Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 150 miles, approximately 3 hours. Three levels of hiking options available: Mild (5 miles, 3.5-4 hours, starting elevation approx. 5600', elevation gain 250'), groomed trail along lakeshore; Moderate (5 miles, 3.5-4 hours, starting elevation approx. 5600', elevation gain 900'), defined trails, series of switchbacks; Motivated (10 miles, 5 hours, starting elevation approx. 5700', elevation gain 200'), defined trail with one section over rocks with steps.
At the hotel, we'll enjoy a full hot buffet breakfast with a selection of juices, coffee, tea, alternative milks, water and sparkling water included. Vegetarian, dairy free, and gluten free options available.
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel, we will have a scattered departure, with the Challenging level hikers leading first, then the Moderate, and finally the Easy level hikers. Each group will make their way by motorcoach to Kananaskis Country, a provincial park system on the way to Banff, sitting at the foothills and front ranges of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Formed 12,000 years ago, these glacial revealed mountains were made up of layers of limestone and fossilized sea creatures. Equally impressive as their geological age, archeological evidence of humans in the area, like the Stoney Dakota, Siksika, Blood, and Kootenai First Nations, goes back 8000 years. Hike at your own pace around glistening lakes, through deciduous forest, and over rocky shores, we will learn more about this spectacular ecosystem. As a reserve area, Kananaskis has immense wilderness value, with a variety of trees and shrubs, and rich bodies of fresh water it is a home to various threatened species, like bighorn sheep, grizzly bears, and westslope cutthroat trout.
We will enjoy a trailside boxed lunch.
After lunch, our hiking exploration continues; we'll learn more about the incredible and diverse landscape, and the people, plants, and animals that call it home. In the afternoon we will board our coach and continue our journey to Banff. First settled in the 1880s after the building of the transcontinental railway, this would later become the birthplace of the Canadian National Parks system. Surrounded by mountains, the town has now become a premiere destination for nature enthusiasts. Upon arrival in town we will head to the Banff Centre, which will be our home away from home for the duration of our program. We will check into our rooms, have some time to unpack and freshen up, and then meet back for dinner.
At the Banff Centre, we will enjoy a buffet meal with vegetarian, gluten, dairy free options available. Coffee, tea, water included; other beverages available for purchase.
We will be joined by a Banff Centre insider to learn about the state-of-the-art design and architecture of the premises as well as the art, its resident artists, and leaders. Then, a local geologist will take us back in time to tell us about the formation of the Rocky Mountains. We will discuss the shifting of the tectonic plates, the formation of the North American cordillera, and the glacial landform that remains.