Thursday, 12 March 2009

Hiking Trails - Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain is located near Banff in Banff National Park, Alberta.

Today's hike has an elevation gain of 300 metres. It has been many years since I've been on this trail, but the only change from my youth is the fire tower has been removed.

4.3 km (2.7 miles) round-trip 2 – 3 hours

[1 - Tunnel Mountain taken from Sulphur Mountain - click to enlarge]

In 1858, James Hector named this small peak: The Hill. In 1882, Major Rogers planned to construct a tunnel through this mountain for the railway line, not realizing he could easily avoid the problem of the cliffs above the Bow River by following the Cascade River and going north of The Hill. When CPR General Manager William Van Horne saw Rogers' plans he was furious. "Are we going to hold up this railway for a year and a half while they build their damned tunnel? Take it out!" So the tunnel was never built, but the mountain name commemorates Rogers' intended folly.*

The St. Julien Road trailhead can be reached by turning east off Banff Avenue via Moose or Wolf Street. Shortly after passing the angled junction to Grizzly Street turn left (uphill) to the parking lot with the trail sign (just north of the Banff Centre).

[2- Tunnel mountain trail]

At 0.4km the trail crosses the Tunnel Mountain Road

Above the road there are a series of long switchbacks that provide a gradual ascent through a forest of lodgepole pines and Douglas firs.

[3 - south-west view looking over Banff townsite and Sulphur Mountain]

There will be occasional glimpses of the Town of Banff and Bow Valley.

[4- wildflower - click to enlarge]

[5- Deer encounter on trail - click to enlarge]

[6- Encounter on the trail - click to enlarge]

[7- Younger buck on trail - click to enlarge]

[8- click to enlarge]


[10-Juniper berries - click to enlarge]

[11-view west Bow River Valley - click to enlarge]

[12 - click to enlarge]

[13 - Trail - click to enlarge]

[14 - Banff townsite and Bow River - click to enlarge]

[15 - south-west view of Banff and Sulphur Mountain, line across is road to Upper Hot Springs and the Gondola Cable Car Station - click to enlarge]

[16 - Tunnel Mountain Trail - click to enlarge]

[17- View west over Bow River Valley and Sulphur Mountain on left- click to enlarge]

[18- View north-east over Bow River Valley - click to enlarge]

[19- View south in Spray River valley from trail, Suphur Mountain on right - click to enlarge]

[20-Crocus on trail - click to enlarge]

[21- wildflower on Tunnel Mountain Trail -click to enlarge]

[22- View west of Banff townsite, Bow River Valley and Vermilion Lakes- click to enlarge]

[23- View south-east toward Mt. Rundle and Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course - click to enlarge]

The (Fairmont) Banff Springs Hotel has a 27-hole championship golf course.

[24-View east of Bow River Valley - click to enlarge]


[26-view north-east]

[27-View east of Bow River Valley, Mt. Rundle and Banff Springs Hotel Golf Course - click to enlarge]


[29- Near summit of Tunnel Mountain - click to enlarge]

[30- View west over Banff townsite, Bow River Valley and the Vermilion Lakes - click to enlarge]

There are limestone slabs near the summit.

On the summit ridge, the trail doubles back and runs above Tunnel Mountain’s east facing cliffs.

Trail ends at 1,690 m at the site where there had been a fire lookout tower once named ‘King’s Lookout’ after King George VI and Queen Elizabeth hiked there in 1939.

Stoney Indian Noah Cecil said his grandfather helped carry a dying tribesman atop Tunnel Mountain, and erect a teepee for his departing spirit, commenting, "A man's a long time dead. On mountain he see more." (Harriet Hartley Thomas, From Barnacle to Banff)

[31-Summit of Tunnel Mountain]

Sources: ParksCanada

Photo Credits: [1][21]-ocad123 CC-nc-nd-flickr, [2][3][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][17][18][19][22][23][24][25][26][27][28]-diluvienne CC=nc-flickr, [4]-ronsipherd CC-nc-nd-flickr, [16]-Graingraf CC=nc-nd-flickr, [20]-djking CC=nc-sa-flickr, [29]-cicadas CC=nc-sa-flickr, [30][31]-el capitan CC=nc-sa-flickr.


Anonymous said...

Wow! So many great photos. What a treat Barbara. Thank you so much for spending the time to present such a detailed visual feast. That is some valley - the ancient geological history would be fascinating.My brother-in-law and his wife lived in Banff for a while in the 1980's on a work visa. They loved it.

bindu said...

How awesome to live close to such hikes! Love the questioning look on the first deer's face. Don't understand how people can shoot them. Fantastic views. I want to move up north!

Crystal Phares said...

Barbara, you have some of the most beautiful places featured on your blog. Every time you post a new one, I am blown away.

Just wanted to let you know that I posted my book review on The Reader. Drop by and let me know what you think. Have a great day!

Charles Gramlich said...

This is perfect. I was thinking last night that I could use one of your hiking posts for a brief scene I have in a WIP. This is the place I'm going to select. Excellent.

Reb said...

I never knew the story behind the name of Tunnel mountain, thanks Barbara. That was a wonderful hike, I'm all out of breathe now ;)

laughingwolf said...

more reasons to love the west... thx barbara...

Barbara Martin said...

Pam, part of that geological history is the discovery that the lower layers of Mt. Rundle reveal an ancient seabed complete with seashells.

Bindu, when I lived in Alberta I was only hours away and could spend long weekends at a whim. Which I did many times.

I don't have a problem with those hunting deer as long as they have one clean quick killing shot. Venison is a rare treat for me.

Shelley Munro said...

I was constantly amazed by the places they built railroads when we visited the US. Another great hike by the looks of it. I liked the toadstill shot and the crocus. Very pretty.

Barbara Martin said...

Crystal, most of the places I post about I have been at one time or another. I have always loved the mountains since my first visit as a toddler.

I'll be over shortly to see your review.

Charles, glad to be of assistance.

Reb, this is a good hike to take before going on the other more strenuous ones available. It's a good warmup hike. Another good hike is the one up Sulphur Mountain and to save yourself going down, you could take the Gondola cable car.

Banff is my old tramping ground, as it had been for my mother and grandparents. My grandfather got a construction contract in the early 1900s to put in bridges over the creeks and rivers around Banff. When the bridges were washed out in the spring he would return and replace them at his cost as he had guaranteed them. Soon he took out insurance to cover his costs.

Raph G. Neckmann said...

Love the Tunnel Mountain - it looks secretive and special!

I would be lying down like the last photo long before reaching the destination!!

BernardL said...

It would be a very beautiful trek from any of those trail-heads. I enjoyed the Major's folly. They had common sense back then. :)

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Amazingly beautiful. That glorious yellow tree!!

Barbara Martin said...

Tony, there are nice places out east too, which I will cover eventually.

Shelley, this hike is easier than most, practically anyone who likes to walk would be able to do it. The grade is minimal.

Raph, after reaching the top, if the day is sunny as in the last photo, I would lay down to bask in the warm rays too.

Now surely with those long giraffe legs you'd be up to the top in no time.

Barbara Martin said...

Bernard, there's only one safe trailhead for this hike. The other is a bit risky that ends at the campground. One of the deaths to occur on the latter route was in 1952 when a twelve year old boy fell from the cliffs.

Teresa said...

What beautiful scenery!! I love the wildflowers and the deer. I would love to sleep on those rocks.

J. L. Krueger said...

You know, it takes me a good 40 minutes each week (on my day off) to catch up with all your great posts. These travelogs most of all as I tend to wistfully enlarge all the photos using our very slow Internet connection.

As I'm not really a "people person" these wild places are my favorites. I prefer wild critters and places to civilization and...well...wild humans.

Barbara Martin said...

Pamela, autumn colours, that.

Teresa, you could sleep there if you had a body guard. There are bears in Banff townsite, too. Not often, but they have been known to roam there.

J.L., then you and I are kindred spirits. I'm not much for the urban jungle I live in.

Lauren said...

Wow! Those are awesome shots! It looks like you are enjoying the beginings of spring :) What a nice area to hike in. I love the deer an the pic with the juniper berries.

laughingwolf said...

there are of course, but my heart's in the west....

RuneE said...

I was fascinated by the name _ Tunnel Mountains and Sulphur Mountains. The last one is I suppose fairly obvious, but to me the first one reminds me of all the tunnels I see daily. A fabulous series.

PS I'm not a gull expert, but I would suppose a variety of black-backed gull. There are so very many types of gull - I must buy myself a book.

Barbara Martin said...

RuneE, Suphur Mountain is known for its hot springs. I had a guest blog on Shelley Munro's site where I wrote about the Cave and Basin Lower Hot Spring Pools. The link is on the sidebar down below the Music CDs.

Michele said...

I know this area well and it's only a hop and skip away from me... it's such an amazing area teeming with tourists to catch a glimpse of the views. I am looking forward to spring/summer to start walking once again!
Your photos are stunning and are quite remarkable!! They show the area perfectly!!