On July 16, 2022, I hiked in a trio up to Bow Glacier Falls from Bow Lake. This hike is approximately 9 km with 298 metres of elevation and took us a leisurely 4 hours. I would rate the hike as an easy moderate hike due to the length and the one steep section. This section has built in stairs (pictured below), and as long as you can make it up those, you can make it to the falls.
We started our hike at 11 am, after about 2.5 hours of driving. Bow Lake is about 1 hour from Banff, and just 30 minutes down the Icefields parkway from the junction with Highway 1. We had initially planned a different hike for the day, but due to the incredible weather (around 25˚ celsius) the park was very busy.
Bow Glacier falls turned out to be a great pick for the day as it was somewhat shaded for the majority of the hike. The water was a spectacular blue and we marvelled at it as we made our way along to shore to the back of the lake.
The falls are visible from Bow Lake, but certainly look closer than they are. It took us about 1.5 hours to hike in. The trail was busy, but didn’t feel overcrowded, though the parking lot was very full. Similar to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, many people treat Bow Lake as a viewpoint and do not actually hike in the area. Therefore, once you reach the far side of the lake, you get out of the traffic.
As we passed the far edge of the lake, we met the creek flowing from the waterfalls to the lake. The path follows this creek as you hike, with the water always on your left side. We crossed smaller creeks that joined with the main stream a few times. It passes through a canyon, so to follow along the water, we had to climb. This was the stair section as pictured. They certainly work your legs, but push through because the view at the top is worth it.
Shortly after the stairs, the forest opens up to give a view of the valley and the waterfalls. We admired the mountains around us, then continued hiking closer to the falls.
We ate lunch about 50 metres from the base of the falls, not sure how mush spray they would give off. After lunch, we walked the remainder of the way to the falls where we took photos, froze our hands in the water, and my brother took the world’s shortest nap.
After we were satisfied with our photos, we packed up and headed back to the trailhead. The hike back only took about an hour and fifteen minutes.
I would definitely recommend Bow Glacier Falls to any beginner hikers interested in a more sophisticated hiking trail than a short interpretive route, as well as anyone who happens to be passing through the area.