Wood tick. Another sign of spring. Caught this little hitchhiker after a trip two weeks ago. Make sure to do a tick check after spring trips. Brian Patton photo.

Wood tick. Another sign of spring. We carried this little hitchhiker home after a trip two weeks ago. Make sure to check for ticks after spring trips. Brian Patton photo.

June has always been the start of our hiking season in the Mountain Parks—the time when trails start opening up above the valley bottoms. But this year is well advanced as we enter the month. Thanks to dry, warm conditions and low snowpack in the southern sections of the range, we’re already hiking dry, snowfree trails that are usually just emerging from winter’s grasp.

Here are some samples of longer day hikes and overnights in Banff Park that are clear and dry as we head into the last three weeks of spring:

Aylmer Lookout. This 9.5-km hike to a 2040m viewpoint overlooking Lake Minnewanka. Do it as a long day hike, a bike-and-hike, or stay at Lm8 campground and trek up from there. Lm8 will be closed after July 15 due to seasonal bear activity along Lake Minnewanka, so take advantage of this early-season bonus.

Shadow Lake. 14.0 km one-way. Another long day trip or overnight. You’ll likely encounter muddy trail after you leave the track of the old Redearth Fire Road at km 10.5, but no snow.

Castle Lookout. A shorter 3.8 km climb to the site of the old fire lookout that overlooked the Bow Valley and Vermilion Pass. Some friends hiked this six weeks ago, but they had to wade through a bit of snow. But it has always been a reliable, dry trip by early June.

Glacier Lake. 9.2 km to the campground at the east end of the lake. The trail is in great shape for this popular early-season backpack.

Many trails in other parks are opening up as well. You can keep track of trail conditions throughout the season by bookmarking this page and clicking the links below for the latest trail reports:

Banff National Park

Jasper National Park

Yoho National Park

Kootenay National Park 

Waterton Lakes National Park

Peter Lougheed Provincial Park

Mt Robson Provincial Park