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Review of Banff’s Parker Ridge Trail

by K Gordon Schultz

The Parker Ridge Trail in Banff, Alberta

As fit as I like to claim myself to be, there is just no way I can do every hike in Banff within a year. Even Steven Seagal in his many peak years would struggle. Sure, if I have to review a five star hotel in Canmore or divulge myself in some beauty therapy in Lake Louise for the love of writing, I can manage it. Sometimes, however everybody needs a helping hand. This month, two of our friendly readers sent us their opinion on The Parker Ridge Trail in Banff, one of the most popular and what sort of Park Ranger would I be if I didn’t share these thoughts with you!

Steve Hanley, New York.

My brother and I visited Banff & Jasper last summer. We go hiking in different places every year and the hike along the Parker Ridge Trail is rated among my Top 3 must do hikes.

It is not too strenuous. In fact, we attempted it as an after dinner hike, after visiting the Columbia Icefield. It took us only an hour for the round trip. The trail is quite steep and immediately dips you into the sub-alpine range. The natural vegetation including shrubs and flowers is so colorful and vast and the fir trees were blowing calmly in the wind. On either side of the ridge, you can see two glacial flows. There are fairly severe switchbacks but nothing we couldn’t handle.

The higher you go up, the better the views get and the less you think about what you are putting your body through! The scenery of the jagged ice steeped Jasper mountain range is something that my brother and I could not take our eyes from. I only wish we went earlier in the day so we didn’t have to beat the darkness. On reaching the top, stay on the left of the rock marker and take the flat trail ahead instead of climbing higher. You will come across the spectacular Saskatchewan glacier. For pure solitude and incomparable vistas, there is nothing better than this hike.

Andrew Johns, Sydney

I did the Parker Ridge trail with my wife on what I thought was a warm day in September. The walk to the ridge was really pleasant although the altitude eventually took its toll and towards the ridge we both found our inexperienced legs were complaining. Once on the ridge the “summit” was soon reached and I’m sure everyone has heard it a thousand times but Wow! The views are simply fantastic.

We brought a picnic with us so we had a snack up at the top so we could take in the views for longer. It was here when we had settled for a while that we realized the warmth that we felt in the car park had been replaced by a much cooler chilly breeze that forced us to move on again.

As soon as we started back down the hill, the blood was warmed and we could happily admire our surroundings again. The legs were also pleased with the downhill change!

I would highly recommend this walk but you do need to be reasonably fit & have suitable clothing for the summit ridge to enable you to linger and soak in the fantastic views. I imagine that even in peak summer, this could be chilly.

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