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One of Banff's most popular in town hikes is to hike to the top of Tunnel Mountain. It's popular for good reason as there are stunning views along every step of the way. You'll climb a series of switchbacks up the mountain bringing you up to an elevation of 1690 m/5,543 ft. The elevation gain (300m or 948 feet) is why you'll find a lot of Banff locals using Tunnel Mountain as part of their workout. It's 4.3 km (2.7 miles) round-trip. The views from the top are a huge pay off.
The time it takes to reach the top varies based on your fitness level but on average I would say you should set aside 45 minutes to reach the top and a little less to head back down. The trail is in peak summer conditions from mid June to late September. Locals climb tunnel mountain year round using yak traks to get up top on snowy conditions.
Pack a picnic and sit up top. It would be a sweet proposal spot. From downtown Banff drive up Buffalo Street until it turns into Tunnel Mountain Road. You'll see a small parking lot on the left. If you are fit and looking to add some extra elevation to your hike you can walk from downtown by turning east on Buffalo Street from the southern end of Banff Street. Buffalo Street turns into Wolverine. Look for St. Julien Road and you'll find the trailhead on the northside of St. Julien Road.
That's tunnel mountain below, the rounded mountain covered in trees sitting beside the dramatic Rundle mountain.
Our little mountain dogs Leroy and Mabel. I've seen people walk up Tunnel in flip flops but they didn't look happy about it when they reached the top. You can do it but you're better off putting on a pair of hiking or running shoes as the trail is rocky and rooty.
A view of The Fairmont Banff Springs golf course from up top.
The view of Mount Rundle from the top is absolutely gorgeous. There are a few lookout points along the way to the top so you can stop and take photos and enjoy the view.
The top is breathtaking. Stop and sit awhile. You'll get perfect views of Banff townsite below and a get a sense for just how small town is in the midst of the vast wilderness, that's a good feeling.