Banff National Park, on a usual summer day, has many areas that are quite busy — even crowded. I’m thinking particularly of Lake Louise and the Banff townsite, places I avoid until the off season. But there are lots of places in Banff National Park where you can go to enjoy spectacular mountain scenery, have a nice hike and nature experience, and see almost no people.
The Lake Annette trek is one of these spots. My oldest nephew and I did this hike a few years back and I don’t think we encountered more than 10 people in a half days’ worth of hiking.
The hike starts at the Paradise Creek parking lot, not far from Lake Louise. A well defined path works its way uphill through beautiful Paradise Valley, along Paradise Creek and crossing the creek several times as you ascend. On a clear day you can see some of the nicest mountain scenery anywhere and while our day was cloudy, we did get to see some lovely views.
The journey to Lake Annette covers 5.7 km over 232 m of elevation gain. Your first glimpse of the lake, with its turquoise water and majestic Mount Temple rising behind it, is memorable. This was our destination for the day, and where we stopped along the shore for lunch and to enjoy the views.
If you feel ambitious the trail continues further uphill towards Giant Steps and a waterfall. Otherwise, you return from Lake Annette back the way you came. It was a pleasant afternoon’s hike.
The wildflowers were nicely in bloom, always pleasant to see when walking in the mountains.
This area is a prime spot for grizzly bear encounters, especially mothers and cubs, and there are often hiking restrictions due to bear sitings. If bear restrictions are in place, Parks Canada will only let groups of four or more people (staying close together) hike into the area as bears have never attacked a group of four or more. As always when venturing into this wilderness, be sure to carry bear spray with you.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge photos)