The Canadian Rockies offer some of the most varied and scenic hiking
anywhere in the world. This vast area features amazing mountain
formations, ice capped peaks, glacially-fed aquamarine lakes, and sparkling glaciers. Alpine meadows
carpeted in bright wildflowers add color to an already stunning
landscape, and forests of spruce, alpine fir, and larch add their sweet
scent to the clean air. Hiking opportunities are practically unlimited
so we've chosen the best of the best for our active exploration of this
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The following itinerary should be considered a general
guideline, intended to give a sense of the possibilities. We may follow
it exactly, or we may vary it depending on the weather, the interests
of the group, or new opportunities. In addition women may opt to turn
around sooner on some trails, thereby decreasing the distances hiked.
Saturday, July 18: Arrive in Calgary anytime on Saturday, July 18, but in time to meet at our hotel at 5pm. We will meet in the lobby of our hotel for introductions and then go out together for a welcome dinner where we will continue getting to know each other and talk about our upcoming hiking adventure.
Sunday, July 19: This morning we load into the vans and head for Lake Louise. We will visit the world famous Chateau Lake Louise, located in one of the most beautiful settings you will ever see (pictures of it are gorgeous and don't begin to do it justice). After visiting the Chateau we take a short uphill hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House above the actual Lake, the perfect introduction to this amazing land. Our lodging tonight and for the next two nights is the Castle Mountain Hostel, a smaller hostel away from the bustle of Lake Louise that we will have all to ourselves.
Monday, July 20: Plain-of-Six Glaciers Hike. 8.2 miles round trip. The Plain of Six Glaciers is an accurate name! Actually the forefront of the Lower Victoria glacier, six glaciers are visible from it. Passing through some of the most interesting glaciated scenery in Banff National Park, our trail rises from Lake Louise to a spectacular viewpoint at the base of Mount Victoria. The teahouse at the end of the trail was built in 1924 by Swiss guides who were employed by the railway to bring tourism to the area. The baked goods now served there provide an extra reward for our hiking endeavors. Overnight Castle Mountain Hostel
Tuesday, July 21: Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass/Paradise Valley Loop. 11 miles. Of the major trails in the mountain parks, Sentinel Pass at 8,566 feet is the highest. Sandwiched between two peaks, this barren pass offers us a glimpse into the world of mountaineers. Starting in the Valley of the Ten Peaks we walk above Moraine Lake to the beautiful Larch Valley and onto Sentinel Pass. After lunch at the pass with its outstanding vistas in all directions, we descend to Paradise Valley for a gradual walk out to the road. This hike feels long by the end but is so absolutely stunning that it is well worth tired feet. Overnight Castle Mountain Hostel
Wednesday, July 22: Lake Oesa Hike, 6 miles; OR glacier hike in Jasper. What we do today will depend on the availability of bus tickets into the Lake Oesa area. If we are successful in reserving tickets, the day looks like this: This morning we will take the early bus to Lake OHara, one of the most popular parts of the park with tightly restricted access. And no wonder! It is a fragile and beautiful area and would be completely overrun with hikers if access were not limited. We'll do the classic Lake Oesa hike that wanders past aquamarine glacial lakes up into a basin of even more lakes.
If we cannot get tickets for entrance, we will plan a guided glacier walk on the Athabasca Glacier in the Jasper area. We did this in both 2013 and 2014 and the feedback has been excellent. We'll learn how to put on and walk in crampons, which make walking on ice safe and enjoyable. And we'll stop often to learn about glaciers- how they're made, what moulins are, what a crevasse is etc. Whichever we do it will be a full day! Today we move over to the lovely Fireweed Hostel in Field, BC.
Thursday, July 23: There are two excellent and very different options today. If you want to give your legs a rest, the nearby Kicking Horse River offers some of the best whitewater rafting in the Rockies. Whether you choose a shorter or longer trip, the rafting is guaranteed to be excellent (this is not included in the price of the trip). If rafting is not to your taste or you just want a more relaxed day, choices include visiting nearby Emerald Lake where hiking or canoeing are possibilities (canoe rental is additional) or exploring the quaint village of Field. Overnight Fireweed Hostel
Friday, July 24: Iceline Trail. 10 miles. This morning we head for
Takkakaw Falls, one of the most beautiful and dramatic falls in the
Rockies as it plunges 850 feet over a rocky cliff. "Takakkaw", loosely
translated from Cree, means something like "it is magnificent". The
Iceline trail is too!! Our hike for the day offers simply spectacular
overviews of the Yoho Valley. Scratched from glacial rubble, the trail
follows a sensational line, contouring the edge of Emerald Glacier for 2
miles. Panoramic vistas of the Yoho valley (Yoho is from a Cree
expression meaning awe and wonder) are our reward for venturing into
this rocky domain. Overnight Fireweed Hostel
Saturday, July 25: After a leisurely morning, we drive back to the city of Banff. Along the way we will stop for a three mile hike along tumbling waters in the deep cleft of Johnson Canyon. This asphalt-covered path is one of the most popular in the Park and no wonder - its gentle grade up to spectacular waterfalls is outstanding. Once in town there are a number of possible things to do, including a visit to the famous cave and basin hot springs, a ride up the sulphur mountain gondola, or a visit to the Whyte Museum. There will also be time to shop for last minute souvenirs. After an early dinner there we drive back to Calgary for final farewells. Overnight Calgary
Sunday, July 26: We will be staying at a hotel that has a shuttle to the airport and you are free to depart anytime for home. But Calgary is also an interesting town in its own right and you might want to spend time visiting it before heading home.
Price: $2295 (click here for discounts) $300 deposit. You can check out our cancellation policies here. Single rooms are only available the first and last nights for an additional $200.
- Experienced hiking guides
- Eight nights lodging in hostels and hotels
- All meals from dinner Saturday through breakfast the following Sunday with the exception
of two lunches. We will go out to restaurants for some meals where you
can order off the menu, and cook in the hostels for other meals.
- Round-trip transportation from Calgary to the Parks
- Park entry fees
- Whitewater rafting on Thursday is an optional cost
Not included: airfare to Calgary, two lunches, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities
If you’ve never traveled with us before, you may have some questions about how we do things and what you can expect. We’ve answered the most common ones below and are always available by phone or email to answer any others.
How do I pay for my trip?
You can make the deposit by submitting a secure form with your credit card information after filling out the registration form or calling us with your card information. We will send you an invoice for the balance due with your Predeparture Information 4 months before an International trip and 3 months before a domestic trip. You can get a 3% discount for paying the balance by check.
What if I’m coming alone?
The majority of women who travel with us come by themselves. If you want to pay a single supplement to guarantee your own room, or if you want to share a room with someone with whom you are traveling, you can indicate that on the registration form. Otherwise we randomly assign roommates and rotate every time we change lodging – it’s a great way to get to know different women on the trip.
Can you accommodate special diets?
It depends on both the trip and on your specific needs. With advance notice, we can accommodate most dietary restrictions or allergies on our domestic trips, including vegetarian, vegan, and gluten intolerant. This is not always true on international trips, so please contact us in advance if you have specific dietary needs. We've found that if you are willing to bring some of your own snacks and a couple of items to supplement what is on the menu (peanut butter is always good!) and possibly have less variety than you are used to at home, then dietary needs usually are no obstacle.
If in doubt about your specific dietary needs, especially if you have Celiac disease, please give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email.
What if I have to cancel my trip?
The amount of your refund depends on how close to the trip you cancel and whether it is a domestic or an international trip. You can read our cancellation policies here. We highly recommend travel insurance because cancellations are always unexpected; we will send you additional information about insurance when you register.
Will my family be able to get in touch with me in case of an emergency?
Yes, we always send out emergency contact information. On a few trips, because of limitations in communication, the best approach is to give them the office number and let us make the contact.
What other information will you send me?
When you register, we’ll send you a Trip Summary that includes the itinerary, travel information, and a packing list. Three to four months before your trip we’ll send you Pre-Departure information that includes detailed information on how to get to the trip starting point, pre- or post-trip lodging suggestions, suggested books and websites etc. Four to six weeks before the trip, we’ll send you a list of everyone who is registered along with their travel plans; and a Pre-Trip letter with the name of your guide(s) and how to contact them if your arrival is delayed as well as any other important updates.
Do you help with pre-trip and/or post-trip hotel reservations?
For international trips, if you want to stay at the hotel where we’re staying the first night before the trip, or at the hotel we’re staying the last night after the trip, we’re happy to make a reservation for you. Otherwise our PreDeparture Information will have hotel suggestions. Our travel agent is also happy to help you with this.
How does the waitlist process work and how often do people cancel?
If you are interested in a trip that is full, you should sign up here. If there is a cancellation, we send out an email to everyone who has expressed interest and ask them to respond within 24 hours. If more than one person is interested, we give the space to the person who has traveled with us before or in the order of being put on the waitlist. Frequently, even when we have a long wait list, it is the last person to sign up who is still available to go. Whether or not there will be a cancellation is completely unpredictable, although not uncommon.
What is the role of the guide(s)?
On every trip, the primary roles of the guide(s) are to ensure your safety and to make sure that, to the extent possible, you are having the trip you want. The guide(s) will also make sure that you know what is happening each day and what you need to bring to be prepared. On domestic trips the guide(s) will also likely be driving, preparing picnic lunches and sometimes other meals, providing skills instruction, and giving you information about the natural history of the area. On any trip where we partner with another company (which is most international trips and some trips that require special equipment), the AGC guide will work with the local guide to make sure that the trip is conducted in accordance with the AGC philosophy.
What if I have more questions?
Give us a call (877/439-4042) or send us an email. A Program Manager is assigned to each trip. Once you have registered, she will send you a registration confirmation letter that includes her name and email, and she will be your primary contact. Her job is to make sure that you get all your questions answered and that you feel completely prepared for your adventure.
What if I'm the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape/only single woman/only mom on the trip?
You might be. Someone has to be the oldest/youngest/heaviest/least in shape person on the trip. And while the great majority of our trips have both single and non-single women, and moms and non-moms, sometimes they don't. But it doesn't matter if you're "different" in any of those ways - what you will share with everyone else is a desire to experience adventure in your life, and an appreciation of the joy and camaraderie of being in an all women's group.