This walk had me singing the Dance Magic Dance song from the Labyrinth the whole way. “Hoodoo!? You do. Do What? Remind me of the babe. etc.” For some reason Marc didn’t seem impressed with my dancing about along to “you remind me of the babe.”
The hoodoos trail is an easy-ish hike, and very accessibly from the center of Banff. The walk starts at a car park at Surprise Corner, and winds its way through pretty forest between the Bow river and Tunnel Mountain. In the end you should emerge at a viewpoint of the hoodoos. Hopefully you won’t be caught in a blizzard like us, so you’ll actually have a view of the hoodoos. But even if you don’t see any views, this is still a pleasant walk with plenty of squirrels and birds to watch out for.
Hoodoos trail map – Banff
Hoodoos trail, Banff – the basics
Distance: 9.6km (both ways)
Elevation gain: Minimal (90m ish) but the path is steep in some sections.
Time: 2 hours
What to bring:
Walking boots were helpful on the steep sections, but you could manage in any non-slippy shoe.
The ten essentials
There are car parks at each end of the walk, and loos near the hoodoos.
Yes, this is a really good trail for doggos.
How hard is it?
Pretty easy. There are a few steep moments to get your heart going, but it’s not a long walk and the path is easy to follow.
Before you start, have a peek down at the Bow river and waterfalls!
The hoodoos trail – getting started
We left our car in the car park at Surprise Corner. What is the surprise? I think it might be the amazing view over to Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and the rushing waters of the Bow river! Take a few steps over to the edge of the cliff before you start this walk to look down at these views. Once you are ready, the start of the hoodoos trail leaves from the back of the car park, the opposite side to the road.
There is another trail on the opposite side of the river to see Bow Falls. But, even if you don’t have time to do both walks, the view down to the gushing white water of the Bow river was a sight to behold!
Step into fairyland
As you can see from my photos, it had just started to snow, so there were not many other people heading out for a walk! I think we saw one other person on the whole route to the hoodoos. This meant the forest was quiet and so pretty with a sprinkling of snow.
Views of Mount Rundle
Once you’ve made it through the first forested section, there should be some lovely views up to Mount Rundle from the quiet side-channels of the Bow River. We didn’t see much in the mist, but these views must be incredible on sunny days.
Tunnel Mountain cliffs
In the other direction, the cliffs on the side of Tunnel Mountain tower above the path. This teeny mountain looks much more impressive from this angle, than the easy-looking hill viewed from the center of Banff!
Hoodoos trail steep sections
There are a few moments that will get your heart pumping. After wandering along the Bow River, you need to climb up the steep banks into the forest. Again, this path must have amazing views of the surrounding mountains if you are smart enough not to hike in a snowstorm! Heh!
We saw (and heard) quite a few squirrels and birds. This was the only little dude to sit still long enough for me to take a photo though. Snow on my lens made him a little blurry, but I thought he was a sweetie.
Once you make it to the viewpoints (there are several of them…just keep wandering along to find the best views), you should be able to look down to the hoodoo rock formations. By the time we arrived, the snow was falling pretty thickly, so it was actually pretty comical how little we could see! We could sort of make out hoodoo shapes, but they were partly hidden in the mist, so i don’t have any good photos.
What is a hoodoo anyway?
Hoodoos are a rock formations that have been been eroded into a column, often with a bit of a cap on top. They looked like the Gargoyles that we climbed to in Garibaldi National Park. Apparently they have other names like fairy chimneys or goblins; So it’s sort of appropriate that I kept getting labyrinth songs in my head.
Once we’d given up on seeing hoodoos (or any of the mountains) we started to head back the way we came. There was a gap in the clouds, so we had a few moments looking up to Tunnel Mountain (above) and over to Mount Rundle (below).
We may not have had a great hoodoo view, but it was still a fun walk! The hoodoos trail is perfect if you need to stretch your legs or walk your dog. I’m glad we did it. Never let a teeny bit of bad weather stop you from exploring!
Return to the Hoodoos in spring
We came back to Banff in springtime and couldn’t resist taking a peek at these views without the clouds. We finally got to see the Hoodoos! You can see them in the bottom left of this photo. ☺
Other easy hikes near Banff:
We didn’t do any particularly strenuous alpine walks in our time in Banff. If you like the sound of this and would like to take a peek at other easy walks we did nearby, have a look at these options: