Hiking to Stanley Glacier in Kootenay National Park was a great hike to do last September. We were the only vehicle in the parking lot, so first out on the trail.
Along the trail over scree slopes
After crossing the bridge from the parking lot, the trail winds slowly through forest which had been burnt twice, once in 1968 and again in 2003. Now the forest is going through the process of succession, so there are a lot of new growth Lodgepole Pine trees. The new trees aren’t yet too tall so you get some good views along the way, whilst you work your way through the switchbacks along the trail.
Stanley Glacier in sight
As we got further into the valley, we followed a less well-marked trail over the scree slopes of the rock wall of Stanley Peak.
At the edge of the hanging valley
Looking back down the valley
Eventually we reached a little treed hanging valley closer to the Stanley Glacier. We stopped long enough to take some photographs and have a quick snack, but not too long. It was getting cooler as it was a fairly cloudy day with a few flakes of snow.
From the treed hanging valley
Lots of scree/moraine at the end of the valley near Stanley Glacier
Our lunchtime visitor – a Ptarmigan
About to set off back down the valley
After our quick break we made our way back down the valley following a trail on the eastern valley side this time. The scree here was fairly loose, so hiking poles would have been handy! It was a relief to get back down to the switchbacks at the bottom of the valley and out of the wind.
The total distance for our hike was approximately 12 km (7.5 miles) with 815 metres (2700 feet) in elevation gain.
When we got back to the car we headed for a quick trip around Marble Canyon, and then went and warmed up with a hot chocolate at Storm Mountain Lodge on the way back to Banff. The lodge is an amazing log building constructed as part of a bungalow camp in 1922 and has cabins in the surrounding forest for guests to stay in.
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