great for vacationers or road-trippers looking to stay close to town. This popular urban trail is accessible and great for walking and biking. Enjoy gorgeous views of the mountains that surround Canmore, don’t forget to pack a camera as you’ll definitely want to take photos from the bridge and boardwalk. This is a great trail for “non-hikers” or adventurers with small children who are new to hiking.

*Pro-tip, grab an iced coffee or your favourite bevy from a local spot in town before heading down Policeman Creek trail.

4. Bow River Loop

Enjoy epic views from start to finish on the Bow River Loop. This 2km / 1.24mi loop accessible from the Canmore Nordic Centre. Considered an easy route, it will take approximately 30 - 40 min to complete and is a great way to start your day. The Bow River Loop is a popular paved trail that is great for walking and trail running )and if you’re lucky you can enjoy some peace during quieter times of the day). This loop is great for all ages and experience levels. The whole family will enjoy stopping for a photo-op at the old railway bridge, too!

*Pro-tip, consider this trail at sunset for epic views as the sun sets in the West over the gorgeous mountains surrounding Canmore, Alberta

5. Westwind Creek Trail Loop

The Westwind Creek Trail loop is a quick 5-min drive east outside of Canmore, Alberta. Explore the 7.6km / 4.72mi loop near Deadman’s Flats. This hike offers trail users a gorgeous view of Mount Lougheed and will take approximately 2.5 hours to complete. This loop can be completed clockwise or counter-clockwise, although our preference is to go right for the steep incline and easier decline. This mostly forested trail is great on sunny days, offers great views going down and is considered a moderate hike for families with young kids.

*Pro-tip, layer on a level of difficulty with the Wind Ridge Trail, aptly named… for you guessed it, the wind ;) This trail is marked as ‘hard’ but offers great views of Mt Lougheed, Rimwall, the Sisters, Windtower, Pigeon, and the back of Yamnuska.


With this list of new hikes to explore in the Bow Valley, you’ll need a place to stay that has quick access to them all. We recommend checking out one of our amazing Basecamp Resort properties located throughout Canmore. Our properties each provide a unique experience unlike that of your typical hotel. Each has breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains (some even from rooftop hot tubs).

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