Trail Directions: From Banff city centre, take Banff Avenue south across the bridge and turn right onto Cave Avenue. Park in the Cave and Basin lot. Trail head is near the back of the Cave and Basin building, along the paved path from the parking lot.
Nat and I don't hike around the Banff townsite area very often. There's no real reason for this, maybe convenience, maybe that the truly challenging hikes are usually down some secondary highway, or maybe it's that fighting the weekend traffic of Banff isn't much like "getting back to nature".
Sundance Canyon had been on the radar for some time, but it wasn't until this overcast October Sunday that it seemed like the right time to go. We knew from the trailhead we'd made the right call:
History geek alert: The trail actually begins right beside the Cave and Basin site, which is the historical site of the discovery of Banff Hot Springs, which of course led to the creation of Canada's National Park system in the 1880s. The is one of the older bathhouses, long out of service:
They say it's the overcast days that give you the best colours in photos. No arguments here. The water really was that colour:
While there's certainly not the famous New England type fall foliage in the Alberta Rockies, the sight of the yellow scattered among the evergreens is striking.
There's only a brief window the trees at such an altitude turn bright yellow. Even more amazing to see it under that layer of white snow.
Rockies in the fall:
The entrance to Sundance Canyon:
Some colour on the canyon walls:
Our ultimate destination. The trail leads straight up the side of the canyon, but it's not as much of a climb as it looks, especially when the trail is cool and dry...
Part of the falls from the bridge:
Looking back toward the valley from the bridge:
From a viewpoint further up the trail, with the yellow leaves scattered throughout the valley.
Fall colours are so brief in the Rockies, while winter seems to linger for months on end, so we were glad to be able to spend a fall day in the mountains, knowing winter was around the corner.