Tunnel Mountain climbs switchbacks for the full 4.3 km and offers expansive views of the Town of Banff and Mount Rundle. It is a challenging hike for families but has been dubbed by locals as the perfect place for kids to summit their first mountain. Even some experienced two and three-year-old hikers have summited Tunnel Mountain.
If you want to explore the Banff National Park area then try these 10 Easy Hikes in Banff National Park.
The hike is heavily trafficked in the summer and an early start is recommended
Closures: In the winter, the upper trailhead
is closed to vehicle traffic.
Distance: 4.3 km (2.6 mi) out and back*
Elevation: 300 m* (984 ft)
Highlights: Mountain Views, Views of the Town of Banff, Red Chair Viewpoint
Facitialies: All of Banff Facilities
Optional Gear: Carrier
Tunnel Mountain starts in the Town of Banff. See trailhead notes for directions to the lower and upper trailhead.
The Lower Trailhead is the beginning of the 4.3 km out and back trail and starts from the base of the mountain on the north
side of St. Julien Rd. There is a sign indicating the trailhead.
With older children, consider walking from the Town of Banff to the trailhead.
The Upper Trailhead starts just north of the Banff Centre on Tunnel Mountain Drive and shortens the hike to 3.6 km out and back. The parking lot is very small and finding a spot
may be challenging.
Tunnel Mountain is challenging for kids as the trail climbs switchbacks immediately and steadily throughout the whole hike. Do not let that scare you away from trying out the trail as some two and three-year-old’s have completed the hike on their own.
As you make your way up the narrow but steady path, make sure to take in the views between the trees. Eventually, the trees will thin out and you will have the occasional view of the Town of Banff, Banff Springs Hotel, and the surrounding mountains. Continue climbing up until you reach the summit.
The summit is rocky, wide and lightly covered with trees. Use caution as you hike along the cliff side. Take a moment to enjoy the views while sitting on the strategically placed red chairs or on the rocks. Follow the trail around and take in the views of Mount Rundle and the Banff Springs Golf Course before heading back the way you came.
Unlike the name suggests, there is no tunnel. Initially, a tunnel was to be blasted through the mountain to create a route for the Canadian Pacific Railway. Eventually they decided to go around the mountain instead which cost significantly less money to build.
Aside from enjoying the amenities that the Town of Banff has to offer, consider driving to one of the playgrounds in Banff. Then, walk or drive to Bow Falls to take in one more tourist attraction before finishing the day.
Want more hikes like this one?
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