Tunnel Mountain Hike (Banff, AB)
Our weather luck in Banff National Park wasn’t the best. We really wanted to get out and hike something in the area, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. A full two days were completely rained out. Then, on our last day, the rain cleared out and opened up to bright blue skies and sunshine around 4pm. It took us (and half of the city of Banff, apparently) about 10 minutes to get ready and get to Tunnel Mountain for a hike to the top.
An interesting factoid about the name of the mountain: the CPR Railroad was initially going to build a tunnel through the small mountain. Eventually a bypass was found that saved CPR millions of dollars in construction and shortened the route, but the name Tunnel Mountain stuck.
Nearest City/Town: Banff, AB
Length: ~2-3 miles
Elevation: ~300 ft
Time: 1-1.5 hours
Tunnel Mountain Hike
There is one trail to the top of Tunnel Mountain. You can start at one of two points though. On Tunnel Mountain Dr, there is a parking area that cuts off about a half-mile of hiking. Or you can start lower on St. Julien Rd. At the time we went, we only knew about the parking area on Tunnel Mountain Rd, so we started there.
The trail is wide and very well maintained. It’s also very heavily used. We passed and were passed by several groups of people, including runners. The beginning of the trail is the steepest portion, with stairs and switchbacks to ease the elevation gain. After that, it’s a relatively flat trail to the top. Overall, it’s only a few hundred feet of elevation gain to get to the top.
While the top of the mountain is only 5500 feet high, the views of the surrounding valley are incredible. You’ll see Banff Springs Hotel, Mt. Rundle, the entire village of Banff, and a good portion of Bow Valley. It’s well worth the climb and is a great, short afternoon hike for nearly anyone.
You can get to this trail quite easily. Either go to St. Julien Rd or Tunnel Mountain Dr and look for the trailhead. Banff isn’t that big and everyone seems to know about this hike, so you can just ask around.
Like we said, the views from the top were incredible and we were lucky enough to have beautiful skies.