While I was doing my research for our trip to Banff there were a lot of tips and tricks for picking hikes that weren’t as crowded, or that resulted in a view beyond belief. But there weren’t a lot of articles reminding you that trails are one-way, and that “steep incline” means switchbacks that are literally straight up. And that are 27 of them.
They did mention bringing water, but that was a fact that for some reason we chose to ignore.
We had time to kill from when we arrived in Banff to when we could check into our hotel, so we decided we would get a view of the town from up above before our vacation began. The Sulphur Mountain hike came with rave reviews about the view from the top, so we thought that would be a great place to start. When we saw the map and realized it was 5.5 km one way instead of round trip (the way we were used to measuring MN trails. Oh, and also in miles!) we hesitated a minute, but figured we could do it. Even if we just had one water bottle.
To say that Sulphur kicked our butts would be a bit of an understatement. But, and such was the case with all of our hikes, the view at the top was worth it.
Sandals might not have been the best choice, for an 11 km hike, but hey…you live and you learn!
I think at this point Tom was contemplating either throwing my complaining ass off the mountain, or trying to hitch a ride on the gondolas gliding above us.
If you are looking to tackle Sulphur Mountain in a more manageable way, I would recommend using the gondola. You can choose to ride it up or down-and my suggestion would be UP if you aren’t prepared to suck a little wind. (Unless you are in much better shape than us, which isn’t hard!!) Once you tackle going up, going back down doesn’t seem so daunting. We chose to hike the entire thing, and going down was DEFINITELY a million times easier!
While you’re on your trek, keep your eyes peeled for wildlife. And by wildlife, I mean the practically domesticated chipmunks that are clearly used to humans giving them snacks, and have literally no fear of humans. They will walk right up to you just on the off chance that stick you are holding is actually food. I should mention that feeding these animals your food is dangerous to them, because they come to rely on it, and it clearly isn’t part of their intended diet.
We ended our day with burgers and beers as a reward. Our other reward? Sitting in our hotel room the rest of the night, watching Cops and eating snacks. Our legs were SORE!