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Recommended Guidebooks

Here's a hand-picked list of guidebooks you may find useful. To purchase them, check with the following retailers:

  • Map Town
    in Calgary, Alberta
    Phone (403) 266-2246
    toll-free 1 (877) 921-6277
    fax 266-2356 

  • Friends of Banff
    in Banff, Alberta
    Phone (403) 762-8918
    fax 762-2933
     
For their addresses, see Western Canada under Dealer List



Trail Guides

Hiking

Ridgewalks and Scrambles

Mountain Biking

Art and Hiking



Other Guidebooks

Field Guides

General

Guidebooks for Other Areas

Trail Guides - Hiking

 
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Don't Waste Your Time in the Canadian Rockies:
The Opinionated Hiking Guide
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 5th edition, 2006, 544 pages, full color, $36.95.

This is an excellent guide to the best hikes in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes national parks, plus Mt. Robson and Mt. Assiniboine provincial parks. 138 day hikes and backpacking trips are listed and rated as Premier, Outstanding, Worthwhile or Don't Do. Each trail description includes a frank opinion of the trail, a comprehensive route description and a map. With more than 250 color photos, this is an indispensable guidebook to the best trails in the Canadian Rockies.


Rockies Trail Guide

Canadian Rockies Trail Guide
By Brian Patton and Bart Robinson, Summerthought Publishers, 9th (40th anniversary) edition, 2011, 454 pages, $24.95

This comprehensive trail guide covers more than 3,400 kilometres of trails in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes National Parks, plus the provincial parks of Mt. Assinboine, Mt. Robson, Akamina-Kishinena, Peter Lougheed, and Elk Lakes. 229 major trails are described, with the emphasis on major dayhikes and backpacking trips. Trail distances, elevation gains and junction mileages are given with well-written descriptions. This is the 9th edition of this popular trail guide which has been around for 40 years and has sold more than 250,000 copies. It's the locals' "trail bible."


Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies

Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
By Graeme Pole, Mountain Vision Publishing, 3rd edition, 2011, 288 pages, $27.95, full color.

Sixty-three of the best day hikes and backpacking trips in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes, Mt. Assinboine, Mt. Robson, Akamina-Kishinena, and Kananaskis parks are described in this full-color trail guide. As well as trailhead and route descriptions, it offers side-trip options and is packed with information on the history, geology, wildlife and wildflowers along the trail. Color maps, sidebars and hundreds of photos illustrate the trail descriptions.


Easy Hikes

Walks and Easy Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
By Graeme Pole, Mountain Vision Publishing, 2012, 184 pages, full colour, $21.95.

The brand new edition of this handy trail guide covers 151 easily-accessible trails in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay and Waterton Lakes National Parks ranging from viewpoints a few feet from the car to more strenuous half-day hikes to teahouses and hoodoos. Great color photos, plus interesting sidebars and historical and natural history notes. It's very well-organized, so you'll be able to easily plot your outings as you tour the parks.


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Fire Lookout Hikes in the Canadian Rockies
By Mike Potter, Luminous Compositions, 1st edition, 1998, 232 pages, colour, $19.95.

Fire lookouts are natural hiking destinations. They have good access and are situated on vantage points that allow sweeping panoramas. This book covers 82 hikes to active lookouts and the sites of former lookouts from the U.S. border to Grande Cache in Alberta and the Robson Valley in British Columbia.


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Backcountry Banff
By Mike Potter, Luminous Compositions, 3rd edition, 2001, 208 pages, black and white, $16.95.

This hiking guide covers 125 trails in the Banff area, ranging from easy walks around Banff townsite to multi-day hikes and scrambles, including some not in any other guide book. Trail descriptions include trail junction mileages, as well as notes on wildlife and natural history. 150 photos illustrate the text. Author Mike Potter is a former Park interpreter and knows the area intimately.


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Hiking Lake Louise
By Mike Potter, Luminous Compostitions, 2005, 128 pages, black and white, $11.95.

More than 75 trails are covered in this detailed trail guide to the Lake Louise area. Hikes range from easy nature walks around Lake Louise Village to a scramble up the north side of Mt. Temple. Trail descriptions include mileages at trail junctions, background on wildlife and natural history and lots of photos. Author Mike Potter is a former Park interpreter and knows the area intimately.


Rockies Access Guide

Canadian Rockies Access Guide
By John Dodd and Gail Helgason, Lone Pine Publishing, 3rd edition, 2009, 384 pages, colour photos, $26.95.

This is the most comprehensive guidebook we've found describing day hikes in the Canadian Rockies. The trails in Banff and Jasper Parks are very well-represented; those in the Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton and Kananaskis areas less so. Trail descriptions and directions to the trailhead are clear and the writing is lively and informative. Complementing the 115 day hikes are useful sections with specifics on other outdoor adventures like canoeing, camping, cycling and even where to find wildlife. The authors are experienced journalists.


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Done in a Day: Banff, The 10 Premier Hikes
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2007, 136 pages, 90 color photos, $17.95.

A new series by celebrated "Don't-Waste-Your-Time-in-the-Canadian-Rockies" guidebook authors Kathy and Craig Copeland (see above). Full color, packable size (4.5" x 7") guidebook with trail descriptions and precise directions to the best ten day hikes in the Banff area. Choose an easy, vigorous or challenging day hike, start within a short drive of Banff townsite and be back for a hot shower, great meal and soft bed at the end of the day. Trail maps, lots of photos and notes on the history, culture and sights in the area.


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Done in a Day: Jasper, The 10 Premier Hikes
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2007, 128 pages, 75 color photos, $17.95.

A new series by celebrated "Don't-Waste-Your-Time-in-the-Canadian-Rockies" guidebook authors Kathy and Craig Copeland (see above). Full color, packable size (4.5" x 7") guidebook with trail descriptions and precise directions to the best ten day hikes in the Jasper area. Choose an easy, vigorous or challenging day hike, start within a short drive of Jasper townsite and be back for a hot shower, great meal and soft bed at the end of the day. Trail maps, lots of photos and notes on the history, culture and sights in the area.


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Where the Locals Hike in the Canadian Rockies: The Premier Trails in Kananaskis Country, near Canmore and Calgary
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2nd edition, 2005, 304 pages, full color, $28.95

Another opinionated guide to 55 of the best hikes in Kananaskis Country, located within a two-hour drive of the Calgary airport. Day hikes and backpacking trips are thoroughly described in the authors' usual entertaining and informative fashion. Fifteen of the trips are shoulder-season hikes, since many of the trails in Kananaskis are snow-free earlier than those in the higher elevation areas of Banff and Lake Louise.


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Kananaskis Trail Guide, Vol. I
By Gillean Daffern, Rocky Mountain Books, 3rd edition, 1996, 272 pages, black and white, $15.95.

If you're planning to spend a lot of time hiking in Kananaskis Country, this is the most comprehensive guide available to the trails in the area. Coverage in Volume 1 includes trails in the Canmore, Spray Lakes and Kananaskis Lakes areas. The emphasis is on major day hikes with many "unofficial trails," included, which may require route-finding skills and some minor scrambling.


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Kananaskis Trail Guide, Vol. II
By Gillean Daffern, Rocky Mountain Books, 3rd edition, 1997, 320 pages, black and white, $16.95.

A companion to Volume 1 (above), this trail guide covers the Highwood, Livingstone, Sheep River, Elbow River and Jumpingpound regions of Kananaskis Country. The emphasis is on major day hikes with many "unofficial trails," included, which may require route-finding skills and some minor scrambling.


Great Divide Trail

Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail
By Dustin Lynx, Rocky Mountain Books, 2nd edition 2007, 255 pages, black and white, $24.95.

Trekking the Continental Divide, from the U.S. border to Kakwa Lake, just became easier. In the first guidebook devoted to Canada's 1200 kilometre Great Divide Trail (GDT), Dustin Lynx helps hikers piece together the myriad of individual routes that form a continuous trail along the Divide.

Outlining the six major sections of the GDT, Lynx breaks the trail into 20 kilometre segments and describes the terrain and condition of each segment.

Lynx assists long distance hikers with indispensable pre-trip planning advice, helping them overcome daunting logistical challenges such as resupply, navigation and access.


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Trail Guides - Ridgewalks and Scrambles

 
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Ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies
By Mike Potter, Luminous Compositions, 2nd edition, 2003, 304 pages, black and white, $19.95.

Ridgewalks are popular with people looking for challenging hikes with rewarding views. This is the only guidebook that exclusively covers ridgewalks in the Canadian Rockies. The 150 described here cover ridgewalks from Jasper to Waterton. Also included are more than 50 pages of maps and 160 photos.


Scrambles

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies
By Alan Kane, Rocky Mountain Books, 2003, 336 pages, $29.95.

More than 100 favorite scrambles are graded and described. They range from easy walk-ups for experienced hikers to hands-on scrambles for novice climbers. Includes 155 black and white route-marked photos.


Scrambles

More Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies
By Andrew Nugara, Rocky Mountain Books, 1st edition, 2007, black and white, $24.95.

65 new scrambles in the Waterton, Castle-Crown and Kananaskis areas. Encompassing a range of levels of difficulty, More Scrambles will appeal to anyone familiar with Alan Kane's book (see above), as well as to hikers looking for a more challenging route to the top of a mountain.


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Trail Guides - Mountain Biking

 
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Done in a Day: Calgary, The 10 Premier Road Rides
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2007, 120 pages, 80 color photos, $17.95.

A new series by celebrated "Don't-Waste-Your-Time-in-the-Canadian-Rockies" guidebook authors Kathy and Craig Copeland (see above). Full color, packable size (4.5" x 7") guidebook with trail descriptions and precise directions to the best ten road-friendly rides in Southwest Alberta. Choose from rides in the Banff, Canmore, Icefields Parkway, Waterton, Drumheller, Elbow Valley, Sheep River, Highwood and Red Deer areas. Difficulty levels range from an easy 15-km jaunt to a challenging 146-km super-ride. Be back in the evening for a hot shower, great meal and soft bed. Trail maps, lots of photos and notes on the history, culture and sights in each area.


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Trail Guides - Art and Hiking

 
Art and Hiking

A Hiker's Guide to Art of the Canadian Rockies
By Lisa Christiansen, Glenbow Museum, Publisher, 1996, 144 pages, 54 colour plates, $29.95.
(May be out of print.)

This isn't your usual hiking book, but, wow, is it a beautiful marriage of the mountains and art! Author Lisa Christensen is a former curator at the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta. She has selected 54 paintings depicting various scenes in the Canadian Rockies and collected notes about the artist and the circumstances around the painting. Complementing these notes are trail descriptions so you can get to the same spot.  The book is simply but beautifully done and has won various awards in Alberta. It would make a great introduction to- or souvenir of - the Rockies. By the way, Gem Trek Publishing donated the map included in the back flap.


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Field Guides

 
Flower Guide

Central Rockies Wildflowers
By Mike Potter, Luminous Compositions, 1996, 94 pages, colour, $11.95.

This smaller-format Pack It-Pocket Guide covers more than 115 species of wildflowers, from those found in the low montane valley to those found high above treeline in the alpine zone. Flowers are organized by color, then by flower shape, and include the common to the unusual. Color photographs illustrate the precise, but non-technical notes on each.


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General

 
Handbook

Canadian Rockies Explorer
By Graeme Pole, Mountain Vision Publishing, 2010, 320 pages, $29.95, full color.

This "companion guide" to your trip to the parks is jam-packed with fascinating information about the history, geology, wildlife, plants and ecology in Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Waterton Lakes, Mt. Robson and Kananaskis parks. The text is loaded with interesting sidebars and photographs and makes for fascinating reading, as it answers questions you didn't even know you had.


Handbook

Handbook of the Canadian Rockies
By Ben Gadd, Corax Press, 2003, 831 pages, $44.95.

This is the most comprehensive field guide to the Canadian Rockies you can ever hope to find. It covers geology, plants, birds, animals, history and recreation from Waterton Lakes in southern Alberta to the Yukon in northern Canada. You'll find identification guides to everything from bats and bees to mushrooms and fossils, not to mention Rocky Mountain birds, mammals and flowers. An historical outline plus hiking and safety tips are also included. Lots of color photos and line drawings illustrate the text. Ben Gadd, a former Park interpreter, writes with a direct style that is a pleasure to read.


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Guidebooks for Other Areas

 
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Done in a Day: Whistler, The 10 Premier Hikes
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2007, 144 pages, 80 color photos, $18.95.

A new series by celebrated "Don't-Waste-Your-Time-in-the-Canadian-Rockies" guidebook authors Kathy and Craig Copeland (see above). Full color, packable size (4.5" x 7") guidebook with trail descriptions and precise directions to the best ten day hikes in the Whistler area. Choose an easy, vigorous or challenging day hike, start within a short drive of Whistler, B.C., and be back for a hot shower, great meal and soft bed at the end of the day. Trail maps, lots of photos and notes on the history, culture and sights in the area.


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Done in a Day: Moab, The 10 Premier Hikes
By Kathy and Craig Copeland, hikingcamping.com, 2008, 160 pages,110 color photos, $18.95.

A new series by celebrated "Don't-Waste-Your-Time-in-the-Canadian-Rockies" guidebook authors Kathy and Craig Copeland (see above). Full color, packable size (4.5" x 7") guidebook with trail descriptions and precise directions to the best ten day hikes in the Moab, Arches and Canyonlands areas. Choose an easy, vigorous or challenging day hike and be back for a hot shower, great meal and soft bed at the end of the day. Trail maps, lots of photos and notes on the history, culture and sights in the area.


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Last update: Sept. 24, 2013

Maps for the Canadian Rockies
© Copyright 2000 Gem Trek Publishing 
Gem Trek Publishing
615 St. Andrew's Lane
Cobble Hill, BC
Canada    V0R 1L1 
Phone (778) 402-4216
maps@gemtrek.com
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