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Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades

Banff + Yoho, Alberta

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Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades

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  • Unpacking the car at the trailhead.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • It's an easy pull-off to miss. If you get to the Crowsfoot Lookout Sign, you have gone just a bit too far. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The tape directly west of the pull-off is a disused trail. It peters out in bog pretty quickly, but the bog opens up and the views are lovely. If you don't mind wet feet, it's not so bad. 

Alternatively you can walk south down the highway to three orange- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • You get super views from the meadow as you walk beside Bow Lake. Bow is fed by the Wapta Icefield and the Bow Glacier. The river it feeds gives its name to the Bow Valley. The river flows south and then east heading through Calgary.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The final bulge of Bow Lake with the Crowfoot Glades and Glacier in the distance. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The Lake is glacial fed, but it is warmer then you'd expect. Keep to the shore, and the trail will reappear. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The end of the lake is where the Bow River begins. This requires a river crossing. At it's deepest the water is about 80 centimeters deep in August. It can vary depending on rain, heat, and snowmelt. Trekking poles are strongly recommended.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • A good comfort strategy is to bring extra socks or a pack towel to dry your feet. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • From here the trail is gentle singletrack through the woods. It's a less travelled trail thanks to the river crossing, so expect the odd bush in the face. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Just down the trail you will get a superb view of the Bow picking up speed. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The trail gets steeper. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Beyond this the trees are spaced well apart. Even in summer the appeal of this place as a ski touring destination is obvious. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Bridges to cross.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Beyond this the trees are spaced well apart. Even in summer the appeal of this place as a ski touring destination is obvious. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Up into the alpine toward Bow Peak.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Breaking tree line the route starts to come into view. To the left Bow Peak looks imposing, but head for the col ahead to access the gentler incline of the west face. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • There is plenty of wildlife here. Grouse, pika and marmots hang about. They seem friendly, though they may be over fed by well intentioned hikers. Sadly this makes them less likely to survive winter as high glucose foods won't last the winter.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Behold, the west face. There are two options to ascend. The more common route is up the gulley on the right-hand side. If you walk off the path across the meadow, you arrive at the talus field. Follow it down until to you spot a series of cairns.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Looking back toward the highway. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The route starts gently before rapidly slowing down into a talus slog with the occasional bursts of scree. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Talus hiking.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • As you gain altitude you begin to get a look onto the Wapta Icefield. Balfour, Lillaput, and even Trolltinder mountain are visible. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The ridge is a wonderful spot. It's quite wide by rocky standards and makes for an excellent rest stop. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Beyond the summit appears fairly close, though there is still a decent chunk of climbing to go. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • There are plenty of good spots to scramble up rocks, but nearly all of them can be circumvented to the west with ease. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • It's mostly just lots of lovely walking. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • More steep steps and gorgeous views. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Looking to the east, you can see down the precipitous face. This is actually looking down the Grand Daddy Couloir, a choice route for ascending and skiing in winter. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The summit draws near. Just a few more stones to hop. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The summit is well marked.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • To start the descent, head back about 200 meters to the gulley.- Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The wide gulley is a favorite ascent route, but it is also by the far the more pleasant descent route. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • The terrain makes for superb scree running. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • Here is the start of the route, and also where the talus section ends. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
  • There are several ways to approach this peak in winter as well. This is looking up the Grand Daddy Couloir. - Bow Peak via Crowfoot Glades
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Incredible views. Great introduction to scrambling. Lovely alpine meadows. Good ridge walk.
Cons: 
Scree bash. Trailhead is hard to find. Mandatory river crossing.
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Region:
Banff + Yoho, AL
Congestion: 
Low
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Highest point: 
2,840.00 m (9,317.59 ft)
Year round: 
Yes
Parking Pass: 
National or state forest pass
Permit required: 
No
Preferable Season(s):
Summer, Winter
Total Distance: 
14.86 km (9.23 mi)
Total elevation gain: 
1,180.00 m (3,871.39 ft)
Trail type: 
There-and-back
Trailhead Elevation: 
1,960.00 m (6,430.45 ft)
Typically multi-day: 
No
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Bow Peak is lovely hike with some mediocre talus and scree bashing that gains a superb summit. For those breaking into scrambling, this is a great example of a hard hike/easy scramble and a superb place to start. There isn't too much exposure, and routefinding pretty much leads to the same place with no hazards in good weather. To get there, follow the 93 North highway up toward Jasper. Just past the Helen Lake turnoff, keep your eyes peeled on the south-southwest side of the highway (left if you're heading north) for orange tape. About 200 meters ahead of the green Crowfoot Lookout sign there is a small turnoff. 

The trailhead is well hidden and barely marked. There are two trailheads. The first is easy to spot and begins obviously enough, but the trail quickly disappears into marshland about 300 meters down the trail. You can just walk through the spongy open country until you get to the lake, but there is a higher risk of running into moose and bears. Also, these are fragile environments, and you should use the trails at all times. The proper trail is a 200-meter walk south of the turn off. Two orange markers and a iron bar mark the trailhead. It's a faster and much better option. 

There is a river crossing 30 to 45 minutes into the hike. Be prepared. Trekking poles and appropriate footwear are highly recommended. The current can be strong (a gentle push). The rocks aren't especially sharp or slippery, so crossing with bare feet is possible. Be warned that the river will carry you some ways if you fall. Dry bags, extra socks, a change of clothes, and a towel are all good considerations. 

This is a big day in the alpine, so carrying the usual 10 Essentials is recommended. Also, be wary of thunderstorms. In the Rockies they can move in very fast in the afternoon, and the upper section of this route is extremely exposed. Remember that no forecasts will warn of these, so look out for tall dark clouds. 

Winter ascent

In the right conditons, this can be a great peak for winter ascents. The Grand Daddy Couloir is a popular choice for those looking for steep turns. However, for those not able to ski the steeps, the backside is a good mountaineering objective. 

You will need light tourings skis or snowshoes to get up to the higher valley. Once there, you can follow the wind-blown slopes upward wearing crampons. Often the wind ravages the slopes, making it easy to avoid the avalanche-prone troughs by staying on the rocky outcroppings. However, this assesment is subject to change, and an Avalanche Safety Training 2 course is highly recommended.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(1 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(15 within a 30 mile radius)

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