Tunnel Mountain, also known as Sleeping Buffalo, Iinii Istako, Eyarhey Tatanga Woweyahgey Wakân.
Located in the heart of Banff, Tunnel Mountain Trail is definitely a “must-do” in the Bow Valley. This short 4.51km hike begins right from the town of Banff and gives an incredible view of the town and its surroundings. You can admire not only Banff but also the Bow River, the mountain ranges that surround it, as well as the iconic Fairmont Banff Spring hotel and its majestic golf course.
Tunnel Mountain trail is a very popular spot because of its accessibility – allowing you to admire spectacular views with very little effort required. The full elevation is approximately 261 m when starting from the lowest parking lot. You also have the option of parking a little higher during the summer, but the road is not accessible by vehicle in winter.
As a local in Banff, I do this trail at least once a week to get some fresh air between meetings or at the end of a workday. It would take around 1 or 2 hours to complete this hike. (Local tip: make sure to always carry crampons in case the trail is a little icy – which happens very often). Also, since it's a pretty busy trail, I would suggest going early in the morning or late in the day to make the most of it and get a little bit of peace up there!
Although this hike is quite short and quick, it may be worth bringing a few layers of clothing if you want to enjoy the views and stay at the top longer. Since it is not a hike that makes me sweat a lot, I chose to wear my Pecora fleece, in POLARTEC®, to keep me warm throughout my activity. As for my pants, I opted for the Matkailu HV II (which I love) since they are very versatile. Not only are they windproof, but they also allow dispersion and evacuation of moisture. (P.s. They also have a pocket with a zipper on the back left side big enough to put my phone in. Personally, I find it super practical since I don't usually bring a backpack when I do this hike).
In terms of size, I'm 5'2 and I usually wear small. I would say the Pecora fleece definitely has more of an oversized look, and I noticed that the sleeves are a bit long. However, I'm quite used to wearing loose clothes, which allows me to wear layers underneath. As for the Matkailu HV II pants, I would say that they fit just a bit bigger since I had to opt for XS instead of Small.
Location: Banff National Park
Distance: 4,5 km round trip
Elevation: 261 m
Time: 1-2 hours
Note: It is not surprising to encounter some wildlife on the trail. In fact, I had the chance to see some during my hike as you can see. (Local tip: make sure you always stay away from animals and give them space. It is also very important to never feed them).
Enjoy your hike!