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Sundance Canyon

Yesterday we answered the call of the mountains and drove through to Banff where we hiked the Sundance Canyon trail.  This is a lovely, scenic loop of around 10km, starting at the Cave and Basin. The Cave and Basin, a National Historic Site featuring warm mineral springs, has been a tourist attraction since the 1880’s but is closed until November next year for major revitalisation.  Warm, sulphur smelling streams offer a stark contrast to the ice-edged river which flows nearby.  Apparently green grass flanks these streams even when the snow is thick on the ground and they offer an oasis for many of the animals and birds which frequent this area.

View of the Bow with mountains in the distance

Because of the construction work, parking was at a premium so we parked a distance away from the trail head, adding another km or two to our hike.

We met a deer along the way

The first part of the trail, leading up to the Sundance Canyon picnic area is an open, paved pathway and is used by both hikers and cyclists.  We met a deer along this section and waited for him to take a leisurely stroll across the path before resuming our hike.

The initial short descent leads through a forest to the Bow river and then runs beside the river channels and wetlands before climbing gradually again through the forest to the picnic area.  Here the paved trail ends and a footpath meanders up alongside a number of half frozen cascades to the canyon itself.

Sundance Canyon

Standing beside the frozen waterfall

A short, steep scramble takes you to the top and then a winding path loops through the forest for about 2 km before ending back at the picnic area.  Reading up on the canyon after our hike I discovered that both black bears and grizzlies frequent this area which generally has an abundant crop of buffalo berries.  Fortunately the berries have been depleted now and most of the bears are probably heading off for their winter snooze.

Green marshland pond

We walked back to our starting point west of the main path past marshlands and startling green pools and stopped to photograph a small pond in which streams of small bubbles appeared to have been frozen on their way up to the surface of the water.

Leaving the canyon, we drove through Banff and then, not yet ready to leave the mountains, walked the short Fenland Trail before heading back home.  A great way to spend the day!

November 14, 2010 - Posted by | Hiking, Living in Canada | , ,

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