For those looking to get an accessible experience of what northern Banff has to offer, the Icefields Parkway is a treasure that you’ll want to make some time for, especially if you’re on limited time or on your way north to Jasper. Completed in 1940, the Icefields Parkway links Lake Louise and Jasper along an incredibly scenic stretch of road paralleling the Continental Divide. It was named for the many ice fields and glaciers visible from the road. Many trails and campgrounds dot the length of the parkway, and a great example of a day hike that exemplifies the Icefields Parkway is the trek to Dolomite Pass.
At just under 9 miles, Dolomite Pass offers hikers an accessible way to see expansive views of the valley filled with huge alpine lakes, old-growth forest, fields full of wildflowers, wildlife, and a rugged moonscape. Start the hike near Bow Lake with views of Bow and Crawfoot Glaciers across the valley. Climb up through forest and round the corner to see the full view of Cirque Peak and Dolomite Pass in the distance.
You’ll make your way up past Dolomite Mountain and a dozen small waterfalls in the distance before you reach Helen Lake. This makes a great rest stop, but press on to Dolomite Pass before eating lunch because you will want to take your time and soak in the views from both sides. If you have the legs for it and the weather looks good, there is the option to continue up to Cirque Peak. Some basic route finding is all that’s needed to scramble to the summit. Return the way you came and enjoy one of the most scenic drives home you’ll ever have.