Bow Glacier Falls Trail, Banff National Park, Alberta Canada Visitor's Guide

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

Bow Glacier Falls is located within the park boundaries of Banff National Park in Alberta Canada and provides one of the most stunning hikes and vistas available.

The trail head starts off at a very busy viewpoint and parking lot along the Icefield's Parkway at Bow Lake and the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge.

This stunning, clear blue lake is surrounded by tall, snow covered icy peaks and provides a hint of adventure that is to come by hiking the Bow Glacier Falls Trail.

The entire trail is about 10 km in and out to the falls, and it usually takes about 2 to 3 hours for most hikers due to the amount of pauses for pictures and viewing. The trail follows the outer edge of Bow Lake and slowly narrows down. As the trail turns more rugged, most visitors stop here and turn back.

Just like Lake Louise and other beautiful destinations in Alberta, the typical tourist snaps some photos and continues on their way not knowing that just beyond and around the next corner are amazing sites and destinations like no other.

Hiking the trail further takes you into an alpine forest along the edge of the lake, but soon it almost disapears due to erosion. The water system and river feeding this lake sometimes spills over and hides the trail. Simply follow the trail along the lake (you may get your feet wet) and find the trail head once again.

As you reach the edge of the lake you will notice a staircase ahead the helps hikers traverse over a massive rock ridge. On one side of this is a deep canyon with a rushing river. Using a rock bridge where several boulders have wedged in the canyon we can opt to take another trail to a look out point.

Instead, take the stairway up to the ridge. At the very top the stairway ends and you are witness to a massive rock valley with mountainous peaks all around. The trail leads down sharply turning with switchbacks until you reach the rocky valley floor. The trail is easily visible as is the massive waterfall which is the destination.

The trail leads right to the waterfall with a rushing white-water river on your left and ground covered in wildflowers on the right. The waterfall itself is higher than Niagara Falls and plunges massive amounts of water along the rocky edge of the valley. Here you can start your climb toward different parts of the waterfall keeping in mind that the rocks may be extremely slippery.

Ascend all the way to the very limits, dip you head in the glacier water and take a sip. It is absolute pure water and extremely refreshing after the long hike. Sit and observe Pikas and various birds who make this area their home.

The glacial moraine is also home to bears, mountain lions and other big game. Please keep an eye on your children and always keep you dog on a leash.

After taking in this glorious spectacle the hike back is also full of rests to take photos and observe the sheer magnitude of the Canadian Rockies. If you take this hike in the evening and return at night you will be guided by a million stars all shining down. The milky way is easily seen in this dark sky area.

This post is made in remembrance of a friend, Elvis Podvorac, who after hiking to the waterfall exclaimed: "This is the best hike I have ever been on."


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