50 Walks and Hikes in Banff National Park: Tunnel Mountain
By : Brian Patton and Bart Robinson1st edition
6.5 x 4.5 inches
- Tunnel Mountain
- Sulphur Mountain
- Johnston Canyon
- Sunshine Meadows
- Bourgeau Lake
- Lake Louise Shoreline
- Lake Agnes
- Larch Valley
- Parker Ridge
Tunnel Mountain Trail
LENGTH: 2.3 km (1.4 mi) one way
ELEVATION GAIN: 240 m (790 ft)
WALKING TIME: 40 minutes one way
STARTING POINT: Banff Centre overflow parking lot, along St. Julien Rd. uphill from Wolf St.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME: An early plan had the Canadian Pacific Railway blasting a tunnel through this mountain
The trail to the summit of Tunnel Mountain is one of the park’s oldest—a popular outing for Banff residents and visitors for over a century. The low summit, 300 metres (980 feet) above the town, offers wonderful views of the Banff environs, including the Fairmont Banff Springs and the Bow Valley. The trail’s broad track and well-graded switchbacks are worthy of royalty (it was rebuilt in 1939 so King George VI could climb the mountain during his cross-Canada tour with Queen Elizabeth).
Looking down the Bow Valley from the summit of Tunnel Mountain.
The first 400 metres (0.2 miles) of trail climbs through forest from St. Julien Road to Tunnel Mountain Road, where a small parking area serves as an alternate trailhead (drive here if you want to shorten the hike). After crossing Tunnel Mountain Road, the trail switchbacks upwards through dense stands of lodgepole pine and Douglas fir with occasional openings overlooking the town and valley. When you reach the summit ridge, 1.9 kilometres (1.2 miles) from the trailhead, views extend across the Bow River to the Fairmont Banff Springs. At this point, the trail turns north to skirt along the edge of a sheer cliff (fenced for your safety), and views open eastward to the Banff Springs Golf Course and across the Bow River to the massive cliffs of Mount Rundle. One last, short climb brings you to the sparsely forested 1,690-metre (5,540-foot) summit, where a fire tower once stood. Limestone outcrops just west of the summit overlook the town of Banff, with views extending to Vermilion Lakes and down the Bow Valley to the Massive Range. This is a good place to appreciate the mountain’s geological history—while surrounding mountains such as Mt. Rundle and Cascade escaped the effects of glaciation during the last ice age, the lower summit of Tunnel Mountain was smoothed by glaciers.
This text is from 50 Walks and Hikes in Banff National Park.