First Backcountry Hike of the season!

12:00 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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i'm looking for some suggestions for a moderate, 2day, 1 night hike to a backcountry campground. Any suggestions??? We'll be starting our drive from Calgary.

2:54 p.m. on June 11, 2013 (EDT)
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this is primarily an American site -but we do have some Canadians. perhaps peter 1955 can chime in. he guides hikes all the time up there. 

9:00 a.m. on June 13, 2013 (EDT)
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Hard to suggest something without knowing your levels of strength and experience. I would be remiss if I suggested a trail that was too hard and you got hurt as a result. 

I'd suggest you start here:

http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/banff/activ/randonee-backpacking/activ17.aspx

That's the government site. The town of Banff sucks - nothing but a highly commercialized tourist trap run by big foreign corporations (think Disneyland) - but there are good campsites that are accessible with only a drive of an hour or two to the trailhead.

Note however that if you want to camp overnight you will have to get a backcountry camping permit (stop at the visitor centre in town) which will limit the trails you'll be able to do. Random camping is prohibited. 

For an easy and rewarding overnighter, I'd suggest Glacier Lake (9 km each way with only 250 metres of elevation gain), or Sunset Pass (7 km with 750 metres of elevation gain). Both are at the northern boundary of the Park, and you may get a booking. 

You could also try Kananaskis, a provincially-run area between Calgary and Banff. That website is here:

http://www.albertaparks.ca/kananaskis-country/information-facilities/

There are a number of backcountry sites, and some quite pretty trails, but I believe that only two locations allow random camping. 

But here's the problem:

Many campsites, whether front or backcountry, will already be booked. Even in Kananaskis, you'd have to scramble to find anything that's open, and because both are less than an hour's drive from Calgary, you'll find many of the trails will be packed with people on the weekends. Go mid-week and you might be okay.

Suggestion: If you can, get well away from Banff. Take the drive up the Icefields Parkway and don't stop until you get to Jasper. 

October 22, 2014
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