Hiking Tunnel Mountain & Bow Falls

For a downloadable PDF version of this guide CLICK HERE!



Tunnel Mountain is an easy hike in the town of Banff that is very popular and accommodating to new hikers. Despite the relatively short hike to the summit, it has incredible views of the town and surrounding Mountains. After hiking Tunnel Mountain another must see is Bow Falls, right in the heart of the town of Banff.




Time Required: 0.5-1 Hours

Location: Banff, AB

Distance: Roughly 4km round trip

Highest Elevation: 1677m

Elevation Gain: 267m

Difficulty: 3/10 – Family friendly

Season: Year Round

Additional Requirements: N/A



From Calgary: Take the Trans-Canada (Hwy 1) west approximately 110km and exit into the town of Banff.  Follow Banff Ave to Fox St, take a left, then a right onto Deer St, Deer St will turn into Otter St, take a left onto Moose St, which will turn right onto Grizzly St. Take a slight left onto St. Julien Rd and continue for 350m and the Lower Tunnel Mountain Parking Lot will be on your left. This sounds confusing so just plug “Tunnel Mountain Trailhead (Lower Parking Area)” into google maps and you’ll get there no problem.



  • Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes. Make sure your shoes are broken in prior to tackling this hike to prevent unexpected blisters. You could get away with running shoes but having extra grip on the rock surfaces will definitely come in handy!
  • Water: This hike has some elevation gain to reach the summit. Be sure to bring a water bottle or two.
  • Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike or at the summit.  Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
  • Weather appropriate clothing: You will be exposed to the elements throughout this hike. Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
  • Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience.
  • Bear Spray: You are in bear country. Always hike with bear spray that is easily accessible.
  • Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
  • This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike



Wildlife: You will be hiking in bear country.  It is always advisable to check in at the local Visitor Information Center to learn of any trail closures due to wildlife.  Carry bear spray in an easily accessible location.  Travel in groups of multiple hikers and make lots of noise to avoid an unexpected encounter.

Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
  • Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
  • Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
  • Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.

To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca




Summary: The hike up tunnel mountain is straightforward and relatively easy. You can start at either the lower or upper trailhead and there is a clearly marked and easy to follow trail that will take you to the summit.


Tunnel Mountain Adventure Map - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 1: Tunnel Mountain Adventure Map


Step-By-Step Guide:

There are two places to park and start this hike from. The lower parking area, and the upper parking area. We were planning on starting at the upper parking lot (Route marker #1 on the map) but the road to it is closed during winter months so we had to park at the gate and walk down the road for a few minutes. It would have been easier to have just gone to the lower parking lot. At both the lower and upper parking area there is signage marking the trailhead.


Tunnel Mountain Upper Trailhead - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 2: The Upper Trailhead
Tunnel Mountain Hike - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 3: Tunnel Mountain Trail


This trail to the summit is extremely easy to follow and is heavily trafficked. There are a few switchbacks, some elevation gain, and a couple spots to stop and soak in the views looking both east and west. At the summit (Route marker #2 on the map) there are stunning views of the town of Banff and surrounding mountains.


Tunnel Mountain Viewpoint - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 4: Views of the Bow River along the hike
Tunnel Mountain Summit - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 5: The summit of Tunnel Mountain


After our hike up Tunnel Mountain we wandered our way across the river in town to check out Bow Falls (Route marker #3 on the map). It’s a beautiful walk along the river and the falls are stunning. Park on Glen Ave or at the YMCA and enjoy the walk to the falls from there.


Bow Falls - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 6: Bow Falls
Bow Falls - Banff - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 7: Bow Falls



Thank you for choosing Epic Trip Adventures as your guide. We are committed to continually updating our guides to be as relevant and accurate as possible. If you have feedback to improve this guide please leave it in the comments below.

We also want to hear about your Tunnel Mountain adventures. If you have stories, pictures or even a link to your own adventure video please share them below!


Have fun out there!