Top 5 hikes in Western Canada

Western Canada is known as a real hikers' paradise.

I have travelled through this region several times. First as a hiking enthusiast and, later, to test Authentik's Western Canada itineraries

For you hikers, here are the 5 most spectacular hikes I did in the West, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific coast.
 

#1. Plain of Six Glaciers

plain of 6 glaciers hike
Panorama on the Plain of Six Glaciers trail


:footprints: emoji Plain of Six Glaciers trail

  • Distance (round trip): 12.5 km
  • Duration: 4 to 5 hours
  • Level: Moderate
     

It's not for nothing that the Plain of Six Glaciers has become THE classic hike in Banff National Park.

This magnificent trail begins at Château Lake Louise, on the shores of the lake of the same name.

The first few kilometres are easy and follow the shoreline of Lake Louise. There are a lot of tourists on this part of the trail but the crowds quickly thin out when the trail begins to climb, at the end of the lake.

Be sure to look behind you as you climb, for breathtaking views of Lake Louise.

Towards the end of the hike, reward yourself with a cup of tea at the Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House, one of the most historic and famous buildings in the Canadian Rockies.

The Tea House also serves sandwiches, soups, salads and desserts.

tea house hike lake louise
Plain of Six glaciers Tea House

The trail continues past the tea house for another 1.5 kilometres to the Victoria Glacier lookout.

It's REALLY worth it!


#2. Wild Pacific Trail

pacific rim national park best hikes
Ocean view on Wild Pacific Trail

The Wild Pacific Trail is quite probably the most beautiful hiking trail on Vancouver Island. Located in the heart of Pacific Rim National Park, the trail is right on the ocean.

There, you will instantly understand why the park is part of our top 4 things to see on Vancouver Island.

The trail has 3 distinct sections:


:footprints: emoji Brown’s Beach to Artist Loops

  • Distance (one-way): 2.75 km
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Level: Moderate
     

Start your hike at the Brown’s Beach parking lot and walk in the direction of Artist Loops.

Along this section of the Wild Pacific Trail, you will experience the power of the Pacific Ocean as it churns against the rocky cliffs, right beneath your feet.

Photographers, don't hesitate to use the storm-watching decks and platforms. The wild vistas and wind-swept coastline are sure to be among the most spectacular photos of your trip.

Be sure to stay on the trail because the rocks can be very slippery in places.


:footprints: emoji Rocky Bluffs

  • Distance (one-way): 1.5 km
  • Duration: 20 minutes
  • Level: Easy

This section follows on naturally from Artist Loops.

One of the viewpoints you won't want to miss is Sea Lion Pool, at kilometre 8. Watch the water for seals and sea lions surfing the waves.

best hikes in western Canada
Strong waves at Sea Lion Pool viewpoint

If you're "lucky" enough to be there during a storm, Rocky Bluffs is said to be "a fantastic place for storm watching", but I have never experienced it.

If you have time on your way back, you can add the short 1-km Ancient Cedars loop. This section takes you among the giant trees of an old-growth rainforest, some of which measure more than 12 metres around their base.


:footprints: emoji Lighthouse Loop

  • Distance (loop): 2.6 km
  • Duration: 60 minutes
  • Level: Easy
     

This third section starts at the parking lot midway along Coast Guard Road, and is not connected to the previous 2 sections.

It is best to do this loop in a clockwise direction for the most spectacular views.

Keep this loop for the end of the day, because it's the best place in town to watch the sun set over the Pacific.

Enjoy this spectacle of nature from one of the viewpoints just north of Amphitrite Lighthouse.

wild pacific trail best hikes
Amphitrite Lighthouse

Two beaches can be reached from this trail.

It's the perfect spot for some relaxation or a picnic while waiting for the sun to set.

Pacific rim hiking trails map
Map of the Wild Pacific Trail

 

#3. Peyto Lake

icefield parkway hiking trails
Peyto Lake


:footprints: emoji Peyto Lake trail

  • Distance (round trip): 2.1 km
  • Duration: 45 minutes
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate
     

This hike to the Peyto Lake viewpoint is probably the trail with the best reward-for-effort in all of Western Canada.

The trailhead parking lot is accessible from the panoramic Icefields Parkway, between Banff and Jasper.

It would be a mistake to miss this must-see stop. And the photos will be among the most beautiful of your trip to Western Canada.

To avoid the crowds, try to do this hike early in the morning. It's an extremely popular spot.

 

#4. Whistler's Mountain Summit

whitlers mountain summit hiking trail
Whistler's Mountain Summit view at the top


:footprints: emoji Whistler's Mountain Summit trail

  • Distance (round trip): 2.5 km
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate
     

This unusual hike begins at an altitude of 2,263 metres because it starts when you step off the Jasper Skytram.

When you get off the Skytram, follow the hiking trails that lead across the alpine tundra to the summit of Whistler's Mountain

hiking skytram canadian rockies
Jasper Skytram

This 200-metre elevation gain will seem even more difficult because of the high altitude. You'll find that your breath is much shorter than usual.

The view from the summit will leave you speechless. Enjoy this unique moment, and take the time to contemplate your fabulous surroundings. You deserve it!

hikes in Whistler map
Whistler's Mountain Summit hikes map

 

5. Johnston Canyon

How to get to Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon trail


:footprints: emoji Johnston Canyon trail

  • Distance (one-way): 2.6 km
  • Duration: 1 hour
  • Level of difficulty: Moderate
     

Johnston Canyon is on Highway 1, between Banff and Lake Louise.

It's one of the most popular hikes in the Rocky Mountains, so expect there to be a lot of people. To avoid the crowds, try to plan this outing for early in the morning.

The trail has 2 sections: Lower Falls and Upper Falls.

If you're in a hurry, you can turn back at Lower Falls without going on to Upper Falls. Your hike will then be 1.3 km (30 minutes, one-way).

The hike to Upper Falls is a little more difficult. At 40 metres, Upper Falls is the higher of the two waterfalls.

 

You are now ready to go on hikes throughout all of your Ultimate Western Canada road trip !

If you have any questions about these hikes, or if you'd like to add your personal favourite, don't hesitate to use the comments section below.

Simon Lemay

Simon is a Quebecker passionate about his neck of the woods and eager for you to discover it... So much so that he founded Authentik Canada and Authentik USA, true experts in customized road trips across North America for families and couples.

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