The weather in Alberta is known for being unpredictable, and this was no exception. What had initially been planned as a family adventure day turned into an easy hike with a friend due to the extremely cold temperature. I live just over an hour away from Banff, which makes it the perfect destination for day trips and adventures of all types.
The mountains in Banff have recently been blanketed with snow… and a lot of it! This means that there is avalanche danger in many areas, so we chose a designated snowshoe trail around Johnson Lake to be safe. It’s important to use the government’s websites rather than user-based applications (such as AllTrails) when researching trail safety, especially when it comes to avalanche safety.
Johnson Lake is listed as an easy snowshoe trail on the Parks Canada website and boasts incredible views along the way. It’s a 5 km loop and is manageable for all skill levels and ages. We were met with crisp -15 °C air and luckily no bite of the wind.
What to pack for a short winter hike or snowshoe adventure
Insulated water bottle
A few snacks
Spikes for your boots
Safety items (first aid kit and bear spray, if you’re in bear country)
What to wear on your adventure
The Naoko has become one of my favourite sweaters. Easy to dress up or dress down, dries quick, and keeps me cozy outside on milder days. Paired with the Ravina jacket, this kept me perfectly warm on our cold hike (can’t say the same about my toes, sadly!). For sizing reference, I am wearing a medium in both, and I am 5’8. The arm length and torso length are great for taller women. The Ravina has wrist cuffs to keep the cold air out, and a handy chest pocket for your phone or other important items.
After our hike around Johnson Lake, we headed up to the iconic Lake Minnewanka, which was not yet frozen and made for some stunning views. Before being dammed in the 1940s, this area was used for mining and there is a village submerged beneath the lake. This makes it a popular place for scuba diving year-round.
We completed our day with a beer and a bite to eat at my favourite place in the town of Banff, the Rose & Crown pub. Located in a heritage building, and featuring lots of specials and live music, this is the place to go with friends and family (their kids menu is top notch).
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