Alberta, The Best Kept Secret in Hiking Vacations
A nature walk is serene by all means. But it’s the one-of-a-kind view and even better accommodations that make Alberta the best kept secret in hiking vacations. Known as the castles in the mountains, The Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise are two iconic hotels where you’ll find something for everyone of every taste — from tranquil relaxation to exhilarating adventure. Locally, the land really lends itself for hiking to be Alberta’s No. 1 activity — the abundance of interpretive trails, wildlife, scenery and parklands speaks for itself.
From easy, leisurely strolls to day-long challenging peaks, the local and award winning naturalists at The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise’s Mountain Heritage Guide Program can customize the perfect adventure for your skill level with travel packages starting at $395 (CDN). A version of this program started when the original hotel was built in 1890, and professional mountain guides from Switzerland were hired to teach Canadians and tourists alike how to mountain climb. The current reincarnate of the program was revived in 1997, serving the Banff National Park area with half day, full day, and multi-day trip options.
One of the most hiked trails comes as a half day trip through Lake Agnes that includes a sweet ending at the Lake Agnes Teahouse. This trip to the century-old mountain tea house that started in 1904 is so popular because it offers stunning views of the beloved, glacier-fed Lake Louise. The trip is about four-hours and 4.5 miles at moderate difficulty. Further upward, you’ll also hit Mirror Lake under the cliffs of the Big Beehive. More challenging options include day- or days-long hikes into the alpine of Alberta. A sure hit though, is the easy shore-line walks by the famed Lake Louise. This is where ground squirrels and marmots’ sightings are common, and even mountain goats on the sheer cliffs of Mt. Fairview are regularly seen. The Old Quarry Loop trail is another short and easy, but scenic hike that serves as a great photo opportunity.
Once you are ready for relaxation, stay at either Banff Springs of Chateau Lake Louise. Here, you will be greeted each morning with the once-in-a-lifetime view of a sunrise over the majestic Victoria Glacier. These ultimate playground retreats also allow for other Rocky Mountain exploring, including canoeing on the majestic lakes and rivers. Indoor adventures are aplenty too, including dining on the exquisite regional cuisine.
At Banff Springs, be sure to visit for a fine wine tasting (with indulgent fondue and sweets too) at the authentically local Canadian Wine Store. Banff Springs’ truly world-class Willow Stream Spa is also a must-see sanctuary with pure mineral pools to intoxicate, strengthen and revitalize your body and mind. The serenity of the spa surrounded by mountain vistas, ancient glaciers and emerald waters is a guarantee to restore balance and energy. The regal Chateau Lake Louise is also perhaps the most famously luxurious ski resort in all of Canada, a treat that royalty and Hollywood icons alike have enjoyed.