Arrive in Calgary, Alberta, Canada by 4:00 p.m. and take a hotel complimentary shuttle from the airport to our lodging. We meet in the hotel lobby that evening for a group dinner and orientation with your guide and fellow travelers. Dinner included.
We drive to the heart of Canada's hiking capital and set up our camp for the next five nights at the Lake Louise (5,052') campground. Then we head north along the scenic Icefields Parkway, one of the world's most scenic mountain roads, to the legendary Num-Ti-Jah Lodge built by mountain man Jimmy Simpson in the heart of the Rockies. After a visit to the historic lodge, we may hike to Bow Glacier Falls, a lovely hike along the shores of sparkling Bow Lake to the impressive 500' falls or to Sherbrooke Lake with views across Kicking Horse Canyon to Cathedral Crags. Upon our return to camp, everyone pitches in to assist the guides in preparing a delicious campfire dinner. All meals included.
Hiking: 4-5 miles; Elevation gain: 300-500'.
At turquoise Moraine Lake, we take in the famed view of the Valley of Ten Peaks (each peak over 10,000'). From here, we hike through Larch Valley, its meadowlands filled with dense stands of alpine larch and panoramic views over the Valley of the Ten Peaks. Continuing on to lovely Eiffel Lake, the towering Rocky Mountains surround us. Alternately, we may hike the Helen Lake Trail through some of the most beautiful alpine meadows in all of Banff Park. All meals included.
Hiking: 7-11 miles; Elevation gain: 1,300-1,800'.
After a hearty breakfast, we spend the morning hiking or wildlife watching depending on the inclination of the group. A favorite option is a hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House above Lake Louise; the trail begins in an old-growth forest of spruce and fir before leading to an open view of the magical blue of glacier-fed Lake Louise and the surrounding peaks. Once at the tea house we enjoy the vistas with the option to refuel on over 100 varieties of loose leaf tea and freshly baked goods. In the afternoon a bus ride takes us through Yoho National Park into British Columbia for rock-and-roll rafting on the Kicking Horse River. This exhilarating trip allows us to raft the best section of the frolicking class III-IV whitewater rapids. We return to camp for dinner. All meals included.
Hiking: Options to 7 miles; Elevation gain: to 1,300'; Terrain: Moderate. Rafting: 3 hours.
We hike in Jasper National Park today. The first stop is to view Peyto Lake from a platform hanging on a cliff high above. Depending upon the time of year, the hue of the lake runs from dark blue to opaque turquoise to gorgeous jade green. The road then takes us onto the Columbia Icefield, the geo-hydrographic center of North America. Meltwaters from the Icefield and its glacial tongues feed 3 different oceans. We walk up to the toe of the Athabasca Glacier. Everything you've ever wanted to know about glaciers – this is the place to learn! Then we continue hiking up to either Parker Ridge for a spectacular view of the Saskatchewan Glacier from above or, for a true wilderness experience, a hike up to Wilcox Pass. Breakfast and lunch included. Dinner on your own in the Lake Louise area.
Hiking: Parker Ridge 5 miles; Elevation gain: 1000'; Wilcox Pass 5 miles; Elevation gain: 1,200'.
We cross the Continental Divide at Kicking Horse Pass into Yoho Park and take a short hike to Takakkaw Falls (1,000'), the highest waterfall in the Canadian Rockies. From here we continue along the gorgeous Iceline Trail toward Emerald Glacier—this trail is amazing each step of the way. After our hike, we head to beautiful Emerald Lake, a true Rocky Mountain gem surrounded by the majestic peaks of the President Range and Burgess Shale. Relax on the shore or enjoy a peaceful paddle on the lake by canoe, keeping an eye out for loons and bald eagles. An alternate hike is through Paradise Valley. All meals included.
Hiking: 5-8 miles; Elevation gain: 1,300-2,000'; Canoeing is flatwater and easy.
After breaking camp we head south into Kootenay National Park for a hike to Stanley Glacier. The trail encompasses a myriad of nature's work: remnants of a forest fire, a hanging valley, and a prominent landscape of peaks including Stanley Peak (10,348'), Storm Mountain (10,371'), Mt. Whymper (9,334') and Boom Mountain (9,055'). At the end of the maintained trail we are rewarded with an overlook of the spectacular bowl with caves in the sheer cliffs of Stanley Peak and the hanging Stanley Glacier in the distance. These stunning views are a worthy finish to a great week of hiking! We will stop briefly in Banff before continuing to Calgary to check in to our hotel and say our farewells. Breakfast and lunch included, dinner on your own.
Hiking: 5 miles; Elevation gain/loss 1,200'; Terrain: easy to moderate.
Flights from Calgary can be booked for any time today. A complimentary hotel shuttle bus will take you to the Calgary airport. Breakfast at the hotel included.