Distance: 9.2 kilometers, round trip. Allow 1.5 hours to reach the falls.
Access: Follow the Icefields Parkway north from Lake Louise to the Num-ti Jah Lodge access road at Bow Lake. The trail head kiosk is at the west end of the parking lot.
Tips: There is a brief climb up a staircase that may hinder those with weak knees or little children. The stairs are deeply set and uneven. The best time to see the falls is during warm weather in the summer.
Bow Glacier Falls is one of those hikes that I put off for a long time. The number of times I’ve driven past it was inexcusable so I finally decided it was time. This is probably one of the simplest, most accessible day hikes on the Parkway so the amount of traffic on the trail is usually high. Don’t let that deter you though; it is worth it to just once, put up with hikers of all kinds.
The trail is very picturesque as it skirts around the lake, through alluvial flats, and up and over the canyon rim (staircase). The falls are visible once you’ve reached the top of the rim. Another kilometer or so will bring you right up to the bottom of the headwall. On a hot day, the waters are cold and refreshing. It’s a great place to explore a little before retracing your steps back to the parking lot.
The first half of the trail is also the way to Bow Hut, an easy 4-6 hike that leads to one of the best ACC huts in Banff. From the hut there is plenty of ski-mountaineering opportunities and of course, other routes that lead to Peyto Hut.