Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park could easily be considered one of Alberta’s most scenic hikes—and the real beauty of it is that you don’t even have to work that hard to enjoy the million-dollar views. Located in the popular Sunshine Village ski resort, the trails open up as soon as the snow melts, revealing plenty of well-marked trails which wind past piercing blue lakes, fragrant meadows bursting with wildflowers and spectacular vantage points of the surrounding mountain ranges.
Those used to frequenting the resort during winter may be surprised to see where the trails begin: at the top of the Standish quad chairlift, where there just so happens to be a huge wooden platform overlooking the pristine valley spread out below. It’s usually buried under several metres of snow, but once the white stuff melts it’s the perfect place to enjoy views of the tranquil alpine lakes dotting the landscape, including Larynx, Grizzly and Rock Isle.
The panoramic vistas are reason enough to make the trip out, but there’s another advantage to picking this scenic spot for a day hike: you don’t actually need to hike. While fit folks may be inclined to tackle the trails from the base of the village which can add an additional two hours of hiking through thick forests, most people take the easy route and book a seat on the bus or gondola, then hop on the Standish chairlift to summit the 2,400 metre elevation.
From there, the landscape opens up and the walking trails are mostly flat, making them accessible for all ages and skill levels. The meadows straddle the Continental Divide between Alberta and British Columbia, and the canopy of vibrant flowers framed by the towering Rocky Mountains make the scenery unforgettable no matter which route you pick. However, no visit is complete without a jaunt around Rock Isle, which is the area’s crown jewel.
Budget a couple of hours to meander along the trails, or kick it up a notch and spend a full day tackling Quartz Ridge or Healy Pass. No matter which path you take, a day at Sunshine Meadows is guaranteed to be unforgettable.
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