Bow Falls Trail, located in the heart of the Town of Banff, is a popular tourist attraction for viewing a shallow but wide waterfall. For a longer hike, wander down the trail from downtown, or, for a shorter hike, drive straight to the falls and explore the area from the parking lot below the Banff Springs Hotel.
Head to the falls early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the crowds and tourist buses.
Closed: Upper Section has seasonal closures
Difficulty: Option 1: Moderate; Option 2: Easy
Distance: Option 1: 2.4 km (1.5 mi) out and back;
Option 2: Explore trails freely from parking lot
Elevation: 10 m (32 ft)
Highlights: Waterfall, Bridge, Mountain Views, Stairs, Benches
Facilities: Town of Banff Facilities
Optional Gear: Stroller, Wheelchair, Carrier
TrailRider Rating: Easy* and Challenging Options
Head to the Town of Banff, off of the Trans Canada Highway AB-1 W and choose one of the following trailhead options.
Option 1: Walk from the Town of Banff and start the trail from the bridge on Banff Avenue.
Option 2: Drive straight to Bow Falls parking lot off Bow Falls Drive. The falls will be visible as soon as you reach
the water from the parking lot. There is no restroom in
the parking lot.
Head away from the town centre and cross to the south side of the bridge on Banff Avenue. After crossing the bridge, follow the sign that connects to the trail heading east, left, towards the falls.
As you near the falls there are quite a few sets of stairs to maneuver down and you will soon have a view of the falls from the top. Stay on the trail to explore further or head back the way you came.
There is the option of heading straight to the waterfall from the parking lot for a shorter trail experience. From the parking lot, make your way to the water and the falls will be on your left. For a closer view of the stairs, follow the trail left and head up the stairs for a view of the falls from the top. Return the way you came.
*The easy trail is the only stroller friendly and wheelchair-accessible options.
After the hike, drive up the hill to Banff Hot Springs to relax in their hot pools or enjoy an ice cream treat at Cow’s Ice Cream on Banff Avenue. Johnston Canyon is another beautiful family friendly hike in the area to two waterfalls. A less touristy option is to hike up to Silverton Falls.
Want more hikes like this one?
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