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Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

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Winnipeg, Canada
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118 posts
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Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

Anyone done it? How strenuous is it? My husband and I are in reasonably shape, but aren't avid hikers or anything. Is it true if you hike up you can ride down the gondola for free?

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

I don't know the distance or elevation gain, but have ridden the gondola up and seen the trail switchbacking its way up the mountain below the gondola. It is a hike up a mountain, so it is strenuous. I am an avid hiker, but when there is a gondola up a mountain, I prefer to take it, and save my energy for another hike... one that is not so busy, and offers more solitude instead of gondola cars whizzing by above my head!

Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Banff National Park
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2. Re: Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

The trail is 5.5 kms one way, 655 m elevation gain. It is very well designed - the switchbacks are not steep, although they do get a bit steeper as you near the top. Parks Canada's website says 2.5 - 4 hours. In my experience, folks who are reasonably fit do this in 2 - 3 hours. We did this with my daughter when she was three, and she walked the whole way. It's a very different experience than the gondola ride, as you get to enjoy the views in slow motion.

You used to be able to ride down for free, but now that privilege is reserved for locals (as identified by the address on their drivers' licences). Everyone else pays $11.75 for the ride down.

In my opinion, the real treat on Sulphur Mountain to ride up, then walk down the old jeep road on the "back" - the opposite side from the gondola. There are lovely views, the trail is practically deserted, and the rock cuts where the route was blasted out are full of astonishing fossils (remember to look, enjoy, but leave them where you found them). You come out on the Sundance Road, about 3 kms from the Cave and Basin parking lot.

Calgary, Canada
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for Calgary
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3. Re: Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

A few years ago, I did the opposite: took the gondola up, but walked down the switchbacking trail. Having done that, I would never walk up that particular trail; it isn't particularly attractive, it's surprisingly busy, and there are easier ways to get to the main destination (the top of the mountain). Next time I go, I'll consider taking the road down instead, the way banff described.

Houston, Texas
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4. Re: Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

I would not recommend Sulphur Mountain as a hike, it is not particularly pretty (compared to other hikes in the park), and the effort required is not worth the views you get.

Instead, try the hike down to Johnston Canyon, or go to Lake Louise and do the Plain of the Six Glaciers. These are both easy and have much better views.

5. Re: Hiking up Sulphur Mountain

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