When should you hike a trail? Some hikes lead to fascinating forests, some have tremendous views and others are rich in variety. Share your favorite trails with other hikers and nature lovers.
In general, the best months for a hike in the Banff National Park are from mid-May to late September. Hiking to the Consolation Lakes is possible from mid-May until September/October; the end of the hiking season. To enjoy these magical lakes without tour buses come here off season in May or October or early morning. The car park fills up quickly. The road to Moraine Lake car park gets opened from mid-May to roughly mid-October depending on snow conditions and avalanche risk.
Weather and Hiking Conditions
Hiking Season from earliest mid-May until latest mid-October. Many passes are covered in snow until late June. Around mid-July they become accessible, but hiking trails on higher elevation are still muddy. It’s often wet in the Rockies and depending on the amount of rainfall in spring there are tons of mosquitoes from June on until the first frost in September or October. 2015 was one of the worst years where you usually got a hundred bites and more on a weekend while camping. In 2017, it was vice versa. It was such a dry summer that you experienced very few mosquitoes in September. Unfortunately, many wildfires occurred and it was smoky most of the time with poor visibility. Many Provincial Parks and hiking trails in Alberta were closed. If planing to visit in May, September, October check trail conditions and closures first.
Pleasant day temps in July and August but still below 20°C / 68°F. Night temps are freezing cold on average 2°C / 36°F. Rain and snow occurs throughout the year depending on the elevation. September is a transitional month it can be nice and sunny but snow can happen as well. Check the weather forecast before hiking. Weather can change quickly.
It is very busy during the summer months and at weekends in the Larch season, but you can do some fantastic hikes that will take you away from the crowds. If you start early morning, you definitely do not share the trails with many other visitors. Even around midday only very view people hike the trail to Consolation Lakes. Moraine Lake is overrun almost the entire day but in the afternoon the tour buses already left the area.
The 14 km long road to Moraine Lake where the hike starts is closed when the car park is full. Queuing for up to an hour at the next picnic area is the only option to get there by car. Free and privately-operated shuttle buses are offered from Lake Louise.
Time of Day (Photography)
You get the best shot of the vibrant turquoise Moraine Lake before midday.
(Updated by When to be Where)
The park is a fantastic year-round destination. However, the best seasons for hiking and climbing are spring and fall; while spring weather might be unpredictable sometimes. The most stable weather outside of high season is usually from mid-September until mid-November. If you’d like to avoid the crowds at all costs and still experience pleasant temperatures go in OCTOBER: The heavy crowds are gone and the weather is still nice: Average high 62°F (17°C).
Weather and Crowds
Smith Rock State Park benefits from minimal rainfall and mostly sunny weather throughout the year. It has its own microclimate: The highs average some degrees warmer than recorded at the closest weather station. Monthly weather: Scroll down to the chart
March - May (Spring): Usually pleasant temperatures for hiking and climbing, especially in May. However, spring weather is sometimes unpredictable. Particularly April can still be tricky, because of the snow and rain. Quote from a local: 'April and May here in Central Oregon is some of the strangest weather months.'
June - August (Summer): Extremely hot, especially in July/August! With temperatures that often crack 100 degrees in midsummer, you have to start your hike early and bring plenty of water. It’s also ridiculously busy. Particularly narrow tracks like Misery Ridge get very crowded, even more on weekends.
September - mid-November (Autumn): Stable weather, pleasant temperatures. Perfect months for hiking and climbing. It's still crazy busy in September.
December - February (Winter): If you don’t mind the cold (dropping below 32°F / 0°C) and want to experience pure nature without any crowds go in the winter. Hiking or even climbing is a great experience. An excellent winter report: Smith Rock State Park in Winter
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
Most of the time it’s heavily crowded from May until September. Even in April, the weekends are already jam-packed. Only in OCTOBER, the crowds start to dissipate. If you visit in late spring, summer or early fall: Avoid weekends at all costs. Instead go early and on a weekday. Otherwise, the park gets ridiculously busy. The parking lots fill up extremely quick, and trails are crowded as well. However, especially in spring and fall, you should be able to get away from the crowds after hiking a few miles.
Sword Lake is a popular destination for hikers as well as backpackers because it's an easy trip and only a 2.5 miles hike from the County Line Trailhead.
The best time to visit if you plan to go swimming is summer (late June/July/August) and early fall (September). However, expect a crowded area in summer, even more on weekends. Weather details: Monthly Weather - Sonora (nearby)
Avoiding Tourist Crowds
A great time with pleasant weather and less people is September after Labor Day, when the tourist season has died down a little. But still, try to avoid weekends if possible. You can also continue 0.3 miles farther to Lost Lake if Sword Lake is too crowded.
Year round accesability, Busiest on weekends.
Dry season from Nov./Dec. to April - If there was rain the days before, water is not cristal clear; it'll be muddy. Shoulder season May and June, showers may occur but easier to find a nice casa without booking in advance. July and August are the Cuban school holiday.
Best during the dry season roughly from November to April but this is also the peak season. Shoulder season May and June is worth a try and less crowded. Showers may occur but easier to find a nice casa without booking in advance. Hiking at the rainy season is possible but expect flooded trails. You might cross rivers with high level. Avoid the cyclon season from July to October and the school holiday from July to August.