Paradise Valley – Backcountry Banff

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With a name like Paradise Valley – its gotta be good, right? With my friend in town only a few days I wanted to give her a quick snapshot into the Canadian Rockies backcountry, big views, pretty lakes, a nice river, Paradise Valley definitely ticks the boxes. Being fairly early in the season too we were limited, so I thought it would be good to do something not too committing, and the trail into the campground is only about 10km each way with 385m elevation gain.

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Rain gear was definitely required and thunder and lightning followed us into the valley, a little spooky. We had lots of food and wine in the bags but nevertheless managed to pack fairly light with our 30L packs – it helps when wearing a lot of rain gear!

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The trail follows the valley for a few kilometres before crossing some bridges and opening up with some views into the valley. Usually you can see the looming Mt Temple on your left as you walk, but the clouds were hiding it this trip. It was a little eerie walking into a thunderstorm, we contemplated going back a couple of times but when we didn’t hear lightening for about 40 minutes we continued.

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The trail then climbs up towards Lake Annette, a stunning alpine lake, and then continues to climb until you get out of the forest and cut through a massive rock slide slope, with astonishing views towards the Horseshoe Glacier and the jagged peaks surrounding it.

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Across the rocks and further into the valley we find beautiful larch alpine forest, winding its way across a couple of rivers and lingering snow patched.

The track then drops in elevation after turning off toward the campground and Giant Steps, away from the trail leading East to Sentinel Pass.

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We dropped our packs and set up our tents and then went to check out the Giant Steps which is where the river cascades over the rocks. A beautiful spot where you can see a panorama of mountains all around, in every direction.

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After mucking around taking photos and hanging out, we enjoyed a warm dinner and snuggled up in our sleeping bags.

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The next day we had slightly better weather so we headed back to the Giant Steps before heading out. Loads of beautiful scenery, it was the perfect short overnight trip.

 

Paradise Valley is a great option for those who don’t want to plan too far in advance, want a short notice available campground, or are struggling because loads of campgrounds are booked out early. Parks Canada has a 24 hour in advance booking policy for this particular campground, as the valley is in a sensitive wildlife area so a group of four restriction can go into place at any time. When the mandatory group of four restriction is in place, the campground is closed.

 

 

 

 

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