Home Destinations Tunnel Mountain, Banff – Hike to The Top of a Mountain From Town!

Tunnel Mountain, Banff – Hike to The Top of a Mountain From Town!

by Karen Ung
Tunnel Mountain is one of the best spring hikes in Banff as its south facing exposure ensures early snow melt. Whether your kids are 3 or 13, they will enjoy the scenic switchbacks to the summit. The trail starts out in the forest, but the trees become sparser towards the top, with several windows and viewpoints affording stunning views of Banff, Mount Rundle, and the Bow Valley. We were pleasantly surprised at how beautiful this short, urban hike was and loved being able to hike to the top of a mountain from town! Big POG (5 years old) and Little POG (4 years old) said the hike “wasn’t hard at all and was so pretty!”

Starting out
Snack time
A good reminder not to shortcut and hurt plants!
Less tree cover now
Big POG posing by a gnarly tree
Looking north towards the hoodoos
Looking south over Banff
Tunnel Mountain Summit Marker
Tunnel Mountain Summit
If the summit isn’t enough motivation, seek out the two geocaches Parks Canada placed on the mountain. A fact sheet in the “Where’s the Tunnel” geocache explains why there is no tunnel and how the mountain got its name. Be sure to bring some small treasures for trading!

We found the Tunnel Mountain Summit Geocache!

The red chairs at the top make a fun photo spot. Some tourists try to match their outfits to the chairs, but we were just happy to have a seat and snack!

The Iconic Red Chairs
Taking in the View

Insider Tips: Pack a picnic as you will want to stay a while and enjoy the view from the summit. Lots of water and treats are also a must. Bear spray is highly recommended, but making lots of noise and hiking in a group is the best bear safety policy!

Descending Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain At a Glance

Distance: 4.6 km round trip from St. Julien Parking lot / 3.6 km round trip from upper parking lot (or 6.3 km round trip from Banff Avenue McDonald’s)

Elevation Gain: 300 m (948 feet)

Time: Allow 2.5-3.5 hours with young children.

Tunnel Mountain Trail Map

Trailhead: At the parking lot near Wolverine Street and St. Julien Road (see marker on Google map below). To make the hike 1 km shorter, you could park on Tunnel Road where the trail intersects, but there are only a few spots there.

Tunnel Mountain Trailhead and Parking

Geocaches: “Where’s the Tunnel” and “Tunnel Mountain Summit”. Both were near the trail and easy to find!

Bike/stroller friendly? No. The trail is for hiking only and is a bit too narrow and steep for sports strollers in certain sections, so bring a baby backpack for children that need to be carried.

Washrooms: No. The closest washrooms are at the Banff Centre.

Fun Fact: Tunnel Mountain used to be called Sleeping Buffalo Mountain.

What is your favorite shoulder season hike?

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Sj May 17, 2018 - 4:55 AM

Thanks very much for providing such an elaborate hiking experience especially keeping kids in mind. The photographs provided gives so much clarity on what to expect. Will definitely go here with my toddler.

Playoutsidegal May 21, 2018 - 5:17 AM

You're welcome! I'm glad you found it helpful! 🙂 Hope you have lots of fun at Tunnel Mountain with your little one!

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