Banff National Park, Alberta
This is not the best time of the season to be taking walks and hikes around Banff. Though there are no bears around, the temperatures are lower than a hyenas self esteem and the path slippier than a politician. Awful similes aside, it is just too hard to pass up the opportunity for a walk when the nature that surrounds you is so vibrant and beautiful. Ideally throw some spiked shoes on, bring a good map of Banff and a cell phone just in case. Take your pick from the hikes of Banff. Yesterday I donned my warmest thermals and conquered the beautiful Stewart Canyon.
Make no mistake about it, this is an easy trail. The round trip should take no longer than 2 hours and at this time of year, it is perfect because there aren’t many slopes. The trail starts from the recreational area by Minnewanka Lake. During the summer, you can have a picnic and sit down on the benches. If you were to attempt that now, the only thing you could eat would be frozenness and that’s not even a real word. From here, the track passes onto a wooded dirt track showing great views of a frozen lake that is usually a gorgeous turquoise colour. Eventually the trail gets a bit rockier and heads over a bridge on the Cascade River, reaching a fork on the far side. The route to the right leads down into a river gully where usually you can hop around the boulders like a schoolboy but probably not recommended while icy.
The canyon itself is named after George Stewart, the first superintendent of Canada’s first national park. Returning is as easy as following your footsteps in the snow and getting back to the warmth of your car at Minnewanka car park. As I said, it is hard to turn down the nature of Banff at any time of year. Well it is equally hard to turn down a warm whiskey after a walk like this one in one of Banff’s fine drinking establishments!