Added by Janet Maclean
This is an iconic mountain adjacent from the town of Banff in Banff National Park. The summit overlooks the town site, Lake Minnewanka and provides a 360 degree view of the surrounding Rocky Mountains.
From Banff, follow the Norquay Road (the west access road to Banff) up to Mt. Norquay Ski Area. The trail begins from the day lodge at the far end of the first parking lot on the right.
Walk by the front of the day lodge and follow a service road down through the ski area past the base of three chairlifts. A few metres beyond the Mystic Chair pick up the trail heading downhill to Forty Mile Creek.
At the creek, turn right at the junction and follow the Elk Lake trail for another 2.5 km to a sign for Cascade Amphitheater where the trail branches right. This forested trail climbs steadily up a series of steep switchbacks.
You will come to a fork in the trail, if you keep going straight you will go to the cascade amphitheater, take the trial to your right for the cascade summit. The trail to the right is marked with a yellow flag tape. You will follow the trail to the end of the tree line.
From the last trees, continue along the ridge up and over the First Peak. There is a footpath to the right of the trees, but remain on the ridge—the footing is better and, despite appearances, it is easier. This is also the best route for the descent.
Look towards the False Summit. Careful route-finding starts here! Follow the cairns and blue or yellow flag tape. Make your way towards the false summit but do not go up the trail on the false summit, there is a distinct trail to the right that leads you horizontally around the false summit. This trail will lead you all the way to the real summit.
You will hike up through loose scree and will need your hands from time to time for balance.
Make note (look back) along the ascent to help you find the trail for the descent, it is very easy to take a more difficult route down then necessary. There are orange squares spray painted on some rocks to help you stick to the trail on your descent.
Bring something warm to wear at the top of the mountain. If you are an intermediate hiker with strong cardio you will be fine on this hike. If not, plan to take lots of little breaks. This is a strenuous hike and will take around 9 hours.
- 2-3 litres of water
- Snacks plus lunch
- Long sleeves as it is cold at the top.
- Sturdy hiking boots
- Head lamp in case you are delayed coming down the mountain
- First aid kit
Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.
Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More
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