Despite being to Banff hundreds of times, I had never heard of Stewart Canyon.
This is in part due to my hiking snobbiness. I tend to turn up my nose at “easy hikes” preferring off-trail scrambles where I’m using both my hands and feet to claw my way up a mountain for hours on end. But on this day I was close to bed-ridden with a bad cough and cold. OK I should have been bed ridden, and believe me Brewster’s Mountain Lodge is the place you want to be if you’re stuck in bed. But I was in Banff. There was no way I could be in Banff and not get out for a hike…even if it was only an easy one.
Despite the lack of elevation, I still coughed the entire way, but was glad to be out. The trail for Stewart Canyon starts at the Lake Minnewanka Day Use Area. The hike is officially 1.5km each way, but that just takes you to the start of the canyon where Cascade River flows into Lake Minnewanka. We hiked further along the ice-filled canyon, catching the occasional glimpse of running glacier blue water. The extension is worth it as the canyon is beautiful. On the return trip hikers are treated to views of Cascade Mountain looming over Lake Minnewanka – and yes I have scrambled Cascade :).
Despite being an easy hike, I enjoyed hiking Stewart Canyon . Perhaps I even (gasp) lost a bit of my hiking snobbiness as I was reminded that in Banff you can get amazing views for very minimal effort.
Know Before You Hike Stewart Canyon in Banff:
- We hiked in winter and saw only one other couple, but as the trail head starts from a popular area, I imagine it would be quite busy in summer months.
- The trail to Stewart Canyon is well-marked, making it a good choice for beginner hikers.
- Elevation is minimal. The trail is officially 1.5km long, but I recommend extending it by a kilometre or two into the canyon.
- You can find info about Stewart Canyon and more hikes in Banff on Parks Canada’s website.
- Visit Banff and Lake Louise Tourism for more information about Banff.
- I also recommend staying at Brewster’s Mountain Lodge located in the heart of Banff.
- I also recommend hiking Sunshine Meadows which offers a wide variety of hiking options ranging from easy with minimal elevation to multi-day hikes.