Distance: 15.5 km
Elevation gain: 650 m
After working for a month straight I was eager for a return visit to the Rockies. This time Sandra and I decided to head to Banff National Park, having already "seen" Jasper. With no idea where to go hiking we stopped into the Banff National Park information center in Banff and asked them where to go for a good hike. Cascade Amphitheatre was highly recommended and so we set off on the trail at the far end of the Mount Norquay ski hill.
Initially incredibly eager to experience the fantastic views we were assured awaited us, the completely viewless forest slowly sapped at our motivation as the trail switchbacked up the hill. We hung in there, still assuming the views at the end would have to be spectacular to justify the trudge, only to be terribly disappointed at the claustrophobic and tiny meadows that greeted us in the amphitheatre. This was nothing compared to Bald Hills
or Cavell Meadows
It took us awhile to realize that this was perhaps one of the most boring trails in all of Banff National Park and that the visitor center folk didn't exactly give the best advice. A short time later we started browsing for guidebooks and came across "Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies
" by Kathy and Craig Copeland. They offer opinions on hikes so that you don't, well, waste your valuable time hiking through forest when more interesting scenery beckons, and a quick read of their opinions of those hikes we'd done - especially their ranking of Cascade Amphitheatre as "Don't Do" - convinced us to buy the book.
We've since hiked most of the trails in that book, found hundreds of others, and developed our own opinions. It got us started though, so thanks Kathy and Craig! I even paid a return visit to the amphitheatre to scramble up Cascade Mountain
. It was as boring as I remembered it (but the scramble up Cascade was much better)!